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This week's IP news round-up

26 April 2005

Well hello there, and welcome to this week’s Own It intellectual property round up.

After last week’s story about Monsoon taking action against Primark for allegedly copying some of their clothing designs, it seems that suing counterfeiters may be the new black.

This week it’s the turn of ‘Chloe’ to fight back, threatening to take Kookai and Warehouse to court for infringing their design rights on a snakeskin bag. They are also planning action against Tesco for copying a Grecian-style dress and selling it for £35. The Chloe original version costs £948. However, according to the Daily Telegraph most companies prefer to ignore potential breaches of design right laws because of the time and cost involved in pursuing a case. Says lawyer Simon Clark, “even if the case goes to court and the designer wins, the person knows that the most he might have to pay is net profits minus costs.”

And so to America, for a quirky little bill that is delighting the religious right. According to Ziff Davis , the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act is currently speeding its way towards congress and, when it gets there, home entertainment will never be the same again. Essentially the Act allows companies to alter the content of copyright material – including Hollywood films – to make them more suitable for children. Previously several companies have been sued by major studios for altering films and then reselling them to concerned parents. However, once the new act becomes law, this practice will become entirely lawful, allowing companies to do whatever they like to censor artistic works. But, says Republican Senator Diane Watson, "The intent of the movie-filtering technology is to sanitize movies to protect children… While I support family-friendly entertainment, I believe this method is not only a violation of filmmakers' copyright.” Hmmm. One dissenting senator verses the Moral Majority. No prizes for predicting the outcome.

And finally, gravel-voiced songsmith Tom Waits is considering his legal options after car maker Opal used music that sounds suspiciously Waits-like on their latest advert. Although the music resembles Waits’ style and sound, Opal denies any intention of mimicking him. But Waits, with characteristic understatement, told Associated Press that “Commercials are an unnatural use of my work… It's like having a cow's udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating." In 1992, Waits was awarded $2.5 million in damages from Frito-Lay after successfully arguing that another singer was hired to imitate his voice for a Doritos corn chip commercial.

Until next week.

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