The much-maligned Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and its senatorial sibling, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) have, at least for now, met an abrupt demise. The huge public protests by internet trailblazonaires and activists, accompanied by “blackouts” staged by Google, Wikipedia, and other major sites, turned the tides against lawmakers almost overnight. As some reports noted, the rare display of public participation took lawmakers by surprise, and once anti-SOPA sentiments rippled through the country, the Congressional representatives who originally introduced the bill found themselves alone, without support, and abandoned the bill. By last Thursday, SOPA and PIPA were declared DOA, well in advance of the vote that was previously scheduled to take place today. In the end, the death of SOPA/PIPA was by some reports attributed to the power of public participation in the democratic process. These idealistic commentaries, however, may be ignoring the reality that the fight over SOPA/PIPA was very much a brawl between powerful corporate giants with strong conflicting interests. Caught in the fray, Americans would be wise to mute the rhetoric advanced by both sides when the next incarnation of SOPA/PIPA arises, and take a careful look at the true motivations fueling the debate, as well as the practical effects that stronger copyright enforcement laws would actually have for ordinary netizens.
LA Printex Industries is on the offensive. In four lawsuits filed on January 6, 2012, the fabric textile heavyweight brought claims against Wet Seal, Forever 21, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, TJMaxx, Filene’s Basement, and others alleging that the stores unlawfully infringed on LA Printex’ rights by copying “unique two-dimensional graphic artworks.” Unfortunately, copies of the lawsuits are not yet publicly available from the California federal court. It would be at least the second fabric copyright infringement lawsuit for Forever 21 in less than six months.
Generally, under US copyright laws, a garment generally cannot be copyrighted, but an original design or fabric pattern may be considered intellectual property that can be covered by copyright or trademark. Some reports, however, are that over the last several years, LA Printex has apparently brought over 200 lawsuits asserting fabric copyright infringement.
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. Forever 21 et al., Case No. 2:12 cv 166 JFW
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. The Wet Seal, Inc. et al. Case No. 2:12 cv 31 JST
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. Ross Stores, Inc. et al. Case No. 2:12 cv 165 ODW
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. Seven Licensing Company, LLC et al. Case No. 2:12 cv 168 JAK
“Hydra Executives” Reality TV Show’s Hannah Dodkin Files Lawsuit for $1 Million Prize Against Beverly Hills Architect Richard Best
UK-domiciled Hanna Dodkin, the “winner” of former reality TV show “Hydra Executives” has filed a lawsuit in California federal court alleging that she was deprived of the $1,000,000 prize money. According to reports, she and a fellow contender, Beverly Hills architect Richard Best, “both won” the prize, but the money was not given to Dodkin, and instead, given wholly to Best.
Unfortunately, there is not much information about the Hydra Executives show available, other than it was a “competitor” of “The Apprentice,” filed in UAE and featured back in the spring of 2009, pitting eight American entrepreneurs against United Kingdom counterparts. The show was founded and hosted by UAE real estate tycoon Sulaiman Abdul Kareem Mohammad Al-Fahim, apparently a repeat contender on the list of the “World’s Most Influential Arabs.”
The public version of the complaint does not appear to be available yet for download, but it will be interesting to see how Richard Best responds. For further proof that no good deed goes unpunished, the reports are that Best had donated $100,000 of the earnings to the United Nations to help combat malnutrition after receiving the prize money. Interestingly enough, Best does have the finale episode available on his website (linked to a YouTube channel), which will make interesting evidentiary fodder.
Jan. 5, 2012 Update: Courthouse News Service has obtained some more details to this story.