Greenpeace[ful?] Harm to Cultural Property

The Nazca lines are a celebrated example of cultural property. Located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru, the Nazca lines are a series of ancient designs called “geoglyphs” that were created by removing small, reddish pebbles to expose the white ground underneath. These designs were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD, and were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The designs include animals, trees, and flowers. Moreover, the unique climate of the Nazca Desert has allowed for the natural preservation of these early forms of art: since the area is relatively isolated and windless, the designs have remained naturally intact. As such, Peru has taken care to further preserve the Nazca lines. In doing so, the nation has voiced environmental concerns, and has stringently regulated access to the area. For example, “[e]ven ministers and presidents have to seek special permission [to visit] and wear special footwear to access the grounds.”[1]

In December 2014, climate change talks were held in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Greenpeace took the opportunity to illegally visit the Nazca lines and use yellow fabric letters to inscribe “Time for Change! The Future is Renewable. Greenpeace” next to one of the iconic images of a Nazca hummingbird. In doing so, the group of activists allegedly removed 1,600 km2 of the surface next to the hummingbird.[2] This display can be seen from an airplane descending into Lima, so Greenpeace used the letters to catch the attention of those attending the climate change talks. In doing so, Greenpeace seriously offended both Peruvians and art appreciators alike. Not only was their entry illegal, but also they did not use the special footwear when traversing the delicate landscape. The incident also sparked a heated legal debate about preservation of cultural property, as well as prosecution and extradition. Continue reading Greenpeace[ful?] Harm to Cultural Property

3D Print Week, New York Fashion Show, and the Effects Consumer 3D Printing Will Have on Online Counterfeiting in the Fashion Industry

Fashion designers do not necessarily use a pencil, paper, needle, and thread anymore. In fact, some do not use any of these materials at all. This week (April 13-17th 2015), in New York City, MecklerMedia launched their highly anticipated “3D Print Week NY.” The event has drawn companies and 3D printing enthusiasts from all around the world, and has been recognized as the largest 3D printing event in history.[1] As part of 3D Print Week NY, the 3D Print Fashion Show showcased top 3D print designers’ original works displayed to the public for the first time.[2] The show itself featured both men’s and women’s apparel and accessories and featured designers such as Andy O’Mara, Bradley Rothenberg, Francis Bitonti, Melinda Looi, and Paul Redmond.[3] In recent years, 3D print designs have become some of the most talked about fashion designs to take fashion week.

In March of 2013, designer Michael Schmidt partnered with architect Francis Bitonti, and 3D printing company, Shapeways, to design the “world’s first fully articulated 3D printed dress.”[4] According to the designer, the dress was designed entirely on an iPad, refined via Skype, rendered digital, and printed in seventeen parts on a 3D printer EOS P350.[5]  The dress, worn by American burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese at a private event in New York, received much attention from the international high-end fashion community.[6] Later, at Paris Fashion Week, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen became the first to incorporate 3D printed pieces into her Haute Couture runway collection.[7] Continue reading 3D Print Week, New York Fashion Show, and the Effects Consumer 3D Printing Will Have on Online Counterfeiting in the Fashion Industry

Shoulder Surfing: A Fourth Amendment Violation

With the advent of social media, people have taken their personal lives online. With photos, wall posts, “likes,” and friend requests, a plethora of information detailing the innermost thoughts of a person are available with just a username and password.

Employers, in an effort to learn more beyond an applicant’s resume and cover letter, use information available through social media to their advantage. Employers ask, or even require, applicants to provide their passwords to social media sites.

As a result of strong public criticism against passwords requests, some employers “shoulder surf” as a way to circumvent any backlash or newly imposed social media legislation. Shoulder surfing is a practice by which a prospective employer will ask an applicant, usually during an interview, to log onto their social media pages in front of them. The employer will then hover over the applicant as the applicant scrolls through their pages and accounts. Continue reading Shoulder Surfing: A Fourth Amendment Violation

Google Autocomplete and the Potential for Defamation

Autocomplete is a feature provided by many search engines that uses an algorithm to automatically display search suggestions to fill queries as information is inputted. These search suggestions are based on a user’s search history, popular search queries, and a number of other objective factors. Autocomplete is an extremely useful search tool, as it may accelerate and refine searches in ways users would not expect.   However, despite its benefits, autocomplete has been the subject of controversy. Autocomplete can be potentially defamatory if your name or company is autocompleted with something negative. Even assuming the negative information is false, the suggestion alone has the power to completely destroy your reputation.

Autocomplete was originally implemented to help people with disabilities increase their typing speed and reduce the number of keystrokes needed in order to complete a word or sentence. It quickly became clear, however, that autocomplete served a purpose for all Internet users. Autocomplete operates so that when a user inputs the first letter or word into the search bar, it predicts one or more possible words to fill the query. If the user intends to type what appears in the list, he can select it. If not, the user must type in the next letter of the word. As each additional letter is entered into the search box, autocomplete automatically alters the search suggestions in the drop-down menu. Once the word or phrase that the user intends to search appears, he can select it and press “Enter” to complete the search.

Autocomplete search suggestions are generated by an algorithm that takes into account a number of objective factors, such as a user’s previous searches and popular search queries.  Other criteria are also factored into the ranking, such as the user’s location and a search term’s “freshness.” In addition, the algorithm automatically detects and filters out a small set of search terms related to pornography, violence, hate speech, and copyright infringement.

Around the world, Google has been subjected to defamation lawsuits based on the content that automatically appears as Internet users input their search queries into Google’s search box. Even though the content in Google’s search suggestions is mainly based on information inputted by third parties, plaintiffs have sued Google on the grounds that it “controls, “creates,” or “publishes” the information through autocomplete. Plaintiffs’ arguments are based on the fact that Google uses an algorithm to aggregate, synthesize, and reconstitute input query data prior to publishing it in its autocomplete search suggestions. Google also consistently updates and improves its algorithm. Plaintiffs argue that by using artificial intelligence, which Google itself creates and maintains, to actively facilitate searches, Google does more than simply convey third-party information. Therefore, it should be held liable for any defamatory content displayed.  Most foreign courts have accepted this argument and found Google liable, forcing it to either remove the defamatory material upon request or otherwise modify its autocomplete algorithm. Continue reading Google Autocomplete and the Potential for Defamation

Food Plating and Trade Dress: Can a Chef Claim Trademark Protection for a Signature Dish?

In America’s burgeoning foodie culture, food is increasingly being embraced as art. At many high-end restaurants, food is intricately created, carved and designed, and placed with artistic precision and perfection on each plate before being delivered to diners. Color combinations, along with textures, layering, and placement are all considerations a chef uses to create artistically designed dishes. Recently, The Drawing Center in Soho, New York City exhibited the work of Ferran Adria, chef of famed Spanish restaurant El Bulli, demonstrating that Adria’s work at El Bulli had “transcended mere hospitality” and that Adria had achieved the status of artist. But is the presentation of food, intended for eating, considered “art” worthy of intellectual property protection? This post briefly examines whether chefs can protect their food presentation under U.S. trademark law. For a full discussion of chefs’ rights (or lack of rights) to protect food presentation under U.S. copyright law, trademark law, and design patent law, please see Food Art: Protecting Food Presentation Under U.S. Intellectual Property Law.

In 2006, a scandal erupted in the culinary world. Commenters on the popular cuisine blog, eGullet, accused Robin Wickens, famous chef at (now closed) Interlude restaurant in Melbourne, Australia of serving dishes copied from renowned American chefs Wylie Dufresne, Jose Andres, and Grant Achatz. It is not uncommon for chefs to borrow recipes from other chefs, and there has been a long culture of sharing in the cuisine industry. However, what made Wickens’ actions scandalous was that he had purportedly copied the artistic presentation and plating of other chefs’ dishes, not just their recipes.

This is not the only time a chef was accused of copying another chef’s food plating. Continue reading Food Plating and Trade Dress: Can a Chef Claim Trademark Protection for a Signature Dish?

Collective Bargaining and Student Athletes

Recently, Edward O’Bannon, at the age of forty-one and working as a car salesman in Las Vegas, recognized himself in a video game. He became distressed and concerned that his likeness was being used without his consent—and without any form of compensation. Mr. O’Bannon is a former student-athlete who led the University of California, Los Angeles (“UCLA”) to victory in the 1995 National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) championship in his senior season. Mr. O’Bannon was considered a fantastic player in the tournament and a “consensus all-American.”[1] In turn, he was drafted ninth by the New Jersey Nets, but his professional career fizzled out and never quite matched the expectations set by his excellent undergraduate career. Continue reading Collective Bargaining and Student Athletes

Why the Current Trademark Disparagement Analysis Needs to be Revamped

In June 2014, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) shocked football fans everywhere when it granted a petition to cancel six Washington Redskins trademark registrations. Filed by Navajo Amanda Blackhorse and four other Native Americans, the petition sought to cancel the registrations on the grounds that they disparaged the Native American people; all six of the registrations included the term “redskin”, and two included the team’s logo (a Native American chief).

The TTAB granted the petition based on the results of a two-part disparagement analysis. First, the TTAB considered the likely meaning of the term as it was used in the marks, and how the marks were used in connection with entertainment services (i.e., the services for which the marks were registered). The TTAB then evaluated whether the likely meaning of the term was disparaging to a substantial composite of the Native American population. After completing both prongs of the analysis, the TTAB concluded that all six registrations disparaged Native Americans at the time of registration and therefore violated federal law. On this basis, the TTAB granted the petition. Continue reading Why the Current Trademark Disparagement Analysis Needs to be Revamped