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IP infringements are incredibly common and affect everyone, from small businesses to large corporations. However, the effects of IP infringement can be even more detrimental when it is committed by a conglomerate or a celebrity. So, it is important to ensure that protections are put in place which confirm your ownership and prevent others from using or copying it.

In this article we will break down the recent string of high-profile intellectual property cases, and outline how smaller businesses have won big.

Katy Perry and the Australian Designer

The Federal Court of Australia recently found that the singer, Katy Perry has infringed an Australian designer’s trademark. They found that the infringement was “deliberate” and resulted in a “calculated disregard” for the designer’s trademark rights.

The Federal Court proceedings began in 2019 by Katie Taylor (her birth name being Katy Perry), however the dispute between Ms Taylor and Katheryn Hudson (being the singer, Katy Perry) began around 10 years earlier, when the singer tried to block Ms Taylor’s Australian trademark application from being registered.

Ms Taylor held her stance, and Ms Hudson abandoned her opposition to the registration of the Australian trademark application. The trademark was registered to Ms Taylor on 29 September 2008, which prevented Ms Hudson from obtaining an Australian trademark application for ‘KATY PERRY’ in relation to clothing.

Ms Taylor has designed/sold clothes under the brand “Katie Perry” since 2007. From 2002, Ms Hudson took on the name Katy Perry as her stage name, and since then has used it for all advertising, promotional and merchandise material.

Ms Taylor alleged that Ms Hudson’s conduct in using the Katy Perry Mark on clothes in Australia was deliberate and argued that there is no evidence of the use of the Katy Perry trademark on clothes in Australia until after Ms Hudson became aware of Ms Taylor’s trademark application. Ms Taylor also alleged “Ms Hudson sought at first to bully Ms Taylor out of her application for the Applicant’s Mark and then to have her co-exist, which Ms Taylor refused to do.”

The Federal Court found that Ms Hudson’s commercial goods had infringed Ms Taylor’s trademark through sales of clothing during one of Ms Hudson’s concerts in Australia, and through website sales to Australian consumers.

Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” Accused Of Copying Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”

A new high-profile case has taken off in the United States to decide whether one of Ed Sheeran’s songs is a copy of one of Marvin Gaye’s well-known hits “Let’s Get It On”.

The family of Ed Townsend, who is the co-writer of “Let’s Get It On” (now deceased), have accused Ed Sheeran of copying the hit and incorporating it into his song “Thinking Out Loud”.

In a recent court hearing, Ben Crump, the lawyer for the Townsend family, attempted to depict Sheeran as someone who recognised the “magic” of Gaye’s soul song and then used it to enhance his career. “if you remember nothing else about this trial, about this case, it is about giving credit where credit is due,” Crump told the jury.

Sheeran’s legal team are arguing that the sounds used in both songs are very common in the music industry. “No one owns basic musical building blocks,” Ilene Farkas, Sheeran’s lawyer, told the jury in opening remarks.

What You can do to Overcome Intellectual Property Infringement

Whilst final orders are yet to be made in both cases, there is a lot to be learnt. The key takeaways are:

  1. Registering your trademarks with IP Australia provide you with the most protection;
  2. Be careful if you are opposing another person’s trademark. In doing so, you are alerting them to your competing trademark which can be used against you;
  3. Before releasing your work publicly, conduct initial searches to see if you could be accused of copying someone else’s work. This could include searching IP Australia or WIPO, searching on Google or social media for your competitors and Google image searches.
  4. Get advice from an expert before you agree to stop using your intellectual property.

If you require trademark or intellectual property advice, please contact one of our intellectual property lawyers at  Taurus Legal Management today on (03) 9481 2000 or info@tauruslawyers.com.au.

Posted by Taurus Legal Management