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News & Events


Content Provider Turns to Trademark Law in Battle Against Illegal Content Sharing

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Lane Powell Shareholder Ken Davis was quoted in an April 30 World Trademark Review blog post titled “Content Provider Turns to Trademark Law in Battle Against Illegal Content Sharing.” The blog post discussed Voltage Pictures, a Hollywood production company behind award-winning films like “The Hurt Locker” and “Dallas Buyers Club”, and their recent disputes involving trademark law. The company had previously brought 17 separate copyright lawsuits against 615 still-anonymous defendants claiming that they have illegally shared “Dallas Buyers Club” using BitTorrent. Voltage has now filed two cases in Oregon courts claiming that the company’s rights were infringed under state trademark law, which is an uncommon approach in this area of litigation. Similar disputes often rely on mass copyright litigation to prosecute defendants accused of illegally downloading and distributing movies. Since it is so unusual in nature, many trademark and copyright counsel are beginning to follow the case closely to see if such an approach can be applied in certain circumstances. However, as Davis points out, there are still potential challenges Voltage may face during the case.

Lane Powell shareholder, Kenneth Davis, told World Trademark Review that this is a unique case in a number of respects, not least because “the case asserts state trademark law claims when the entire complaint reads like a case of copyright infringement”. However, this also throws up another potential roadblock: “The Copyright Act has a strong pre-emptive effect over claims that arise under state law. Thus, if the case were to be addressed on the merits, one could expect that defendants might have a strong argument that the case should be dismissed on grounds of federal pre-emption.”