Austin TX Business Law Blog

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Look at Some Famous Intellectual Property Cases

Why is it so important to protect my business’ intellectual property rights?

Intellectual property law is an ever evolving field of law. Since the advent of the internet, a plethora of new intellectual property cases have emerged to define and guide businesses on and off the web. Our Austin, Texas intellectual property law lawyers explore some of the biggest intellectual property lawsuits in recent history below.

1. RIAA vs. Napster

The case of Recording Industry Association of Americana (RIAA) versus Napster is one of the most widely known intellectual property cases. Napster was launched in 1999 as a revolutionary internet service which allowed users to share music files. The company took off and soon thousands of people were downloading music files for free, hurting the music industry.

In response, the RIAA sued Napster, stating that the file sharing company did not own the rights to the music that people were uploading, rather, these rights were vested with the recording artists. RIAA won and Napster was shut down for some time, only to emerge later as a fee based music downloading site.

2. Mattel Inc. vs. MGA Entertainment, Inc.

MGA Entertainment and Mattel Inc. have been in a fierce legal battle for several years over the intellectual property rights to the popular Bratz dolls. Bratz dolls were created by an employee of Mattel while he was on a break from the company. He sold the rights to the dolls to MGA Entertainment, a competitor to Mattel. Mattel filed suit against MGA alleging theft of trade secrets, and MGA countersued Mattel.

In a case that addressed the very crux of who owns an idea, as well as issues of gender, the court ultimately ruled in favor of MGA and awarded the company attorney’s fees and costs topping $130 million. The court found that Mattel’s claim that the entire collection of dolls was infringing was overreaching.

3. Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble

Amazon obtained a patent for its now well-known one click technology in 1999. The technology allows online customers to make a purchase with just one click, without the need for inputting their billing and shipping information each time. Several other retailers attempted to mimic the technology. Amazon sued Barnes and Noble for its “Express Lane,” which also allowed customers to check out with one click. The lawsuit was ultimately settled.

Business owners in Texas should stay abreast of new intellectual property cases and take steps today to protect their intellectual property rights. IP law is complex and challenging, but your steps are taken now to protect your unique brand, trademark, invention, and the like could greatly increase the value of your business.

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