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News blog3 March 2020Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises3 min read

Mascots have copyright / The WIPO Geneva Act entered into force / NGO vs. LeBron James / Kendrick Lamar faces copyright lawsuit / Netflix seeks to end trade mark dispute

Good morning dear readers. I hope this week’s updates find you well and healthy.


Mascots have copyright



This is the story of Phillie Fanatic, the mascot of the Phillie’s baseball team. The one on the left is the original one, the one on the right is the new redesigned “glammed-up” version. This glammed-up version as you see is more feathery, has stars instead of flowers behind his eyes, and (apparently) a blue tail and wears blue socks (instead of the usual red ones). A little bit on US law and mascots: the terms of a copyright assignment agreement can be redrawn after 35 years. And, according to the creators of the original Phanatic (Bonnie and Wayde), the managers of the baseball team try to find their way out by creating their own version of the mascot. The creators filed for copyright infringement and bad faith as they consider this a clear violation of their rights…

The WIPO Geneva Act entered into force

On the 26th of February, the Geneva Act on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications entered into force. This Act modernizes the Lisbon Agreement by:

  • Introduced Geographical Indications under the treaty scope of application, previously limited to Appellations of Origin;
  • Strengthen the level of protection for both Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin (art 11);
  • Kept the principle of one unique application for an Appellation of Origin or Geographical Indication – made through WIPO – following which contracting parties have one year to analyze it and give or refuse protection to an Appellation of Origin or Geographical Indication in its jurisdiction;
  • Clarified the relations with prior trademark rights;
  • Introduced more flexibility in terms of filing applications and fees.

The international registry established by the Geneva Act facilitates the protection of Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin in foreign jurisdictions, thereby increasing legal certainty in international trade for producers, transformers, distributors and consumers.


NGO vs. LeBron James

Game Plan is an NGO from Maryland that seeks to assist students from under-served communities with their educational needs. Back in 2018, this NGO trade marked “I am more than an athlete”. Now the NGO has filed for trade mark infringement against Uninterrupted (LeBron James’ company), Nike, ESPN, and Take-Two Interactive because they have unlawfully used “more than an athlete” in their newly released basketball videogame. Let’s see what directions this dispute will take.


Kendrick Lamar faces copyright lawsuit

Yeasayer has filed for copyright infringement against the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, alleging that “Pray For Me” (from Black Panther’s Soundtrack) infringes on the band’s track “Sunrise”. Allegedly, “Pray for Me” includes an uncredited sample of “Sunrise” that is described as the “a distinctive choral performance… comprised of male voices singing in their highest registers, with animated, pulsing vibrato, and developed via distinctive audio post-processing” that was then manipulated and incorporated into “Pray for Me”, therefore creating an unauthorized derivative work. I strongly recommend that you listen to the tracks and form your own opinion.


Netflix seeks to end trade mark dispute over “Choose your own adventure”

Back in January, Chooseco the company behind the “Choose your own adventure” book series, sued Netflix claiming that “Bandersnatch” (the Black Mirror interactive film) violated its trade mark despite negotiations between both companies reaching a dead end. Among the defenses argued by Netflix, there is something in the US called the “doctrine of genericide” similar to our “vulgarization” in Europe. According to this doctrine, a once protected trade mark can be “vulgarized” or evolved to generically describe a category of products instead of a company’s specific product. Once the trade mark has reached this stage, it is no longer protectable.

Accordingly, “Choose Your Own Adventure” seemed to have become generic in its current use and refers to any situation that requires making a series of unguided choices. Thus, in its current usage, this phrase seems to encompass the entire genre of interactive-narrative fiction, a genus of media of which Chooseco’s book series would just be one species.

What do you think? This will be an interesting case as more and more “choose your own adventure” videogames are created and become famous.


This is all for this week. Be safe!



Publication date
3 March 2020
Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises