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News blog26 October 2023European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency3 min read

Universal Music Sues AI Company Anthropic for Copyright Infringement - Levi's Sues Coperni for Trade mark Infringement

Universal Music Files Lawsuit Against AI Company Anthropic for Copyright Infringement

In the ongoing battle between copyright owners and AI-generative engines, a new episode of legal confrontation has appeared. This time, music publishers, including Universal Music Group Publishing (UMGP), Concord Music Group and ABKCO, have filed a lawsuit against Anthropic, an artificial intelligence company founded by former members of OpenAI (the creators of the now famous ChatGPT) and working on the development of large language models.

Anthropic garnered attention after it received substantial investments from companies such as Amazon, Google, Salesforce and Zoom. Last May, Anthropic was invited to the White House to discuss responsible AI development with Vice President Kamala Harris, along with other influential companies such as Alphabet, Microsoft and OpenAI.

The lawsuit was formally filed in federal court in Nashville on 18 October. In the lawsuit, Universal Music alleges that "in the process of building and operating AI models, Anthropic has illegally copied and distributed substantial amounts of copyrighted works, including the lyrics of numerous musical compositions owned or controlled by publishers". They are seeking €140,000 in damages for each work infringed. They also claim that Claude, Anthropic's AI, is capable of creating identical or near-identical copies of iconic songs such as 'What a Wonderful World', 'Sweet Home Alabama' and at least 500 other compositions.

To support their claims, the plaintiffs asked Claude to provide the lyrics to songs such as Katy Perry's 'Roar' (owned by Concord) and Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' (owned by Universal). In all cases, Claude successfully provided the lyrics.

It is worth noting Universal Music has also been involved with AI, working on the potential that this technology can bring to its own business. In May, they partnered with Endel, an AI music company, to explore the potential of AI-assisted music production. In August, they announced negotiations with Google to reach an agreement that would compensate artists for the use of AI-generated voices and melodies. More recently, on 18 October, Universal Music signed a strategic partnership with BandLab Technologies to focus on the ethical use of AI to protect the rights of artists and composers.

This case joins a number of recent similar lawsuits against major AI developers for copyright infringement. For more information on these lawsuits, we invite you to have a look through our previous blogs in which we have talked about the multiple lawsuits OpenAI has received based on similar grounds, which you can see here, here and here.


Levi's Pursues Legal Action Against Coperni for Trade Mark infringement and Unauthorized Alterations

A small piece of fabric is at the centre of a legal battle between the denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. and Coperni, a French fashion brand known for its avant-garde aesthetic and innovative designs. Levi's has filed a lawsuit against Coperni in California, accusing it of trade mark infringement by selling Levi's products that have been "reworked" without the American brand's permission.

The lawsuit is based on two main points:

Firstly, Levi Strauss & Co alleges that Copernis has infringed its iconic trade mark and distinctive pocket stitching design on its denim products. They consider Coperni's white fabric tab with added logo on the pockets of their jeans and button-up shirts to be "confusingly similar".

Levi Strauss & Co. has a long history of being very protective of its trade mark, having registered the iconic tab in 1938, which has become an integral part of its corporate and retail image. The company argues that the addition of similar labels by Coperni could cause confusion among consumers, who could interpret these products as licensed or part of a collaboration between both brands.

Secondly, they have pointed out that Coperni markets Levi's products that have been "reworked" without the brand's consent, retaining the trade marked "arcuate" (i.e. shaped like a bow) pocket stitching and the "Levi's" name. Specifically, these are skirts made from Levi's jeans and trousers that incorporate the Levi's waist and thigh style.

It is worth noting that Coperni is not the first company to be sued by Levi Strauss & Co over the fabric tab. Last year, the Hammies brand, based in San Francisco, faced a similar action. At the same time, an Australian entrepreneur was sued on the grounds that products made for the Green Tab and brands also infringed his registered "tab" trade mark. Even high-profile brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Kenzo have been involved in legal disputes with Levi Strauss & Co in the past.


Publication date
26 October 2023
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency