If anyone caught the halftime show at the Super Bowl this year, you may remember the dancing sharks that were a part of Katy Perry’s halftime show. The sharks were an instant sensation, particularly the left shark who was seen dancing awkwardly behind Ms. Perry. Now one businessman has tried to capitalize on that.
Fernando Sosa is in the 3D printing business. Mr. Sosa makes and sells 3D printed sculptures typically of political figures. After the Super Bowl, Mr. Sosa developed and offered for sale a replica “Left Shark” figure. Attorneys for Katy Perry quickly fired off a cease and desist letter to Mr. Sosa claiming that the figure infringed Katy Perry’s intellectual property. In particular, the letter alleged that Mr. Sosa’s selling of the shark figurine violated Ms. Perry’s copyrights in the shark. Mr. Sosa has agreed to stop selling the shark.
According to CNN, Mr. Sosa remarked “ it looks like dictators and world leaders like Putin and Kim Jong Un or Chris Christie are much easier to deal with,” and “all this lawyer crap is stressful.”
Take away: before considering copying something in a public domain, think about whether any third party may have rights to the subject matter. This applies to sharks as well as digital images and content on the internet. Even though a digitized item can be downloaded, doesn’t mean it should be. One way to err on the side of caution is to check the ownership of the item. If a copyright notice accompanies the material that indicates the owner. Most owners can be contacted and some may grant a license to you to use their image or content (or shark) as you would like. However, it is the owner’s right to grant and not yours to take.
Protecting your innovative developments and respecting the intellectual property rights of third parties is critical to any organization. Having the right person to help you make those decisions is important. The Law Office of Kathleen Lynch PLLC is designed to help businesses such as yours keep ahead of the game. The first telephone consultation is free. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.