Oscar season is approaching, and many in New York were delighted to hear that Guillermo del Toro's historical fantasy "The Shape of Water" garnered 13 nominations, more than any other film this year. The lushly produced movie tells the story of a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a magical creature that the government captured from the waters of the Amazon. While audiences may have been spellbound by the tale, the son of a legendary playwright and young adult novelist Paul Zindel claims the screenplay is a theft of his father's intellectual property.
It is not unheard of for people to file for trademark registration for clever phrases. "Just Do It," for example, is a popular saying New York consumers are happy to wear on their shirts, bags and other merchandise. Nike, Inc. is the owner of the trademark for the saying and thus has the right to use it in marketing to promote its products. However, there are some cases in which the claim for trademark protection is not covered by intellectual property law.
What some in New York are claiming is an example of an artist defending his rights, others describe as a bitter rivalry sparked by jealousy over a partner's success. The case involves a struggling playwright whose ex-girlfriend's first novel won critical and popular approval. He says she plagiarized his unpublished screenplay, but she contends her ex is trying to sabotage her career and reputation by claiming she stole his intellectual property.
It is no secret that athletes can be an inspiration to people. Millions of fans watch their favorite sports, often spending outrageous money to see certain players perform in person. The average New York fan who, in childhood, tried Little League, high school football or dance lessons knows the physical and mental sacrifices that must be made to excel in a sport. This may be why fans appreciate the inspirational quotes and proverbs an athlete may come up with. For Lebron James, these quotes become part of his intellectual property.
Since the modernized fanfiction appeared in a magazine paying homage to the original Star Trek series, the world of fanfiction has evolved into a life of its own. The inception of fanfiction websites made such creative expressions more accessible, spawning derivative fiction for every conceivable literary genre. While some authors in New York and elsewhere welcome and even encourage fans to show their appreciation in this unique way, other authors argue that fanfiction violates their intellectual property.
Increasingly, intangible assets are vital to the economy of our country. Intellectual property such as music, computer programs and written works are not only the driving force behind many industries, but provide a livelihood for the inventors and artists who often make great sacrifices regarding their unique creations. In New York and across the country, there seems to be a misconception about what constitutes the illegal use of someone's intellectual property.
How many high school kids get together and make music in their parents' garages or basements? In the beginning, most of those kids likely expect they will make it big, cut a record and play their songs in front of stadium crowds. A few of the lucky ones achieve their dreams, and others may see success on a smaller scale. However, before introducing their art to the world, New York musicians are advised to take steps to protect their most important asset: their intellectual property.
New York draws artists from all over the world because of the city's inspiration and opportunity. Writers, musicians, painters, filmmakers and photographers often make great sacrifices to produce their craft, and that makes them rightfully protective of their intellectual property. Moreover, the law protects such artists and their work from unauthorized use by someone else who seeks to make a profit. Kylie and Kendall Jenner may have just learned a valuable lesson about this area of law.