No. 53

Silence, Tweets and “That’s Hot”

In this month’s Heavens to Murgitroyd we take a look at some unexpected copyright and trade mark disputes and how they ended up being resolved.

Batt vs. Cage – Silent Song Dispute

shutterstock_316777070 (1)In 2002, Mike Batt had a very public dispute with the John Cage estate after Batt included a minute of silence on an album by his classical crossover music band The Planets.

John Cage was an American composer whose 1952 composition “4’33”, was made up of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. This led to the MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) accusing Batt of infringing on Cage’s work.

In the end the case concluded with Batt handing a reported six-figure settlement to John Cage’s estate.

Twitter vs. Twittad – “TWEET” Trade Mark Dispute

shutterstock_399755797In 2008, software developer Twittad filed an application in the US to register its trade mark “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets”. This meant Twitter was unable to register the word “TWEET” in the US.

The irony was that Twittad were using the term to sell their display advertisement service for Twitter users!

The two companies ended up settling the dispute with the word “TWEET” transferring over to Twitter, although Twittad will retain the right to use the tagline, “Let your ad meet tweets”.

Hilton vs. Hallmark – Reality Star Who Sued a Card Company Over Phrase “That’s Hot”.

Remember Paris Hilton? The former reality star successfully trademarked her catchphrase “That’s hot”, in 2007 and then proceeded to sue Hallmark card company for using her picture and catchphrase on a greetings card.

Hallmark argued the card was a parody which is normally protected under fair use law. The judge, however, was not convinced, leading to Hilton and Hallmark settling the suit.