June 19, 2024

3 of the Oddest Cases of Intellectual Property Theft

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Companies and corporate entities accuse one another of intellectual property theft all the time, and over some pretty weird things, too. Here are just a few of the stranger intellectual property cases out there.

The Da Vinci Code. – In the case of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh vs. The Random House Group Limited, Baigent and Leigh accused the publishing company that Dan Brown, author of the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, broke intellectual property laws by infringing on the copyright of their non-fiction work. Though he hadn’t copied the text outright, they claimed it was “non-literal” copying, and that Brown told his story in the same “manner” that they had expressed historical facts in their book. Their case was eventually dismissed.

Mike Tyson’s Face Tattoo. – S. Victor Whitmill, the tattoo artist of Mike Tyson, filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment in 2009, arguing that the use of his design in The Hangover Part II, which he had copyrighted, was unlawful. Warner Bros. saw it as parody, so it would fall under “fair use.” Though the judge denied an injunction of the movie’s release, she said the artist still had a case, and the two hashed out an eventual agreement to avoid a long trial.

Bratz Dolls vs. Barbie. – In the case of Mattel vs. MGA, the prosecution, Mattel, claimed that MGA stole the concept and the name of the company’s Bratz dolls from them, and won. Mattel used to employ Carter Bryant, who designed the Bratz doll, but also worked as a consultant for MGA when he designed the doll. Since he was on the payroll at the time of the release of the doll, the Bratz name and design were considered trade secrets. The courts sided with the Barbie-maker, and ordered the defendant to pay $100 million in damages.

If something is your intellectual property — no matter how odd it may be — and someone has stolen it, you’d be wise to hire a intellectual property rights lawyer, and fight for what’s yours.
If you know of any other weird intellectual property cases, feel free to share in the comments.

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