Filmmakers found not guilty of violating trademark infringement against award-winning singer Sam Moore

May 29, 2012 3:10 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As any business lawyer in Phoenix would tell you, patent infringement and intellectual property law go hand in hand. If a company takes the patented ideas, products, creations or services of anyone else, that individual has the right to sue over patent infringement.

In 2009, grammy-winning singer Sam Moore filed a lawsuit against The Weinstein Company, alleging that their 2008 movie "Soul Men" was based on his life and violated his trademarks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This movie starred Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac.

Some major controversy abounded among this court case, as Jackson had to testify in a deposition claiming that he does not often view the movies he narrates. Moore claims his publicity rights were infringed upon as the movie mirrors his career. Also, he alleges that there was an implication that the movie's soundtrack was endorsed by him and, thereby, creates a direct violation of fair competition in regards to his own musical creations.

On top of these allegations, Moore also felt that the differences in the movie between his life and the film's depiction put him in a negative role, as "Soul Men" included swearing and use of weaponry. The Weinstein Company claimed it was legal for the company to make this movie under the First Amendment's freedom of expression.

Despite all of Moore's claims, Tennessee District Court Judge Aleta Trauger found the filmmakers not guilty of infringing on Moore's publicity rights.

"Notwithstanding these broad similarities, the Movie contains no direct references to 'Sam & Dave' or 'Sam Moore.' Sam Moore’s name is never mentioned in the Movie, nor does the Movie contain any photographs or images of Sam Moore," Judge Trauger wrote in her final decision.

Other firms in Phoenix that have been accused of trademark or patent infringement may benefit from partnering with a small business attorney who has real-world business experience. Also, next to one's product or service itself, nothing is more important than the company identity or "brand," which are easily infringed upon or stolen, so the business owner may want to meet with a business lawyer who does intellectual property work to protect its business identity.

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