As anyone who even pays passing attention to the news now knows, on June 15 the Department of Homeland Security announced that certain individuals who were brought to the United States as children and meet specific criteria will be considered for relief from being placed in deportation or removal proceedings and may qualify for the issuance of a work permit. This is not amnesty, does not create a pathway to citizenship, and does not result in a change of status. It is merely a temporary solution to a problem that ultimately will need to be permanently served by the Congress.
To be eligible to apply for such “deferred action” (which is a temporary reprieve from deportation), an individual must meet the following criteria:
1. The individual must have been under the age of 16 when he/she came to the United States;
2. The individual must have been present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and must have resided in the United States on a continuous basis for five years prior to June 15, 2012;
3. The individual must be in school at the time of the application, must have graduated from high school, must have obtained a GED certificate, or must be an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces;
4. The individual must not have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to public safety or national security; and
5. The individual must not have reached his/her 31st birthday as of June 15, 2012.
If deferred action is granted, the individual then may apply to USCIS for employment authorization.
On June 18, 2012, the Copyright Office issued a Statement of Policy by which it announced that “functional physical movements such as sports movements, exercises, and other ordinary motor activities alone” are not works of authorship protected under United States copyright law. So now, yoga routines and positions, exercise routines, sports moves, simple dance steps, and other BASIC functional, physical activities cannot legitimately be subject to a claim of copyright protection.
But be very wary in this area. Choreography still can be subject to copyright protection, and it can be difficult to draw the line between unprotected simple dance steps and exercise routines, and protected choreography. Moreover, photographs, drawings or pictures of dance steps, yoga routines or exercise moves might be protectible. And the Copyright Office’s Statement of Policy only applies to copyright protection – other forms of intellectual property protection may still apply. For example, the terms “Zumba” and “Bikram Yoga” may be entitled to strong trademark protection.
A recent decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) places some interesting limitations on the parody doctrine in trademark law. The case is PRL USA Holdings v. Thread Pit, Cancellation No. 92047436 (TTAB May 14, 2012).
Respondent Thread Pit owned a trademark registration for a humorous logo on clothing which depicted a polo player falling off a horse. Petitioner (a holding company of Ralph Lauren) petitioned to cancel the registration on the ground that there was a likelihood of confusion with Ralph Lauren’s famous polo mark. Thread Pit defended by claiming its logo was a parody of Ralph Lauren’s Polo mark.
The TTAB rejected Thread Pit’s defense and found for Ralph Lauren, holding that the marks were confusingly similar. The TTAB emphasized the enormous fame of Ralph Lauren’s POLO mark as well as the similarity of goods sold by the two parties. Of importance to trademark purveyors and trademark lawyers, the TTAB found that parody is not a defense when two trademarks otherwise are confusingly similar.
It will be interesting to see if there is an appeal and/or if the courts will narrow the parody doctrine in trademark cases as much as the TTAB did.