In a broad-based victory for trademark rights, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is allowing several lawsuits to proceed against defendants accused of profiting from pirated karaoke tracks. The most recent ruling, issued by Judge Gary Feinerman, rejected a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant and confirms the widely adopted position the Federal Courts have embraced regarding the protection of intellectual property rights.
The plaintiff, North Carolina-based Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation, has long produced and produces karaoke tracks that it sells to professional karaoke operators, venues that operate their own karaoke systems, and home users. The defendant in the case presided over by the well-respected Judge Feinerman is a restaurant in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. It attracts customers with karaoke events that, according to the complaint, used poor quality, unauthorized copies of Slep-Tone’s recordings. This practice, Jayaram argues, denies Slep-Tone its rightful profits and has caused significant damaged the company’s reputation.
It is worth noting that piracy is a serious problem for businesses like Slep-Tone because digital media is often and obviously susceptible to unauthorized distribution. A single digital media file can be copied countless times, denying artists and creators of karaoke tracks like Slep-Tone earnings otherwise ensured by United States trademark and copyright law.
Fortunately, the Federal Courts are taking notice of the issues that have plagued Slep-Tone in the digital age. In recent years, cases involving file-sharing platforms like Napster and Grokster have increased awareness of how piracy affects the entertainment industry. A digital recording is less tangible than a compact disc, but pirating a legally-protected song is no different from shoplifting. Courts around the United States have routinely upheld Slep-Tone’s trademark rights that are often displayed without consent in karaoke venues across the country.
Rejecting each of the baseless, kitchen sink arguments offered by the defendant, Judge Feinerman correctly found that no defense, including the often used fair use defense, applies to thwart to Slep-Tone’s claims. Instead, if its allegations are proven to be true, the Court held that Slep-Tone would be a victim of trademark infringement.
Enforcing copyright and trademark law protects these rights, and helps deter unauthorized copying and distribution. Expert legal advice can help companies protect their products and minimize threats to profitability.
Slep-Tone is represented by Jayaram Law Group, LTD., which has extensive experience nationally protecting the rights of trademark and copyright holders. We have successfully litigated cases involving unauthorized use and piracy, including counterfeit cases on behalf of national and international brands, and encourage other corporate victims of piracy to reach out to us directly to assess their options.
The Slep-Tone case is Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation v. America’s Bar and Grill, LLC et al, 1:2013cv08526 (N.D. Ill.).