From Barbie to cereal to a tattoo, a copyright lawsuit can get contentious; some have even reached the Supreme Court
1. S. Victor Whitmill v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
In the recent movie The Hangover Part II, Stu Price, a strait-laced dentist played by actor Ed Helms, wakes up after a night of debauchery in Bangkok to find a tribal tattoo wrapped around his left eye, his skin still painfully pink. Price’s tattoo is identical to the one Mike Tyson has, and it alludes to the boxer’s cameo in the original 2009 movie The Hangover.
Tyson’s tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment on April 28, just weeks before the movie’s May 26 opening. Since he obtained a copyright for the eight-year-old “artwork on 3-D” on April 19, he claimed that the use of his design in the movie and in advertisements without his consent was copyright infringement. Warner Bros., of course, saw it as a parody falling under “fair use.”
On May 24, 2011 Chief Judge Catherine D. Perry of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri denied an injunction on the movie’s release, but said Whitmill still had a case. If it meant avoiding a long trial, Warner Bros. said, in early June, that it would be willing to “digitally alter the film to substitute a different tattoo on Ed Helms’s face” when the movie is released on home video. But that ending was avoided on June 17, when Warner Bros. and Whitmill hashed out an agreement of undisclosed terms.
2. Isaac Newton v. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
By the early 18th century, many credited the German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz with inventing the study of calculus. Leibniz had, after all, been the first to publish papers on the topic in 1684 and 1686. But when Englishman Isaac Newton published a book called Opticks in 1704, in which he asserted himself as the father of calculus, a debate arose. Each of the thinkers’ respective countries wanted to stake a claim in what was one of the biggest advances in mathematics.
Complete article: smithsonianmag.com