The popular song, “Happy Birthday To You,” was first copyrighted in 1935 by the Summy Company (“Summy”). Years later, in 1988, Warner/Chappell Music (“Warner”) purchased the company owning the copyright. Warner required that royalties be paid for public performances of the song and claimed that the copyright, which represented an estimated $2M to $5M in royalties annually, did not expire until 2030. Warner wanted to charge Jennifer Nelson, an independent filmmaker, $1500 for using the song in a documentary. She filed suit and, on September 22, 2015, in Rupa Marya v. Warner Chappell Music Inc., Case No. CV 13-4460-GHK (S.D. Cal.), federal Judge George H. King ruled that Warner’s copyright to “Happy Birthday to You” was invalid, as the alleged original authors of the song had never asserted a claim for the lyrics, though they did sue for rights to the original melody. As such, Summy never legally obtained the rights to the lyrics from the authors and therefore Warner’s copyright was invalid.
Yesterday, our sponsor, Cascadia Intellectual Property, celebrated 15 years of service to the legal community! The firm was founded on July 20, 1999. Here are ten interesting facts about Cascadia Intellectual Property:
- The firm was formed 30 years after the first moon landing.
- We are international. Six of us originate from outside the United States, including the Republic of Georgia, Poland, Russia, Japan, and China.
- Our mascot is a Shetland sheepdog, named Taisho, which means “Boss” in Japanese.
- We are multilingual. We speak eight foreign languages, including French, Georgian, Polish, Russian, Tartar, Japanese, Spanish, and Mandarin.
- The firm is in the tallest office building in the Lake City neighborhood.
- We like to eat. We spoil ourselves with ethic delicacies, like khatchapuri (Georgian cheese bread), borscht (Russian beet soup), Zapiekanki (Polish street sandwiches), and chichi dango (Japanese sweet rice treats).
- We take our summer interns geocaching at lunch time when the weather is nice.
- We are green thumbs. We have a Chrysanthemum that is three years old and Krista keeps a small grove of avocado trees in her office.
- Patrick is still using the same desk that he first started with.
- We are musical. We play the piano, saxaphone and guitar.
Here in the States, the Fourth of July is celebrated as Independence Day, to commemorate the signing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration, which was then edited and finalized by the Second Continental Congress. Jefferson later went on to help draft our first Patent Act in 1790 and to accomplish a great many other things.