Do you have Intellectual Property and Copyright coverage taken care of? If not, don’t mess with the Beastie Boys.

September 3, 2014

Copyright and Trademark infringement may be a couple of things that don’t pop up on a business owners radar screen that often. For the most part smaller companies usually aren’t going to go out and seek such materials for the purposes of advertising, that’s for big companies with the budget to go out and do that kind of thing right? Just make sure that if you do wind up using material that could be in the gray area, you cover your bases.

As an example of what can happen when a company doesn’t have permission to use certain media in advertisements, I give you the Beastie Boys versus Monster Beverage (makers of Monster energy drinks). In this case, Monster was accused of copyright infringement when they used a remix of some Beastie Boys music for a promotional video. Monster had used the footage of a live DJ set perofrmed at a Monster sponsored festival.

Apparently a Monster employee misinterpreted the meaning of the word ‘dope’ in an e-mail exchange with the DJ who created the mix, interpreting this as authorization to use said media in promotional material. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well in court. You wouldn’t think the interpretation of the word ‘dope’ would be too costly, until the verdict came down. Monster Beverage was hit with a $1.7 million dollar judgment that was handed down in June.

Monster new they were caught dead to rights and had tried to negotiate the damages down. That didn’t go any better than arguing the nuances of the word ‘dope’. While the judgment will certainly be appealed and a company the size of Monster has the coverage and legal resources to fight such a decision, it serves as a cautionary tale for other companies. Make sure that your employees aren’t clearing intellectual property on your behalf, and make sure your insurances are in place to protect your company against these types of mistakes.

Oh yeah, and don’t mess with the Beasties.

Need to make sure that your company’s coverage can handle such an incidents? Leave a comment, visit our website or drop a line. If I were cooler I would end this post with a ‘Sabotage’ reference, but…..

For more information on the topic or guidance, use the form below or reach out directly to Nathan Therrien at 978-400-7014 or at nathan@bibsma.com

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