Here are four of the most famous intellectual property disputes between world-renowned company brands, and, yes - a macaque monkey.

If you’ve never heard of Napster Inc., that’s because the free peer-to-peer music file-sharing company no longer exists. In 2000, A&M Record Inc. and superstars including Dr. Dre and Metallica, won significant lawsuits against Napster citing copyright infringement on an unrivalled scale.

They claimed that Napster’s software - which allowed twenty million users to freely share MP3 files of their favourite music online was unlawful. The case set a precedent in 21st century copyright law regarding the impact of peer-to-peer file sharing on the earnings of the creators and owners of original artistic content.

In 2007, the high-end signature hand-bag and luggage maker, Louis Vuitton Malletier, lost an outrageous copyright infringement case against comedy fashion company Haute Diggity Dog.

In 2007, the high-end signature hand-bag and luggage maker, Louis Vuitton Malletier, lost an outrageous copyright infringement case against comedy fashion company Haute Diggity Dog.

The comedy designers had released a line of parody products named Chewy Vuitton, to go along with other memorable knock-offs such as Chewnel No.5 and Sniffany & Co.

Remarkably, the U.S Court of Appeals ruled against the claim of copyright breach, stating that because of the element of parody, the products were adequately differentiated and unique, thereby negating any copyright or trademark infringement.

Mattel Inc., creators of the Barbie doll, won a huge case against rival toy doll maker, MGA Entertainment Inc. back in 2008.

MGA claimed that Mattel had copied their latest range of Bratz dolls in order to steal back MGA’s dominant market share. The designs were simply too similar, featuring disproportionately large heads and slim bodies.

However, lawyers working on Mattel’s behalf managed to turn the case around, proving that an ex-Mattel designer who had subsequently worked on the design team for MGA had used designs that he had created while employed at Mattel.

In fact, those doll designs were still the legal property of Mattel. MGA was ordered to pay damages to the tune of $100,000,000 and temporarily remove their dolls from shelves. It just goes to show, instigating an intellectual property claim can end up being an expensive miscalculation.

In 2011, Naruto, a curious macaque monkey in Indonesia picked up nature photographer David Slater’s camera and took one of the most famous selfies in recent years.

David Slater’s copyright infringement claim against those who had copied or downloaded the photo from his online posts was rejected, the court ruling that Mr. Slater did indeed own the camera, but not the photo.

A counter claim filed in 2015 on behalf of Naruto the macaque sought to claim damages against Mr. Slater and others, and secure the intellectual property rights under Naruto’s name as the author of a work of art.

The poignant argument in the case is whether it can be said that Naruto knew what he was doing. We know what we think – what about you?

If being at the forefront of developments in technology and the intellectual asset protection of art and music sounds like the career you want, check out the online Master of Laws (LLM) in Legal Practice from The University of Law.

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