In the most entertaining legal battle to develop out of Super Bowl XLIX, Katy Perry has famously attempted to copyright Left Shark, the much-celebrated Internet phenomenon of the month. In a more recent development, Perry has made further moves to bolster her intellectual property rights—this time with a trademark claim.
The origins of Left Shark are by now a familiar subject: two “sharks” served as backup dancers in Perry’s beach-themed halftime performance; one of them unexpectedly stole the show by bumbling his way through the choreography. The less-than-perfect performance did not escape the internet’s attention and collective amusement, and so Left Shark was born.
Before long, Fernando Sosa (of figurine company Shapeways) began recreating the shark for sale in miniature, and Perry’s lawyers responded with a cease-and-desist letter, claiming that Sosa’s product “infringes [Perry’s] exclusive rights in numerous ways.” Represented by NYU law professor Chris Sprigman, Sosa struck back by rejecting Perry’s ownership of copyright. Sprigman cited Perry’s own quotes, which indicated that she was not the “boss” of her halftime show, including, presumably, the production decisions leading to the creation of Left Shark. Continue reading