Floyd Mandell, national co-head of the Intellectual Property practice and co-head of the Trademarks practice, spoke with Law360 regarding high-profile cases in the tech arena for the coming year. Among the precedent-setting matters are Apple Inc.’s patent infringement battle with smartphone rival Samsung Electronics Corp. In 2014, the court is expected to make significant rulings to determine how product designs are best protected and how close rivals can come when creating competitive products. Floyd says that the issues that persist in the case, such as whether or not and to what extent trade dress protection is available, make it important to watch: “The impact will influence how companies and their counsel go about seeking the maximum protection for their designs and products of this nature, and how close competitors can come to selling products that have a look and feel similar to the market leaders. It will cause more patents to be filed and perhaps more nonfunctional, distinctive features added to popular selling products.”

Floyd also commented on Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., wherein American rock band The Turtles filed a $100 million putative class action in California state court alleging the satellite music provider is illegally circulating songs recorded before 1972. He explains that if the band is able to overcome motions to dismiss and obtain class certification, it could create a risk of substantial liability for Sirius and any other party engaged in the business of playing songs recorded prior to 1972, such as radio stations, bars and restaurants. “Although there is currently no federal copyright protection for pre-1972 songs, several states, including California, have statutes which may cover such recordings if they are upheld,” Floyd said, pointing to California Civil Code § 980(a)(2). “Until there is a resolution, it could change how some businesses treat such songs. For example, they may cease playing them.” (“Technology Cases to Watch in 2014,” January 1, 2014)