Intellectual Property Law Update - Blurred Lines: Pharrell Williams et al v Bridgeport Music et al

Intellectual Property
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In one corner: the grown-up children of the late Marvin Gaye

A true megastar of soul music, Marvin Gaye topped the charts a dozen times in the US and around the world from his first big hit in 1967, I Heard it through the Grapevine, to 1982’s amorous Sexual Healing.

But there was another very serious side to his work, epitomised by his deeply stirring 1971 protest against both the Vietnam War and the treatment of its veterans, What’s Going On? That war inspired many a protest song, but few were more disarming and effective than this. Drawing in the listener with a bongo beat and sax solo, Gaye smoothly but soulfully opens a conversation with his mother and his brother (his brother Frankie was a Vietnam vet), before explaining to his authoritarian father: “Father, father, we don’t need to escalate, you see war is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate”.
Gaye died tragically in 1984, aged 44, shot by his father after intervening in an argument between his parents. 

This case concerns Gaye’s No 1 hit from the summer of 1977: Got to Give it Up, an infectious dance hit with Gaye’s falsetto vocals sitting on top of a sparse arrangement of driving percussion, a syncopated cowbell, an intermittent bass riff and background party noise.

To read the remainder of this article, please click here.

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Ed Heerey QC practises in commercial law and is a specialist in intellectual property law

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