Many cultures have the tradition of spring cleaning. These range from those in Iran observing the Persian New Year festival of Nowruz (and the practice of “khooneh tekouni,” or “shaking the house” to prepare for Nowruz), to the Jewish traditional pre-Passover cleaning (and the ritual bedikat chametz), to the Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera) traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church to the Asian celebrations of Ninyabaat, Songkran, and Xiao Nian. In more Northern countries and frontier cultures, spring cleaning presented the opportunity to wipe away soot and grime of winters indoors in shelters lit and heated by oil-burning lamps or wood-burning fires. In the last decade, the United Kingdom has taken the tradition outdoors, with The Great British Spring Clean, which is a national campaign run by Keep Britain Tidy. As one participant noted, “It is the UK’s single biggest environmental mass participation event and sees volunteers from across the country make more than one million miles of British outdoor spaces cleaner and greener.”
And these traditions may have biological, evolutionary roots, as one resource notes that “spring cleaning has more to do with human biology than anything else. We are less active and motivated during the cold winter days and a good reason for that… Due to the lack of sunlight during drab winter days, our brain produces larger amounts of melatonin – a chemical responsible for literally making us sleepier. Melatonin levels are bound to the amount and frequency of sunlight exposure we get. The more time we spend outside, the less we produce the hormone of sleepiness. Some say that to ‘spring clean’ means to wake up from a melatonin-induced slumber of spirit and mind.”
The need for spring cleaning, and a sense of coming out of hibernation, seems especially acute this April for this intellectual property lawyer. There are so many scattered intellectual property issues of interest to be collected, organized, and commented upon, many as follow-ups to previous posts that need to be dusted off in light of further developments. There’s a duty to readers to do that so they can see how some of these stories have continued, or how new items connect to old ones. And in other ways, there is a need to plant some totally new seeds of thinking and analysis. So, rather than simply focusing on a single case, decision, or concept in this post, we will address here a potpourri of items, as we have on occasion in the past in posts like “…as best as your interests don’t conflict with mine”: Lawyers Fighting Over Intellectual Property, Picking: A Few IP Collectibles Since My Last Post, and List of Holiday-Related Trade Secret/Non-Compete Cases.
Where IP Spring Cleaning Starts:
Whether applied to home or office, literally or figuratively, spring cleaning’s cultural, historic, and biological roots have intellectual property law analogs and other legal offshoots. For instance, as recently as 2019, parties engaged in a copyright fight over whether “Daisy Do All and the Mayde Spring Cleaning Dust Bunny are substantially similar,” with a California federal district court holding, in paragraph 38, that “both depict maid characters with big eyes and curly hair tied up in a polka-dotted ribbon with a bow. Both are wearing short-sleeved dresses over capri-length pants. The right foot is tilted inwards in both and both characters are holding a duster in the left hand, with the right hand flexed on the side of the body. Considering the selection and arrangement of these elements in combination, the works are substantially similar…” Likewise, as long ago as 1926, the Sixth Circuit addressed a case about a patent that “had to do solely with an improvement, consisting of a spring cleaning device,” albeit not a seasonal tidiness concept but actually an invention usable year-round to assure that “buckets on the continuous chain would be automatically cleaned by a resilient scraper.”