On May 1, 2019, ad agency, Betty Inc. (“Betty”), which sued Pepsi for stealing its idea for a Super Bowl commercial starring actress Janelle Monae, urged a New York federal court to reject Pepsi’s Motion For Summary Judgment saying the distinct elements of Betty’s pitch ended up being used as Pepsi’s “The Joy of Dance” commercial.
On April 25, 2019, the Appellate Court for the Second District reversed a win for a homeowner of a midcentury home- the Sheats-Goldstein residence- featured in the movie “The Big Lebowski,” forcing him to now face another trial with a man who fell onto a hillside while working at a party at the house.
On May 1, 2019, Representative Hakeem Jeffries (“Jeffries”), a Democrat from the State of New York, and Representative Doug Collins, a Republican from the State of Georgia, introduced a bill that would make it easier for writers, musicians and artists to sue for copyright infringement by establishing a small claims court for copyright law.
Following up on our February 12, 2019 article entitled “Conan O’Brien Trial Set Over Stolen Jokes”: the upcoming trial between Conan O’Brien (“O’Brien”) and a freelance comedy writer Robert Alexander Kaseberg (“Kaseberg”), who allege that O’Brien stole his jokes,
On April 4, 2019, eight states- Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee- argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn an October 2018 Eleventh Circuit decision that wiped out the state of Georgia’s copyright protection to annotations to its official code of laws.
On April 8, 2019, Minnesota U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright ordered George Ian Boxill (“Boxill”), a sound engineer, to pay a nearly $4 million arbitration award to Prince’s estate, Paisley Park Enterprises, for releasing an unauthorized EP entitled “Deliverance,” consisting of Prince’s original recordings.
Following up on our November 30, 2018 article entitled “Alleged Sex Cult [NXIVM], Which Includes Smallville Star, Asks New York Court To Toss Indictments”: On April 9, 2019, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack (“Mack”) plead guilty to racketeering charges in connection with her role in “NXIVM.”
On March 18, 2019, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of an attorney who represented R. Kelly. The attorney was alleged to have fraudulently promised to hold a concert promoter’s $500,000 in escrow but instead forwarded the money to R. Kelly, who spent it before the deal collapsed.
On March 18, 2019, a Washington state appeals court denied the makers of 5-Hour Energy drinks- Living Essentials LLC and Innovative Ventures LLC- their appeal to dismiss a $4.3 million award against them in a false advertising lawsuit. The Court of Appeals determined that the trial court was correct in finding that the above-described companies did not have a sufficient basis to claims about the products.
TRADEMARK OWNER OF PHARSE “AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME” SUING PRODUCERS AND DISTRIBUTORS OF “ST. VINCENT” MOVIE
On March 20, 2019, well-known horse racing announcer Dave Johnson (“Johnson”) sued the producers and distributors of the film “St. Vincent,” (the “Film”) alleging that the line spoken by actor Bill Murray (“Murray”) “AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME” infringes his trademark.
On March 14, 2019, the Ninth Circuit ruled that “generic words” and “short phrases” such as those of songwriter Alisa Apps (“Apps”) are not copyrightable.
VOLTAGE PICTURES DODGES WRITER-DIRECTOR’S COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT OVER “THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN”
On March 12, 2019, U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall of the Central District of California granted Voltage Pictures’ motion for summary judgment in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by a writer-director who had worked extensively on an upcoming film entitled, “The Professor and The Madman,” starring Mel Gibson and Sean Penn.
On March 12, 2019, a California federal court judge tossed copyright infringement claims filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (the company that controls Dr. Seuss’ intellectual property), holding that a “mashup” of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek was protected by the fair use doctrine.
NINTH CIRCUIT DENIES CRYSTAL DAN AKROYD’S REQUEST FOR $4.3 MILLION IN ATTORNEYS’ FEES FOR PROTECTING THE “TRADE DRESS” OF HIS BRAND OF VODKA
On March 12, 2019, the Ninth Circuit denied Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka company’s request to be reimbursed $4.3 million in attorneys’ fees, after winning a lawsuit against a competing brand of vodka that had utilized the look and feel of the Crystal Head brand.
On February 26, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint in California federal court alleging that movie writer-director, Daniel Adams (“Adams”), and his music producing partner, Michael Flanders (“Flanders”), defrauded at least two investors out of tens of thousands of dollars.
On February 27, 2019, a February 4th ruling of an arbitrator’s award against 21st Century Fox Inc. (“Fox”) was made public for $179 million. The claimants were key personnel behind the TV crime drama, “Bones.” The case as based upon Fox wrongfully withholding “chunks of the show’s profits.”
On February 28, 2019, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu judge tentatively rejected Harvey Weinstein, Miramax LLC and others' attempt to dismiss claims alleging that they stole intellectual property from the author of “The Amityville Horror” to create a film sequel, "The Amityville Horror: The Awakening.”
On February 28, 2019, an attorney labeled a “copyright troll” by a New York federal judge filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Netflix over footage used in Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentary.
ZILLOW SUED BY DEVELOPER WHO CLAIMS ZILLOW’S PUBLIC INFORMATION DROPPED HOME VALUE BY ALMOST $100 MILLION
On February 24, 2019, Los Angeles real estate developer Bruce Makowsky (“Makowsky”) filed a lawsuit against the real estate listings website known as “Zillow,” claiming that Zillow incorrectly reported a massive Bel Air mansion had sold on three separate occasions for much less than its current $150 million price tag.
On February 22, 2019, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard E. Rico refused to toss Viacom Inc.’s case against Netflix based upon allegations that Netflix illegally recruits employees from Netflix’s competitors (including Viacom).
On February 27, 2019, the Sixth Circuit dismissed a defamation suit brought by Portia Boulger (“Boulger”) against actor James Woods (“Woods”), claiming Woods tweeted a false story about Boulger and questioned if she was a “plant” who did a Nazi salute at a Donald Trump rally.
SLOT GAME MAKER SEEKS DAMAGES UNDER DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT AFTER PREVAILING IN A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT
On February 8, 2019, Slot game maker GC2 Inc. asked for the maximum penalty allowed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) after a jury found that three companies infringed their artwork for online slot games.
On February 14, 2019, New York federal Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger declined to dismiss the case filed by Jamaican reggae performer Flourgon (whose real name is Michael May) against Miley Cyrus, alleging that much of her 2013 hit “We Can’t Stop” was copied from his 1988 reggae song.