As Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat prepares to take on the Chicago Bulls and we find out which underachieving star power forward (Bosh or the Bulls’ Carlos Boozer) can break through to the NBA Finals, we find that Bosh is able to multi-task enough to recently file a very fascinating lawsuit against his former girlfriend and the producer of the VH1 reality show, Basketball Wives.
The former girlfriend, Allison Mathis, reportedly signed to appear on the next season of Basketball Wives. For those who have not had the privilege of watching Basketball Wives, the show focuses on several past and present wives and girlfriends of past and present NBA players. Bosh contends Mathis will be falsely bad-mouthing Bosh’s parenting skills (Mathis is the mother of Bosh’s child) and imply that she has special insight into Bosh’s life as a “Basketball Wife.”
As a result, Bosh says this will damage his trademark as a role model for children; damage Bosh’s “life rights;” and deceive viewers into thinking Mathis is married to Bosh, has special insight into Bosh’s current life, and that Bosh approved of Mathis’ involvement with the show.
As more cases settle before trial with the assistance of a mediator, two things are important to remember. One is that once the parties sign a written agreement settling the case, it is probably enforceable, even if the agreement is just an interim agreement with the “fine print” to be worked out later. Another is that communications during a mediation really are confidential.
These principles led to the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the settlement agreement between Facebook and the Winklevoss twins (famous from the Social Network movie: by the way, did you know one actor played the twins in the movie?) was enforceable. As detailed here, the Winklevoss twins claimed to have been had by Facebook because they were paid off in stock in a manner that was not satisfactory to the twins.
Unfortunately for them, they signed off on an interim settlement agreement that gave Facebook broad discretion on the valuation of the shares to be transferred to the twins. Furthermore, the twins had very competent representation and had conducted a thorough investigation on Facebook before the settlement. Finally, evidence that supposedly proved Facebook duped the twins into the settlement was largely based on what Facebook said or didn’t say during the mediation, and this evidence was excluded because as is typical the parties agreed that communications during the mediation are inadmissible in a subsequent proceeding.
Also, what clinched this was the fact that Facebook’s value has skyrocketed since the settlement agreement, so even if the twins were misled, they haven’t been harmed by it as their share is now worth about $150 million instead of the $45 million the twins originally thought they were getting.
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Although one may think this provides a formula that other businesses can use to fight off ADA lawsuits, there were some unique things about this case that are not present in many other ADA cases. Most notably this building owner had previously received a permit that his building was ADA-compliant. In our experience many ADA defendants never make any efforts to certify they were ADA-compliant.
In addition, this landlord took it upon himself to fight the case all the way to trial. Even though the building owner won the case, the article notes there were portions of the property that were not in compliance with the ADA. Since successful ADA plaintiffs can recover attorney fees, that was a huge risk to take.
Posted inADA Lawsuits|Comments Off on ADA lawsuits – Landlord successfully defends ADA lawsuit
As a refresher on trademark law, a trademark is a distinctive word, phrase, logo, domain name, graphic symbol, or slogan that is used to identify the source of a product and to distinguish a manufacturer’s or merchant’s products from another. Trademark disputes happen when multiple trademarks cause customers to become confused about the source of a product. Time will tell how many of these Tiger Blood trademark applications are granted.
Posted inTrademark Law|Comments Off on Trademark Law – The Charlie Sheen Trademark Gold Rush!
Last December a San Francisco gallery received a cease and desist letter from artist Jeff Koons asking that they stop selling bookends for allegedly violating Koons’ copyright, as detailed here. Los Angeles art patrons know Koons’ balloon dog sculptures as one such sculpture is part of Eli Broad’s collection and has been exhibited at LACMA.
It is interesting to wonder if there would have been a different result had this situation not been so roundly criticized online. A pro bono lawyer even stepped in to file a lawsuit to assert the gallery’s rights.
Also, arguably Koons would have a more valid claim against products that looked more similar to Koons’ sculptures than the bookends here.
And of note, the manufacturer of Koons’ balloon dog sculptures has gone out of business due to the recession, perhaps shedding light on why Koons was seeking to monopolize the balloon dog business for himself.
Posted inCopyright Law|Comments Off on Copyright Law – Justice prevails, Jeff Koons does not own all rights to balloon dogs
A lot of people probably already know this, but just in case you don’t, the California Court of Appeal in the case of Holmes v. Petrovich Development Company held, among other things, that an e-mail sent by an employee to her attorney on a company computer was not protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege.
The court held this was not a “confidential communication,” which would be privileged, because the company policy was that its computers were to be used only for company business; employees were prohibited from using company computers for personal e-mail; and the company said its employees should not expect any right of privacy regarding personal e-mails sent on company computers. In the end, the court compared the personal e-mail to talking with her lawyer in a loud voice with the door open (which is a lame analogy in my mind).
There may be a different outcome if there is no company policy on personal e-mails but if it’s a company computer that’s still taking a big chance. As time passes and more people have smartphones this will be less of a problem in the future.
Posted inEmployment Law|Comments Off on Employment Law – Personal e-mail sent on company computer not privileged
Jeff Lee and Kenneth Tanji, Jr., are currently in Las Vegas attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Besides making contact with new people as well as some of our clients, it has been fascinating to see the new developments in technological products. Some of the highlights were exhibitors showing new products for 3-D-TV’s, 3-D video games, tablet products to rival the iPad, smart controls for household appliances, and automotive electronics. The convention was very crowded and we take that as a sign that better economic times are ahead. More information on CES can be found here.
The China Law Blog recently presented an informative 4 part series on suing Chinese companies in US courts (links to all 4 parts are contained in the linked blog post). Although the moral of the series seemed to be that even if a case could be made against a Chinese company, the difficulties of enforcing a US judgment in China makes it more likely filing a lawsuit in China instead would be a good idea.
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In recent years the Eastern District of Texas, based in Tyler, has been a popular venue for parties filing patent infringement cases. Theories behind this range from a jury pool that presumably is friendly to parties asserting property rights and local court rules that allow for a speedier trial. This has resulted in many cases being filed by parties who have no or minimal connection with East Texas against companies who have no connection with East Texas other than that they may have sold or offered to sell (i.e. by the internet) what often times is a minimal amount of products in that geographical area.
Lately the courts have been more willing to transfer patent cases from East Texas to court districts that are located closer to the parties, the latest example being the case of In re Microsoft, No. 944 (Federal Circuit November 8, 2010), which was filed by a Plaintiff based in the United Kingdom but which had opened a Texas office and set up a Texas corporation just days before filing suit in the Eastern District. The blog for the Washington Legal Foundation provides analysis of the recent developments in transfer motions in the Eastern District of Texas.
Posted inPatent Law|Comments Off on Patent Law – Tyler, Texas once again denied as a venue for a patent infringement case
A California appellate court in the case of Hernandez v. Chipotle is the latest California case to weigh in on meal breaks.
Although the primary ruling was on class action issues that we won’t get into, the Hernandez court did confirm that although employers are required to provide meal breaks of at least 30 minutes for a work period of more than 5 hours, the employers are not required to make sure that such meal breaks are actually taken. This is because “requiring enforcement of meal breaks would place an undue burden on employers whose employees are numerous or who do not appear to remain in contact with the employer during the day.” In this case, the affected workers were Chipotle restaurant employees.
Of course, the looming Brinker case, currently under consideration by the California Supreme Court, could change all this but for now this is the law in California.
Posted inEmployment Law|Comments Off on Employment Law – Meal Breaks – Employers not required to ensure meal breaks are taken