Author: Erica Rose

In Britain, teen angst, more over ‘Glee’ ruling

Glee, the American TV show that has become a global hit by capitalizing on teen angst, is in the midst of its own high  legal drama in Britain where Gleeks breathlessly await a further High Court ruling and an appellate decision as to the pop series’ fate in the UK. This all traces back to a recent court case in which Comic Enterprises Ltd. prevailed  over 20th Century Fox Film Corp. in a suit over a trademark for The Glee Club. Comic Enterprises registered the mark in 2001 to cover the various entertainments it offers, this long before Fox’s show was so much as glitter in its creators’ eyes. The British company, which has said it sought to negotiate with the U.S. media monolith before the case ended up in the High Court, demonstrated a key element to persuade the judge to protect its mark: public- or wrong way– confusion, meaning the ordinary folk might think its comedy club was a show spin-off or somehow related to it. The court planned a later hearing to determine remedies.  Fox has said it will appeal the decision, which could keep the show off British TV for its sixth and final season and affect its  merchandising, ending up costing the media company even more beyond its legal fees, possibly to negotiate now with Comic...

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MJ, appellate court wipe away grocer’s score

When a Chicago grocer sought to elbow into a Michael Jordan moment and score points for itself, the basketball superstar showed that he could throw down in a court of law as well as on the hard wood, getting an appellate court to help him wipe the glass for reconsideration of what MJ asserted was a violation of his publicity and trademark rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently reversed a lower court and ordered it to reconsider Jordan’s right of publicity and Lanham Act claims against Jewel Food Stores, a Chicago grocer that had used its logo in an advertisement in Sports Illustrated congratulating Jordan on his achievements when he was inducted into basketball’s Hall of Fame. Jewel had a deal with Time Inc., in which the food retailer got free advertising in exchange for giving prominent display in its stores to a special issue of Sports Illustrated honoring Jordan. In the ad that Jewel created for the issue,  the grocer’s logo was displayed prominently above a picture MJ’s signature sneakers, along with text congratulating Jordan. The superstar athlete, NBA franchise owner and noted businessman and hyper-competitor sued Jewel Food Stores under the Lanham Act,  claiming the ad misappropriated his identity for the grocer’s commercial benefit and said it was likely to cause consumer confusion. He further claimed the ad violated his common law right...

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EU high court clarifies fair use of hyperlinks

The Court of Justice, the European Union’s highest judicial body, has ruled that the authorization of the rights holder is not required to link freely available copyrighted information from one site to another. The case, involving Swedish journalists upset over a site that indexed and pointed to their already posted works online, had been widely watched and was the cause for considerable online buzz. The  judges in Luxembourg decided the matter by considering whether the links provided a means by which a communication to the public occurs — and which, thus, is regulated under European law so originators (authors, composers or others who hold copyrights) must be consulted. The court said that because the materials already were freely available on one site, no new audiences were created, and, thus, the creators’ copyrights were not breached and they did not need to be consulted. If there are pay walls or other content protections, or if the links trace to original material as posted on secondary and not primary  sites, well, the European judges said that is different; those instances breach copyrights. While Hollywood also had kept an eye on this case , the Motion Picture Association of America welcomed the European decision, particularly as it dealt with linking to restricted material. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, the movie and music industries as well as performers of various kinds have battled...

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Brother-sister battle over name sees new light

As the famous psychic Van Praagh perhaps predicted, he can pursue claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition against his sister for using their same  last name as she seeks to build business touting her extrasensory talents — or so was the divination of a federal district court on Long Island, N.Y. Since 1994, James Van Praagh has used  his name and surname in conjunction with his spiritual medium services. He has produced TV’s Ghost Whisperer show, tangled with legendary broadcast host Barbara Walters, appeared on numerous television shows, written books, and has become a well-known practitioner of his craft. In 2010, his sister Lynn began using the last name “Van Praagh” as she promoted herself with similar services, even trying to ride the coat-tails of her famous brother by touting on her website that her siblings are known to have gifts. Of course she long had gone by the name Lynn Gratton, since she was married in 1970, so had she desired to make it as a spiritual medium on her own, she had other name options, other than relying on the family moniker of her famous brother. In 2012, he trademarked use of his full name “James Van Praagh.” He claims to have an unregistered mark for “Van Praagh” and under New York law that is all he needs for a dilution claim....

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Hollywood’s ever-changing, a legend observes

Hollywood is a surprising and always changing place, Bob Broder, a legendary talent agent and Entertainment lawyer, told an engaged audience at Southwestern Law School during a recent appearance. Broder long has specialized in representing television’s leading writers, directors and producers, working now with Chuck Lorre Productions, assisting the firm’s chief in the development and production of television series and other creative projects, including Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Mom. Broder, in a conversation with Steven Krone, the director of the Biederman Institute, said he never intended to be in the...

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