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In general it’s actionable to claim, without a Hollywood celebrity’s consent, that he or she recommends or endorses your fashion item. But what about merely asserting, accurately, that the character played by the celebrity wore the item in a movie? Or publicizing a picture taken in a public place of the celebrity shopping for one’s product or at one’s store? Lawsuits filed on behalf of actresses Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl, and Halle Berry may help shed light on the question. [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

February 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2014

  • “Woman Arrested Nine Years After Failing to Return Rented Video” [S.C.: Lowering the Bar, more]
  • “Why India’s Ban Against Child Labor Increased Child Labor” [James Schneider, EconLib]
  • “I’ve never seen an attorney general sanctioned.” Court hits Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto with sanctions after collapse of robosigning suit against mortgage servicer that state hired D.C.’s Cohen Milstein to bring [Daniel Fisher, update (case settles)]
  • Another review of the new collection The American Illness: Essays on the Rule of Law (Frank Buckley, ed.) [Bainbridge, earlier]
  • They would be major: “The Gains from Getting Rid of ‘Run Amok’ Occupational Licensing” [David Henderson]
  • E-cigarettes could save lives [Sally Satel, Washington Post]
  • How incentives to avoid tax can lead to social tragedy, in this case via ABBA stage outfits [Guardian]

January 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 17, 2014

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The case against Dillard’s we noted earlier this month, and the one against Saks a while back, are no outliers: “Just in the past seven years, the Hells Angels have brought more than a dozen cases in federal court, alleging infringement on apparel, jewelry, posters and yo-yos.” [New York Times]


“Hells Angels is suing 8732 Apparel and Dillard’s Inc. in federal court, claiming trademark infringement of its famous skull-with-wings logo known as the Hells Angels Death Head.” [My San Antonio] The U.S. Department of Justice along with various state law enforcement agencies have deemed the celebrated motorcycle gang to be an organized criminal enterprise.


In cease-and-desist letters, the NSA and DHS have moved to squash satirical use of their insignia in connection with t-shirts and mugs saying things like “The NSA: The Only Part of Government That Actually Listens” [Paul Alan Levy]


“A retirement fund for police and firefighters in Florida is suing Lululemon Athletica Inc., taking issue with a decision by Lululemon’s compensation committee to boost the maximum payout of the executive bonus plan just before a $60 million recall of yoga pants.” [New York Post]

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Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on October 17, 2012

  • “Judge in Asbestos Litigation Says Navy Ships Aren’t Products” [Legal Intelligencer]
  • NYT goes in search of the trial lawyers’ case on the Blitz gas can bankruptcy [earlier here, here]
  • Gun control lobby hails as “groundbreaking” NY appellate court allowing suit against gun manufacturer [WSJ Law Blog, NYLJ]
  • “Mechanical Bull Tosses Rider, Prevails in Court” [Abnormal Use]
  • Well-known expert witness pops up in consumer popcorn injury case [Drug and Device Law] 2004 Missouri workplace exposure case: “‘Popcorn Lung’ Couple Gets $20M Award, Files for Bankruptcy” [ABC News]
  • “Bumbo Baby Seat Recalled Because It Is Only 99.999475% Safe” [Skenazy, Agitator]
  • “Summary Judgment For Crocs in Massachusetts Escalator Injury Case” [Abnormal Use]

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Kerri Smith came up with a new design for a maternity support pillow and decided to sell it online. Then came the unpleasant surprise: 15 states require “law tags” on pillows and each charges its own fee, ranging from $5 to $720 a year. First year cost of complying with those state laws in order to start taking orders from anywhere in the country: $4,660. And that’s before more states join the 15 that currently exact fees. [Becket Adams, The Blaze/WTAM] As for a pillow intended for the actual baby, don’t even ask.


Columnist Debra Saunders quotes me on the Federal Trade Commission’s extraction of $40 million from a shoe maker for hyping its sneakers in its ads. As Saunders points out, we rely on Washington, D.C. for help on issues like this since if there’s anything the political class is earnestly opposed to, it’s overpromising. [San Francisco Chronicle]


The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stands guard against them. [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids]


Good for the sole

by Walter Olson on October 19, 2011

And helps in avoiding heels too: “That’s the best way: You just get on with the whole thing. Never mind suing anyone. And just do something different.” — NYT’s Bill Cunningham on the Louboutin trademark litigation over red soles on fashion shoes (via Ann Althouse, who now offers an all-law-blog option).

November 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 8, 2010

  • “Dad Settles Suit Against Crocs Over Daughter’s Escalator Injury” [ABA Journal, Knoxville News]
  • Almost unheard-of: “California state bar to investigate 130 prosecutors” [LEF]
  • Judge flays U.S.-based lawyer in Chevron-Ecuador suit [, more, Dan Fisher/Forbes]
  • “Federal Government Acknowledges Constitutional Limits on Housing Discrimination Law” [Eugene Volokh on HUD dismissal of "Christian-roommate" complaint, earlier]
  • “Brave and brilliant decision” from Judge Posner points way to provide relief from class action plaintiffs who won’t accept defeat [McConnell and Beck, Trask]
  • “Referring to Former Boss as Slimebag Does Not Constitute Disparagement, At Least in Ohio” [Robert Fitzpatrick]
  • “Couldn’t get elected dogcatcher” — actually, dogcatching’s harder than being a Senator [Christopher Beam, Slate]
  • Midterm election wipeout — for Republicans, that is [four years ago on Overlawyered]

Over its alleged fashion use of the Angels’ trademarked “death’s-head” image [Legal Blog Watch]


Ugg-ly trademark lawyering?

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2010

According to Felix Salmon, the company that owns the trademark in most countries on “Ugg” for sheep-fleece footwear has used it in “extremely aggressive” fashion against competitors, most particularly against exports from Australia where the term is generic and small firms have produced boots and shoes under similar names for many years.