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celebrities

Duking it out

by Walter Olson on July 10, 2014

Duke University and the heirs of the late actor John Wayne have been fighting in court for nearly a decade over trademark/licensing rights to the word “Duke” [Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter]

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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]

Will China follow the U.S. lead in consumer litigation? The lawsuit’s target, or one of its targets, is former NBA star Yao Ming, who is said to have endorsed fish oil capsules whose benefits were exaggerated. [China Daily via Tyler Cowen]

After the spectacular crash of a Porsche Carrera GT killed driver Roger Rodas and his passenger, Hollywood actor Paul Walker, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol investigated and concluded that the crash was due not to mechanical problems but to unsafe speeds of up to 94 mph; the vehicle crashed into three trees. Longtime Overlawyered favorite attorney Mark Geragos “said he hired the top experts in the country” for an unbiased evaluation. The resulting wrongful death lawsuit by Kristine M. Rodas against automaker Porsche “says her husband was driving at 55 mph” contrary to the official version. [New York Post]

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Banker: “It should be illegal to start bank runs by spreading mistaken alarms about deposit soundness.”

Ag guy: “It should be illegal to falsely impugn the safety of America’s food supply.”

Hollywood celeb: “It should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV.

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“Estate Says $2,105, IRS Says $434,000,000.” [TaxProf]

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If you pay an athlete or other celebrity for the right to depict them in a poster or videogame, do you have a right to show an accurate rendering of their tattoo without further seeking permission from the original tattoo artist? It’s widely agreed that tattoos enjoy some degree of copyright protection, most obviously so in the case where an infringer has swiped an original design for purposes of tattooing someone else. Damages, at least, would be available in such a case, though it might prove hard to persuade courts to exercise the power accorded them by 17 U.S.C. § 503 to order the “impounding and disposition of infringing articles.” [Ira Boudway, Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

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“Mr. Smith says he is simply trying to get the truth out about New York’s powerful. … But I came to believe that his intent could well be to tell fanciful stories in hopes of drawing media attention to extract settlement payments in his lawsuits.” [Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times]

If you Instagram, Tweet or otherwise disclose anything that goes on there, it’d better be good, because you could be on the hook for $5 million in liquidated damages. [TMZ]

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A New Jersey man claims that he was injured by an insomnia therapy recommended on TV by the high-profile Dr. Mehmet Oz, involving the use of microwave-heated raw rice in a bag to warm the feet. Instead the man got third-degree burns, according to his lawsuit. [Associated Press/NJ.com]

“Hawaii needs to rethink the ‘Steven Tyler Act.’ States can promote the right of privacy while ensuring freedom of speech.” [Josh Blackman/Ilya Shapiro, USA Today]

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Lance Armstrong as litigant

by Walter Olson on January 19, 2013

The disgraced cyclist, like quite a few celebrities (and non-celebrities), had filed defamation actions against persons over statements he had good reason to know were true. That’s not just a violation of his adversaries’ rights, but an inherently sanctionable use of the courts [Michael McCann/Sports Illustrated via Turkewitz; Emily Bazelon/Slate ("Armstrong 'sued so many people that by his own admission he can’t remember their names'")]

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A Fort Lauderdale attorney “Announces He Is Taking on All Celebrity Criminal Cases in Florida” [Scott Greenfield]

And a reaction from @SupremeHaiku: Florida lawyer/ Will defend the defenseless/ If they are famous.

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March 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 5, 2012

  • Trial lawyer TV: mistranslation, plaintiff’s experts were instrumental in “Anderson Cooper 360″ CNN story trying to keep sudden-acceleration theory alive [Corp Counsel, Toyota, PDF, background]
  • “Can I get a form to file a police complaint?” No. No, you can’t [Balko]
  • Madison County lawyer runs for judgeship [MCRecord; earlier on her columnist-suing past]
  • RIP Dan Popeo, founder and head of Washington Legal Foundation [Mark Tapscott, Examiner]
  • Louisiana: “Church Ordered to Stop Giving Away Free Water” [Todd Starnes, Fox via Amy Alkon]
  • Developer of “Joustin’ Beaver” game files for declaratory judgment against singer Justin Bieber’s trademark, publicity claims [THR, Esq.]
  • “Why are Indian reservations so poor?” [John Koppisch, Forbes] “Payday loans head to the Indian reservations” [Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason] Tribal recognition: high-stakes D.C. game where lobbyists get the house rake-off [Chris Edwards, Cato]

Because the best way to show that it’s Not About the Money is to ask for $200 million [TMZ]

This listicle from PopCrunch does remind us that it was only a few months ago that Lindsay Lohan filed a ridiculous lawsuit against E-Trade over an ad that included a “milkoholic” named Lindsay. Also on the list: a David Geffen suit against Neil Young for making “uncharacteristic and uncommercial” music, and the ‘Heeeere’s Johnny” portable-toilet fracas.

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“A year after ‘Kung Fu’ actor David Carradine died from a dangerous sex practice, his wife has filed suit, claiming he would still be alive if he hadn’t been left alone in a hotel that night.” California attorney and Overlawyered favorite Mark Geragos is representing Anne Carradine. [ABC News]

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Says it didn’t properly advise him beforehand that he needed to buy lots of coverage. [ContactMusic.com]

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