La-La-Lawsuits: A Look Back on June’s Finest Litigious Moments

June 30th, 2011

Back in April, Christian Leboutin slapped Yves Saint Laurent with a $1 million + lawsuit for trademark infringement, claiming that a pair of 2011 YSL shoes with a red sole violated Leboutin’s trademarked red soled shoe style and creates a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace.  Most recently, YSL backfired with a claim that Leboutin had fraudulently trademarked the red sole in an attempt to monopolize that style in the shoe industry, a style that dates back to 18th century Europe as well as The Wizard of Oz.  Trademark infringement suits are general fact intensive.  One interesting fact of the case is that the YSL 2011 contained shoes with green soles, blue soles, red soles, etc.  The case will likely be settled, as these high profile situations often are, but it does bring up questions as to what extent fashion designers can use trademark protection to claim exclusive use over a color.

The Black Keys (love them, by the way!) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a bank and advertising agency, claiming the defendants used the song “Tighten Up” without permission.

Dish Network has announced it has obtained a $25 million award and permanent injunction against and affiliates for pirating its satellite television.

Snooki has lost her license and potentially faces a civil lawsuit in Italy for crashing her car into the police.

Gail Dosik, who has run a Greenwich Village bakery called ”One Tough Cookie” since 2005, is suing Scripps Network over the Food Network‘s forthcoming baking reality show, Tough Cookies, arguing that Food Network’s new show is likely to confuse consumers.

A California judge has ruled that celebrities who walk down the red carpet at an Hollywood event imply their consent to the use of their likeness in photographs. The ruling dismisses a class action lawsuit brought by Shirley Jones, star of the TV series The Partridge Family.

A day before scheduled to go to trial, Dr. Dre settled a lawsuit with his former record label  WIDEawake Death Row Records over damages from unauthorized online sales of his album “The Chronic”.

Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, of the 1970s pop-punk group The Runaways,  filed suit seeking to enjoin distribution of a 36-track album, Take It or Leave It, which features contemporary groups like The Donnas, Peaches and Dandy Warhols covering classic Runaways material such as “Cherry Bomb.”  The pair claim that the release violates their right of publicity, using their likenesses to market the album without their permission.  Generally, no permission is needed to record cover songs, as there is a compulsory  mechanical license outlined in the Copyright Act with set royalty rates.

Warner Bros. settled the lawsuit with tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill.  Whitmill designed Mike Tyson’s famous face tattoo, and sued Warner Bros. over a similar version used in The Hangover 2 on Ed Helms face.  Whitmill was denied an injunction to stop the theatrical release of the film, and Warner Bros. had said that if the case did not settle, it would digital modify the tattoo image for the video release of the film.  Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

NBC prevailed in a lawsuit brought by writer Mark Gable, who claimed that the network stole a screenplay to create the hit series My Name is Earl.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a case brought by the heirs of John Steinbeck to regain control of the author’s books by using of the Copyright Act’s termination provisions.

Hip hop artist Lil Wayne has been sued three times in one week over one album, Tha Carter III. In two of the lawsuits, separate producers are seeking unpaid royalties. The other lawsuit involves an illegal sampling claim by Bridgeport Music, the publisher that controls rights to many George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic songs.

Viacom is suing Cablevision over Cablevision’s distribution of its channels including MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon on tablet devices like the iPad, claiming that such streaming constitutes a breach of contract and copyright infringement.

The Winklevoss twins dropped their 9th Circuit (California) lawsuit against Facebook related to the social networking site’s creation, reportedly accepting a settlement that was worth $65 million when they agreed to it in 2008; however, the next they day filed another suit against Facebook in Masachusetts federal court, seeking further discovery to support their claim that Facebook “intentionally or inadvertently suppressed evidence” during the 2008 settlement negotiations over whether  Zuckerberg stole their business idea.

Rapper 50 Cent sued Internet advertising company Traffix Inc. for using his image without permission in the graphic “Shoot the Rapper” ad, which he says promotes violence and threatens his safety.