La-la-lawsuits: A Look Back at December’s Finest Litigious Moments

December 30th, 2011

Croatian journalist James Braddock has sued Angelina Jolie for copyright infringement of his book, The Soul Shattering (his website discusses the legal dispute in detail).  Braddock claims Jolie’s directorial-debut documentary, In the Land of Blood and Honey, infringes upon his 2007 book.  Braddock allegedly discussed the book in detail with the Bosnian producer of the film before the film was made.  The movie commenced production in 2010, and Braddock only recently filed the lawsuit, just weeks before the scheduled release.  Because of the late timing, the judge seemed reluctant to grant Braddock’s motion for a temporary restraining order and Braddock withdrew the motion before the decision was finalized.  The case was filed with the federal court in Illinois, but the judge has indicated a likelihood he will transfer it to California, given that the parties – Croatian and Californian – have pretty much no connection to the midwest state.

The Meester family will be having a peaceful Christmas, now that  the Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester and her mother Constance Meester have resolved their legal dispute.  The suit began over Leighton alleging that Constance misused the actress’s money, then developed into the issue of whether Constance was entitled to compensation for her alleged role in guiding her daughter’s career.  Most recently, Constance withdrew her claims leading to a default judgment in favor of Leighton.

The estate of Bruce Gary, drummer of the band The Knack (best known for the song “My Sharona”) has sued Capitol Records, claiming unpaid royalties for digital downloads.  The issue is whether digital downloads on platforms such as iTunes count as a ‘license’ of the master or a ‘sale’ of the phonorecords under the recording agreement.  Phonorecords implies the physical album sale, rather than digital and the label pays significantly lower royalties to artists on sales than licenses.  For a license, the royalty rate could be up to 50%, whereas for a sale the rate would likely be closer to 12%.

2011 has been a rough year for The Hangover II.  Earlier this year, Tyson’s tattoo artist sued over the use of the iconic face tattoo.  Now Louis Vuitton is suing, claiming that the bag carried by Zach Galifianakis marked LVM was a fake.  In the scene, Galifianakis says, ” “Careful, that is.. that is a Louis Vuitton.”  LV is suing under state and federal claims for unfair competition, false designation of origin, and trademark dilution. The full complaint can be read here.