NFL’s Squeeze Play Forces “Harbowl” Trademark Owner to Forfeit Rights

Last year Roy Fox got to thinking – what if NFL Head Coaches and brothers Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) ended up facing each other in the Super Bowl?  With that thought in mind, Fox went out and spent over $1,000 to file trademark applications for the terms “Harbowl” and “Harbaugh Bowl.”  The NFL was not pleased by Fox’s play.  Shortly before the 2012-2013 season began, the League contacted Fox with concerns that his trademarks could become confused with the NFL’s “Super Bowl” trademark.  The NFL then “encouraged” Fox to abandon his quest to have the marks approved. Though Fox attempted to bargain with the League in return for this abandonment – requesting either his costs in pursuing the applications or other NFL goodies such ...
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It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye

On September 8, 2009, John C. Coomer went to see a Kansas City Royals baseball game, an activity he had done dozens of times before.  This time, however, he would not return home unscathed – during an in-game promotion known as the Hotdog Launch, Coomer was struck in the eye by a flying dog thrown by “Sluggerrr,” the team’s mascot.  While the story might seem amusing, Coomer’s injuries were not; the impact of the hotdog detached Coomer’s retina, forcing him to undergo two surgeries to correct his deteriorating vision.  Coomer now sports an artificial lens in one eye. Hoping to recover for his injuries, Coomer filed suit against the Royals asserting claims of negligence against the team for the actions of Sluggerrr.  The Royals countered with assumption of risk defenses.  ...
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In the Hot Seat: Exposure to Armstrong Increases Substantially in Light of Recent Admissions

Seven time Tour de France ‘winner’ Lance Armstrong likely faces increased and significant financial exposure as a result of his recent televised admissions regarding his use of performance enhancing drugs during nearly all of his cycling competitions.  Indeed, Armstrong could stand to lose a significant chunk of his estimated $125 million fortune as a result of the two part interview with Oprah Winfrey as a result of civil actions seeking financial damages based on claims for defamation, malicious prosecution, and fraud.  Moreover, he will almost certainly forfeit tens of millions of dollars in future speaking fees and endorsements as a result of his recent statements. Prior to the interview numerous companies had already indicated that they intended to recoup the proceeds of prior settlement monies with Armstrong.  SCA Promotions, Inc., ...
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The Grinch Might Have Stolen Christmas, but Suit Says Disney Stole Christmas Movie Idea

On January 14, 2013, two producers, Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum, sued Disney, ABC, ABC Family and former ABC executive Beth Miller for breach of an implied in-fact contract and breach of confidence. Grossbard and Rosenblum allege the network stole their idea for a Christmas movie. Grossbard and Rosenblum pitched the idea for a movie called “I Hate Christmas” to ABC Family executives in 2005.  Although the network turned down their movie idea, their complaint contends that the executives reworked those same ideas into “The 12 Dates of Christmas,” which aired on ABC Family in December 2011. As a result, the duo filed suit in the Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified general, compensatory and punitive damages. According to the complaint, “ ‘The 12 Dates of Christmas’ is nothing more ...
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‘McDreamy’ Bests Starbucks in Steamy Auction for Seattle Coffee Chain

Federal Bankruptcy Judge Karen Overstreet in Seattle approved the Chapter 11 sale of Seattle chain Tully’s Coffee for $9.15 million to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey successfully out-bid other interested buyers for the chain, including Starbucks. Starbucks wanted half of Tully’s 47 shops in Washington and California to rebrand as their own, while Philippians-based AgriNuture Inc. sought the rest of Tully’s assets. Together, their bid was worth $10.6 million, more than 13% higher than Dempsey’s bid. Despite Starbucks’ contentions over the “confusing and non-conclusive,” 13-hour auction, Tully’s attorneys reaffirmed their decision to hand over the company to Dempsey’s Global Baristas LLC, saying it was the only bidder that could finalize the deal in short order by January 25, 2013. Further, Tully’s attorneys also agreed that Dempsey’s business was the sole ...
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Khroma Kroma Kardashian: Makeup Artist Claims Perceived Endorsement by Reality Stars Devalues her Cosmetics

Lee Tillett, an Altamonte Springs makeup artist in Florida, is suing the Kardashian sisters — Kim, Kourtney and Khloe — and Boldface Group Inc. for $10 million in trademark infringement counterclaims, alleging they stole the name of her cosmetics line. Tillett filed her lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles. Tillett filed a claim last year for copyright infringement, but Boldface sought a declaratory judgment in November to use the Khroma name despite Tillett’s trademark to the name Kroma. Tillett’s counterclaim was filed in response to Boldface’s declaratory judgment. Tillett maintains the position that Boldface’s use of the name Khroma for a line of cosmetics endorsed by the Kardashians has caused confusion among consumers and, as a result, has damaged her business. According to the suit, “Boldface’s use ...
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Concussion Link to Seau Suicide?

Junior Seau committed suicide nearly eight months ago via self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  Now, reports composed by three independent neurologists have confirmed that Seau – the 20 year NFL veteran linebacker and long-time San Diego Charger – suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or “CTE.”  As described by an ESPN report, this condition is a “progressive disease associated with repeated head trauma.”   CTE has only recently been identified as a potential side effect of playing professional football, a game where players often experience repeated acute blows to the head throughout the course of their careers. Commenting on the report to ABC News and ESPN, Seau’s ex-wife Gina stated “[I] think it’s important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE.  It’s important that we take steps ...
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Game On

At 4:40 a.m. on Sunday, January 6, 2013, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association reached a verbal agreement on the framework of a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement.   Negotiations The new agreement is the product of a 10-day flurry of negotiations that began with a comprehensive proposal from the league on Friday, December 28, 2012. Prior to that, there had been no negotiations between the parties since Thursday, December 6, 2012. The parties met in person at league offices on New Year’s Eve, where the NHLPA presented a comprehensive counterproposal to the league. From that point on, representatives of the NHL and NHLPA met off and on for the remainder of the week. On January 3, 2013, it became known that the Deputy Director ...
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As Clock Ticks Down, a Closer Look at the NHLPA’s Threat to Decertify

The National Hockey League Players Association is considering the aggressive move of disclaiming interest in representing National Hockey League Players in collective bargaining negotiations with the league. That move would technically end negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement and open the avenue of anti-trust litigation for the players. Essentially, the NHLPA would be turning over representation of the players to the agents and the attorneys and risk desertion by groups of players that may be adversely affected by anti-trust litigation. The act of decertification is usually taken by employees that have become dissatisfied with their representation by a labor union. In 2011, both the NFLPA and the NBAPA used the tactic of decertification accompanied with an anti-trust suit to help broker an end to each of their respective lockouts ...
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Girl in Hot Water: Songwriter Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

Alicia Keys is being sued by songwriter Earl Shuman for allegedly sampling a portion of his 1960’s composition, Hey There Lonely Girl, in her new single Girl on Fire. Keys’ song, which was released on September 4, has risen to No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. On December 10, Shuman brought suit in the Central District of California claiming that the 31 year old singer/songwriter never sought permission to sample from the 1962 song composed by Shuman and his writing partner, Leon Carr.  According to the Federal Court complaint that also names her record label Sony Music as a defendant, Shuman retained the right to receive royalties on the song even though the copyright was assigned to music publisher Music Sales Corp., in 1991.  Shuman alleges that Keys is ...
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