Dat’s My Slogan…‘Big Easy’ Coffee Shop Sued Over Trademarked Rallying Cry

On October 4th, 2012,  Judge Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana denied Who Dat Yat Chat, LLC’s motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Who Dat Inc.’s lawsuit claiming trademark infringement for use of the slogan, “Who Dat”.  “Who Dat,” the Saint’s rallying cry, was previously trademarked by Who Dat Inc., co-merchandiser with the National Football League, which produced an Aaron Neville song in 1983 using the slogan, according to lawyers for Who Dat Inc. Who Dat Yat Chat, a coffee shop, sought to have Who Dat Inc.’s suit dismissed claiming that the phase was “abandoned” by Who Dat Inc. since it has not sold merchandising bearing the trademark for more than three years.  It also argued there would be no infringement since the mark would be used in ...
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No Doubt Settles ‘Band Hero’ Lawsuit over Avatars with Activision

On October 3, 2012, popular musicians No Doubt settle their ongoing lawsuit against Activision Publishing, Inc. over the use of the group’s ‘avatars’ in the ‘Band Hero’ video game. No Doubt had filed suit for breach of contract and right to publicity claims when it was discovered that players could use the No Doubt avatars to perform songs in the game by other musicians. No Doubt alleged that they had been “turned into a virtual karaoke act” by the game, and asserted that the game feature negatively affected their “carefully crafted public image.” They argued that their ‘avatars’ should only be allowed to perform the three No Doubt singles the group licensed to Activision for inclusion in the game. Previous attempts by Activision to have the case dismissed were all ...
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GUEST EXPERT ANALYSIS: Why the Lockout Strategy did not work for the NFL and why the NHL is in a Different Position

Looking for a repeat of its successful bargaining strategy of locking out players, the National Football League locked out its 121 part-time referees in June following the expiration of the National Football League Referees Association contract on May 31, 2012.  Three months later, the NFL decreased its demand for concessions and increased its wage proposal in order to end this work stoppage before the replacement referees made another bad call on the field that changed the outcome of another game.  Most people credit the call awarding a touchdown to Seattle’s Golden Tate at the end of the Monday Night Football Game between the Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers on September 24, 2012; however, there were at least five factors that caused the NFL’s lockout strategy to fail. In early ...
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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … barber? Barbershop Sued by DC Comics over Superman Marks

DC Comics has filed a trademark infringement suit against a Florida barbershop owner in federal court.  The suit accuses the owners of “Supermen Fades to Fros LLC” of using signs, promotion materials and logos which bear DC Comics’ trademarked “Superman” materials. DC Comics requested that the shop owner cease the use of the marks on multiple occasions without result.  DC’s complaint notes that “DC has never at any time authorized defendants to utilize the infringing promotions in conjunction with any barbershop business and/or the sale or offer for sale of hair groom services.  Defendants’ use of the infringing promotions is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake and to deceive as to the affiliation, connection or association of defendants’ infringing barbershops with DC.” The complaint also alleges that “Supermen Fades ...
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League Blows Whistle on Replacement Refs, Strikes Deal with Regular Officials

Thanks to the poor performance of their replacements, the NFL’s regular officiating crews have reached an agreement for a new deal in place with the League.  While the deal will not be official until it is ratified by a vote of the officials’ union on Friday in Dallas, a regular crew will take the field for tonight’s game in Baltimore to the relief of players, coaches, and fans alike. A series of blown calls, including the dramatic touchdown/interception fiasco at the end of Monday night’s Seahawks/Packers showdown sealed the replacement refs’ fate.  In the face of increasing public pressure and growing incidents between players, coaches and the replacement refs, the NFL returned to the table to reach a deal with their regular officials. Two federal mediators helped the League reach ...
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Pacquiao v. Mayweather Lawsuit Update – Round 2

Just a week after being ordered by the Court to pay $114,000 in legal fees for failing to appear at a deposition, it appears that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has reached a settlement with Manny Pacquiao.  A pretrial agreement noted that the boxers are in the process of settling the defamation case brought by Pacquiao in December 2009.  Pacquiao filed suit alleging that Mayweather accusing him of using performance-enhancing drugs. The terms of the settlement are confidential.  However, a statement released on behalf of the Mayweathers noted that they “wish to make it clear that they never intended to claim that Manny Pacquiao has used or is using any performance-enhancing drugs, nor are they aware of any evidence that Manny Pacquiao has used performance-enhancing.” Boxing fans have been waiting for a ...
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Yankees Accused of Cheating Stadium Workers Out of Tips

Concession workers at Yankee Stadium have sued the team, claiming they are being cheated out of the tips automatically added to their bills.  Thirty two current and former waiters in the Yankee Stadium’s exclusive box seats have filed a lawsuit demanding their share of the team’s concession profits. New York Yankees Partnership and Legends Hospitality LLC (“Legends”) was formed by the team in 2009 to operate the concessions at the new Stadium.  Legends is owned by the Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and Goldman Sachs, and reportedly generates approximately $25 million annually.  According to the complaint, Legends kept between $500,000 and $1 million that was marked as gratuity on patron’s bills. From 2009-2011, the menu stated that a 20 percent “service charge” would be added to the bill, and that “additional ...
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Recent Deals Demonstrate Need For Cap on Contract Length

The Minnesota Wild made waves this offseason by signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to identical 13 year, $98 million contracts.  Shortly before that, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a 12 year, $104.4 million contract extension that will pay him through the age of 38.  These contracts epitomize a problem that has bedeviled the NHL ever since the salary cap was introduced following the 2004-5 lockout: salary cap circumvention.  And, to no surprise, the NHL once again locked out the players when the collective bargaining agreement expired.  These contracts, and others like them, are at the heart of the dispute. Each of these three contracts contains a common theme: higher annual contract values early in the contract, when the player is still in the prime of his career, ...
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Ghost Rider Creator Consigned to Copyright Hell with Appellate Decision

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest (for the Southern District of New York) by refusing to revive copyright claims brought by comic book writer and “Ghost Rider” creator Gary Friedrich.  The ruling confirmed that Friedrich had both (a) signed over whatever rights he had in the character in a 1978 agreement with Marvel, and (b) alternatively, had waited too long to sue over those rights and could therefore not dispute them. “Ghost Rider” first appeared as the alter ego of fictional motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze in “Spotlight 5,” a Marvel volume composed by Friedrich. Friedrich maintains that this contractual transfer of what he claims were “initial” rights did not include renewal or future rights for ...
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Pacquiao Wins Round Against Mayweather in District Court

On September 19, 2012, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks ordered Floyd Mayweather to pay $113,518.50 in attorneys’ fees and costs as a result of refusing to show up for a deposition in a suit filed against him by fellow boxer Manny Pacquiao.  The underlying action is one for defamation – alleging that Mayweather told multiple parties, including reporters, that Pacquiao uses performance enhancing drugs. Mayweather insisted that he missed the deposition last fall because he had been too busy training.  However, investigators “obtained photos of Mayweather at various nightclubs across the country showing him dancing, drinking, and spending significant amounts of money.”  The court believed that his failure to appear was a calculated decision, noting “the award of attorneys’ fees in this matter is a sanction against Mayweather’s obviously intentional ...
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