MillersCoors Requests Injunction, Removal of Bud Light “Corn Syrup” Ads

On March 28, 2019, MillerCoors submitted a brief in support of its motion for a preliminary injunction against Anheuser-Busch, requesting Anheuser-Busch be stopped from airing Bud Light commercials that focus on the inclusion of corn syrup in Miller Lite and Coors Light. Per the request, MillerCoors implores that these ads have caused irreparable harm to the company’s image – an image that has taken “generations” to build. Per the lawsuit, while although MillerCoors admits the use of corn syrup in its products, an important caveat…
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Texas A&M Wants out of the “12th Man” Copyright Suit

On March 15, 2019, Texas A&M University urged U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen that the Texas A&M Athletic Department is not a separate entity and therefore is entitled to immunity in the Texas A&M “12th Man” copyright suit. As we have continued to report, in 2014, Michael J. Bynum, an author, sued Texas A&M after it posted on its website the “heart” of Mr. Bynum unpublished book, 12th Man: The Life and Legend of Texas A&M’s E. King Gill. According to…
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Potential New Tax Law Would Allow NCAA Athletes to Profit From Their Image

On March 14, 2019, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) introduced a bill that would allow NCAA athletes to profit from their image and likeness. The Student-Athlete Equity Act, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), would amend the definition of an “amateur” in the federal tax code and would allow NCAA student-athletes to get paid when they, or more specifically their image, appears in video games, advertisements, and other public media. In a statement, Rep. Walker said, “Signing an athletic scholarship with a school…
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“Hard Rock” Hamilton Says Microsoft Can’t Leave Gears of War Lawsuit

On March 2, 2019, Lenwood “Hard Rock” Hamilton filed a motion in opposition to Microsoft’s summary judgment motion in video game lawsuit. As we have previously covered, Hamilton sued Microsoft Studios Inc. and Epic Games Inc. claiming that a character/avatar in the popular video game Gears of War, Augustus “Cole Train” Cole, was based on, and copied, Hamilton. According to Hamilton, “[t]he similarities of the avatar ‘Cole Train’ and [Hamilton] include that both are black (and ‘Cole Train’ is the only black avatar…
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SCOTUS Settles Circuit Split, Rules Copyright Owners Must Register Prior to Bringing Infringement Lawsuits

On Monday, March 4, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that a work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright office prior to the copyright owner bringing an infringement lawsuit. While registration is not required for valid copyright ownership, Section 411(a) provides that a work must be registered prior to bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit. Notably, even if the application is ultimately refused and the registration is denied, the applicant still may bring a civil action. Previously, the circuit courts had been split on what…
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“Hard Rock” Hamilton Can’t add Claim in Video Game Suit

On January 10, 2019, former former football player, professional wrestler, and motivational speaker, Lenwood “Hard Rock” Hamilton, was allowed to drop, but not add, allegations in his suit against Microsoft Studios Inc. and Epic Games Inc. Back in 2005, Hamilton claimed that he provided photos and voice recordings for a character who would later become Augustus “Cole Train” Cole in the video game Gears of War. In 2017, in a lawsuit against Microsoft Studios Inc., Hamilton claimed that the character, voiced by actor Lester…
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Nirvana Says Stay Away, Demands All Apologies in Lawsuit Against Marc Jacobs

On December 28, 2018, Nirvana LLC brought suit against Marc Jacobs International, claiming copyright and trademark infringement. Nirvana LLC was formed back in 1997 by Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and the Cobain Estate controlled by Courtney Love. Per the complaint, Nirvana argues that the Jacobs fashion brand has taken advantage of its image in misleading customers to believe Nirvana has endorsed or is otherwise associated with Jacobs’ “Bootleg Redux Grunge” collection. In particular, Jacobs has allegedly re-purposed the infamous “Smiley Face” logo created by Kurt…
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Dance Like Somebody’s Watching: Alfonso Ribeiro of “Fresh Prince” Fame Sues “Fortnite” Creators Over Use of “Carlton Dance”

On December 17, 2018, Alfonso Ribeiro brought a copyright infringement lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit against Epic Games, the creators of immensely popular “Fortnite” video game.  Ribeiro is most famously known for his role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” where he portrayed Carlton Banks.  In the series, Ribeiro created a “Carlton Dance” that remains widely known, and the suit alleges Epic Games used this choreography without permission. An important note found in the complaint is that Ribeiro is currently in the process of registering…
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Trademark Showdown at Home Plate: Atlanta Braves at Bat against Local Taxi Company

On November 1, 2018, the Atlanta Braves commenced an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against a local Marietta taxi company and its owner for trademark infringement. The complaint filed by the Atlanta Braves asserts Federal and State causes of action against Braves Taxi sounding in Trademark Infringement, Trademark Dilution, Unfair Competition, and Cyberpiracy. In short, the Atlanta Braves claim that Braves Taxi is using identical and confusingly similar marks to those of the MLB team on its vehicles.…
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Draftkings and Fanduel: “No Doubt” Right of Publicity Lawsuit Should be Dismissed

As we have previously reported, former NCAA football players, Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily, and Nicholas Stoner recently filed a lawsuit against Draftkings, Inc. and Fanduel, Inc. In their lawsuit, the former NCAA players allege that Draftkings and Fanduel violated an Indiana state right-of-publicity statute when they used the former players names, images, likenesses, and statistics in online fantasy sports contests. After the case was dismissed in United States District Court, it was appealed to the Seventh Circuit. A Seventh Circuit appellate panel certified the…
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