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Weekly Issues in the News

By Geisa Balla


The Justice Department has warned six of the biggest U.S. publishers that it plans to file an antitrust lawsuit against them for colluding to raise the price of electronic books. The publishers facing this potential suit are Apple Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc., Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and Harper Collins Publishers Inc. The parties have reportedly held settlement talks to avoid litigation. The potential lawsuit stems from Apple's move to change how publishers charge for e-books. Traditionally, under the "wholesale model," publishers sold books to retailers for half of the recommended cover price, and retailers could then price the books for less than the cover price if they wished to do so. When Apple launched its first iPad in 2010, Steve Jobs suggested moving to an "agency model," under which the publishers would set the price of the book and Apple would take a 30% cut. "We told the publishers, 'We'll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway,'" Mr. Jobs was quoted as saying by his biographer, Walter Isaacson. The Justice Department now believes that Apple acted in concert with other publishers to raise book prices across the industry, in violation of federal antitrust laws.


Alexander Wang Lawsuit

A $50 million lawsuit was filed on March 6, 2012, against designer Alexander Wang in Queens Supreme Court, alleging wage and hour violations. The lawsuit was filed by Wenyu Lu, a 56 year-old former employee of Wang, who accuses Wang of running a sweatshop in Chinatown. The lawsuit alleges that workers were forced to work 16 hours a day or longer, without overtime. Lu claims to have been hospitalized because he was forced to work 25 hours without a break, under the threat of being fired. Wang has yet to be served with the lawsuit, but a spokesperson released the following statement to Women's Wear Daily: "The company takes its obligations to comply with the law very seriously, including the relevant wage and hour regulations, the payment of overtime to eligible employees and having a safe working environment for all of our employees. We will vehemently defend any allegations to the contrary."

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton threatened the University of Pennsylvania Law School with trademark infringement lawsuit after a student group parodied the LV monogram on a poster for a fashion law symposium. Luis Vuitton sent a cease and desist letter to the school, stating "This egregious action is not only a serious willful infringement and knowingly dilutes the LV Trademarks, but also may mislead others into thinking this type of unlawful activity is somehow 'legal' or constitutes 'fair use' because the Penn Intellectual Property Group is sponsoring a seminar on fashion law and 'must be experts'. . . I would have thought the Penn Intellectual Property Group, and its faculty advisors, would understand the basics of intellectual property law." In a reply the school's general counsel denied that the poster infringes on LV's trademarks, describing the laws that establish the public right to parody, especially for educational purposes. He also invited LV's attorney to attend the symposium to learn more about intellectual property.

Elite Model Management

The 2008 winner of the TV show "Holland's Next Top Model" won her lawsuit against Elite Model Management in the Amsterdam District court on March 7, 2012. As a winner of the TV show competition, Ananda Marchildon won a three-year contract with Elite, worth about $98,500. Yet she was dismissed from Elite after $13,000 worth of work because she did not lose enough weight. Specifically, Elite asked Marchildon to lose nine centimeters off her hip measurements, from 98 to centimeters to 90. An e-mail from an Elite representative to Marchildon read: "We agreed that you would come by us every two weeks for an evaluation, how it's going with your diet and exercise and losing weight. We're going to keep measuring you." The court awarded Marhcildon $85,000 in damages, plus interest and legal fees.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 9, 2012 10:03 AM.

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