« Hero Takes a Fall: Armstrong v. Tygart and United States Anti-Doping Agency | Main | Friends Actress Lisa Kudrow's Former Manager Seeks To Reap The Fruits of His Labor »

Weekly Issues in the News

By Geisa Balla

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

A settlement has been reached between Julie Taymor, the former director of the Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," and its producers. Ms. Taymor was fired from the Spider-Man production in March 2011 amid disputes over changes to the show's script and staging. In November Ms. Taymor filed a breach of contract suit against the musical's producers, alleging that they were continuing to profit from her creative contributions to the show without compensating her. The producers filed a countersuit in January saying that she violated the terms of her contract and "could not and would not do the jobs" she was hired to do, and thus was not entitled to further royalties. On Thursday, August 30, 2012, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York issued a notice that the parties had reached an agreement. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.


Dish Network Corp

Fox Broadcasting Company has moved for a preliminary injunction against Dish Network Corp. over Dish's new digital feature that enables consumers to skip commercials. Lawsuits and countersuits were filed in May in the Central District of California between Dish and TV networks CBS Corp, News Corp's Fox, Comcast Corp's NBC Universal and Disney's ABC. The networks are suing over Dish's new DVR feature "AutoHop," which allows customers to press one button to automatically skip commercials. While this feature would please viewers, it would undermine advertisers, the networks' main source of revenue. Fox moved for preliminary injunction on August 22nd against Dish, claiming that it was likely to suffer irreparable harm while the companies litigate further. In addition, Fox claims that Dish's "PrimeTime Anytime" feature, a service that records all of the prime-time TV programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox with one click and then keeps them saved for up to eight days, violates Dish's contract related to accessing video programming on demand. A Dish Network spokesman said in an email on Sunday: "DISH believes consumers have the right to control their television-viewing experience. We're disappointed at Fox's continued fight against that right."


Victoria's Secret

Zephyrs, a New Jersey based hosiery supplier, filed a lawsuit against Victoria's Secret Stores Inc. and its parent company Limited Brands Inc., for breach of a 2001 agreement and deliberately selling cheaper "knockoffs" to customers. The complaint alleges that Victoria's Secret is misleading customers by selling less expensive legwear while deliberately using images of Zephyrs-designed legwear on packaging and in-store displays. Zephyrs is the former hosiery supplier for Victoria's Secret. Joseph Gioconda, counsel for Zephyrs, stated "Victoria's Secret changed the product in the packaging but didn't change anything else except Made in Canada on the back of the package. It used to say Made in Italy." Gioconda said Victoria's Secret has sold "at least $120 million worth of Zephyrs-designed product throughout all 50 states, through the Victoria's Secret chain of retail stores, the Victoria's Secret print catalogue and the popular Victoria's Secret Web site" since 2001. The suit seeks $15 million in damages, as well as corrective advertising and a recall of the allegedly knockoff products.


Macy's v. J.C. Penney

Macy's filed a lawsuit against J.C. Penney on August 16th, claiming that J.C. Penney is interfering with its contract with Martha Stewart. Macy's had filed a prior lawsuit against Martha Stewart Living, claiming that it had exclusive rights to sell certain Martha Stewart products, including soft furnishings, dinnerware and cookware, in attempt to block the sale of Martha Stewart products at J.C. Penney. In July 2012, Macy's won a preliminary injunction against Martha Stewart, temporarily blocking plans by Martha Stewart Living to sell certain branded products at J.C. Penney stores. Macy's new lawsuit against J.C. Penney seeks to stop J.C. Penney from taking any actions that would violate Macy's agreement with Martha Stewart, and to stop J. C. Penney from using product designs that Macy's argued were illegally obtained from Martha Stewart. In the lawsuit, Macy's contends that the agreement with Martha Stewart includes language that says that monetary damages will not be able to remedy any breach of the contract. "The fact that J. C. Penney is a less upscale retailer compared to Macy's compounds the injury," the lawsuit said. Martha Stewart has countered that the items to be sold at J. C. Penney do not fall under the exclusive categories granted to Macy's.

Macy's also moved for preliminary injunction against J.C. Penney, seeking to block J.C. Penney from proceeding with plans to sell a number of Martha Stewart Home good products in its stores. On August 30th, the court denied the injunction. The court was unconvinced that Macy's had shown a likelihood of success on its claim against J.C. Penney. Recognizing that in July the court issued an injunction against Martha Stewart, the court stated "It's one thing to enjoin [Martha Stewart] because that company is the centerpiece of these actions," he said. "It's another thing to enjoin a retail company from doing business. We live in a free-market society."


Marilyn Monroe

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California upheld the right of a Marilyn Monroe photo library to license images of the film star taken by a celebrity photographer who was one of her business partners. Milton H. Greene Archives Inc. has been in a long-running court battle with Anna Strasberg, widow of Monroe's acting coach, Lee Strasberg, and her licensing agent CMG Worldwide, which have controlled use of Monroe's image for years. Green was a fashion photographer who became friends with Monroe, and the two formed a production company. The legal battle over Greene's images hinged on where Monroe was living at the time of her death on August 5, 1962. In a decision on August 30th, a lower court decision was upheld that allowed Greene Archives to license its images of Monroe. The court ruled that Monroe resided in New York and therefore she did not have the posthumous right of publicity based on the state's law. "Because no such right exists under New York law, Monroe LLC did not inherit it ... and cannot enforce it against Milton Greene or others similarly situated," Judge Kim McClane Wardlaw wrote for the court.


Kim Kardashian v. Old Navy

Old Navy and Kim Kardashian have settled a lawsuit filed by Kardashian in 2011, which had alleged that an Old Navy television commercial violated her publicity right by using look-alike model Melissa Molinaro. "The lawsuit was resolved to mutual satisfaction of both parties, but beyond that it's the only statement we have," said Kardashian's attorney Gary Hecker. The settlement details were not released.


Geisa Balla is an attorney practicing in New York, NY. She can be reached at geisa.balla@gmail.com.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 31, 2012 9:48 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Hero Takes a Fall: Armstrong v. Tygart and United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The next post in this blog is Friends Actress Lisa Kudrow's Former Manager Seeks To Reap The Fruits of His Labor.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.