« Northwestern University Men's Football Team Files For Union Designation From NLRB | Main | Quentin Tarantino Files Copyright Infringement Suit Against Gawker »

Week in Review

By Martha Nimmer


Cronut, the doughnut-croissant hybrid with a cult-following, is now a registered trademark. The brainchild of New York baker Dominique Ansel, the cronut launched in 2013 and quickly became the stuff of culinary legend, leading countless New Yorkers and tourists to line up outside Ansel's West Village bakery, sometimes before dawn, hoping to snap up the sweet confections before they sold out. The cronut was so popular that a black market for the pastry even sprang up on Craigslist and across the city, with some people paying as much as $40 for a single cronut, or sometimes, for a cronut-knockoff. Those knockoffs eventually led Ansel to apply for the cronut trademark in Spring 2013. As of January 14th, cronut is an official, registered trademark.

This is great news for Ansel, but potentially damaging for countless bakeries across the country that continue to refer to their doughnut-croissant creations as "cronuts." Bakers beware.

Read the trademark registration here: http://eater.com/archives/2014/01/15/cronuts-are-officially-trademarked-now.php

Stephen Glass, non-Esq.

Stephen Glass "failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness," the California Supreme Court ruled last week. Glass was "all but banished from the profession of journalism" in 1998 after it was revealed that he "had partly or wholly fabricated dozens of articles for The New Republic and other magazines." Now, it appears that Glass has failed at attaining another career -- that of attorney.

The unanimous, 33 page ruling called into question the disgraced author's motives for wanting to practice law, raising questions about his sincerity and the efficacy of his personal rehabilitation after leaving The New Republic. Further damning was that Glass had "not been forthright in a previous application to the New York bar and had not acknowledged his shortcomings in that effort (he was informally notified in advance that his New York application would be rejected)." Unpersuaded, the court also noted that the writer's rehabilitation efforts "seem to have been directed primarily at advancing his own well-being rather than returning something to the community."

Glass entered the public consciousness for his "larger-than-life features in The New Republic, George and Rolling Stone." That fame came to an end "when an editor at the website Forbes Digital Tool discovered that one of Mr. Glass's articles, about computer hackers, appeared to be invented." The New Republic fired Glass and severed all ties with him, and then turned to "examining his archive of work for more fabrications." According to The New York Times, an investigation at the magazine revealed that many of Glass's articles "were completely made up," while others were partially, sometimes almost entirely, fabricated.

A 2003 film, "Shattered Glass," was made about Glass's fabrications while an author for The New Republic. In 2004, Glass moved to California and began working as a law clerk at a law firm. He passed the California Bar Exam in 2006, "but was found morally unfit to practice law in 2009." After a trial, Glass won an appeal, but, after being asked to reconsider its decision, the California Supreme Court issued this latest ruling.



A California jury has ruled for Courtney Love in a defamation case brought against her by one of her former attorneys. The jury found that a Twitter post made by Love, which suggested that one of Love's attorneys had been "bought off," included false information, but that Love did not know that the information was untrue. Lawyers for the plaintiff, attorney Rhonda Holmes of San Diego, had sought $8 million in damages in the case. Referred to as the "Twibel" case -- a combination of Twitter and libel -- this case is "reportedly the first defamation suit tried in the U.S. over a message posted on Twitter."

Love originally hired Holmes to file a fraud case against the estate of her late husband, Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain. When Holmes failed to pursue the claim, Love took to Twitter and aired her disappointment: "I was f-cking devastated when Rhonda J Holmes Esq of san diego was bought off." Love argued, however, that this statement was never meant to be public; she told the jury that she intended to send the statement as a private, "direct message" (DM), but instead tweeted the statement to her followers, quickly deleting it.

This is not the first time, however, that Love's social media activities have landed her in hot water. According to ABC, in 2011, the singer "agreed to pay $430,000 to fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir over statements [Love] posted on Twitter and Myspace." Simorangkir also sued Love again last year, "alleging the musician libeled her when Love accused Simorangkir of theft on the Howard Stern's radio show and taunted her on the social media site Pinterest." That case is currently pending.



Tarantino Sues Gawker

Famous film director Quentin Tarantino has sued Gawker Media (Gawker) for contributory copyright infringement in California federal court, alleging that Gawker facilitated the "dissemination of copies of his unproduced script, The Hateful Eight." The complaint accuses Gawker of "predatory journalism" and calls out the website for "violating people's rights to make a buck."

The script for The Hateful Eight was leaked by Gawker's Defamer blog after Tarantino, angry that details about the Western flick had leaked to the public, told the media that he would no longer be making the movie as his next project. In response, the Defamer blog published a link to the 146-page script in a post titled, "Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script."

Despite "repeat demands for the removal of the posted URL links" and "submissions of DMCA notices of copyright infringement," Gawker has refused to remove the script from its site. John Cook, editor of Gawker, maintains that Gawker did not leak the script: "[s]omeone unknown to Gawker put [the script] on a web site called AnonFiles, and someone unknown to Gawker put it on a different web site called Scribd. Last Thursday, Gawker received a tip from a reader informing us that the script was on the AnonFiles site, after which Gawker published a story reporting that the script had surfaced online."

This is not the first time that Gawker has found itself on the defense side of a lawsuit. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the website "has sparked lawsuits . . . over sex tapes from Hulk Hogan and Rebecca Gayheart," and also received a cease-and-desist letter from Lena Dunham's attorney after featuring Dunham's book proposal on Gawker.

Tarantino is seeking actual and statutory damages as well as "Gawker's profits in the amount of at least $1 million."



Gimme an L, Gimme an A, Gimme a W, Gimme an S, Gimme a U...

Known only as Lacy. T, a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders filed a class action lawsuit last week in Alameda County Superior Court. The cheerleader, known as a "Raiderette," accuses the NFL team of "underpaying wages, withholding wages for months and forcing cheerleaders to pay expenses the team forces them to incur."

According to the complaint, Lacy T. began working for the Raiders in 2013, but did not receive a paycheck from the team for nine months. When her check finally did arrive, the plaintiff realized that the Raiders had failed to pay her even minimum wage or overtime. According to the complaint, Lacy. T. earned $125 per game, which translates into just $1,250 for an entire season. This figure, according to the Raiderette's attorneys, "amounts to less than $5 an hour for all the work they are required to put in." As noted in the complaint, the cheerleaders' contracts require them "to attend practices, rehearsals, fittings, drills, photo sessions, meetings and workouts. They receive no pay for any of those mandatory assignments, including the Raiderettes swimsuit calendar, which costs $15 on the Raiders website." Raiderettes, according to the suit, "make a total of 300 appearances a year at charity, corporate and community events, and each Raiderette is expected to show up at 10 events."

The complaint goes on to allege a litany of additional labor law violations. For instance, the team failed to provide meal or rest breaks during cheerleaders' eight-hour (or longer) shifts. Additionally, the complaint alleges that if a Raiderette failed to arrive at an appearance at least 15 minutes before the start time, she would be required to make an additional, unpaid "charity appearance." Further noted in the complaint is the cheer squad's practice of publishing "a schedule of fines for the Raiderettes," to be deducted from their compensation. Raiderettes, according to The Los Angeles Times, "can be fined if they forget to bring the right pom poms to practice, if they forget to bring a yoga mat or wear the wrong workout clothing in rehearsals. (Raiderettes have rehearsals two to three times a week. They are compulsory, and, as noted, uncompensated.)" The Raiders, according to Lacy T., also failed to compensate the cheerleaders for mandatory hairstyling and hair coloring performed by a salon selected by the team.

Lacy T.'s lawsuit seeks back wages for herself and "about 100 current and former Raiderettes going back four years." Will Kiss, head of Raiders media relations, said that the team "would have no comment" on the lawsuit.


Read the complaint here: http://www.levyvinick.com/images/SKMBT_60014012209230.pdf

Freedom of Yelping?

Yelp, the popular social media/business reviews website, "must turn over the identities of seven anonymous reviewers of a carpet cleaning business who did not appear to be actual customers," a Virginia appeals court ruled last week. The Virginia Court of Appeals wrote that "[t]he freedom of speech -- and within this, the freedom to speak with anonymity -- is not absolute."

The controversy began in 2012 when the defendant, Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc. (Hadeed), filed suit against the authors of "seven specific critical reviews" of the cleaning business. One reviewer, "Aris P." from Haddonfield, N.J., wrote in his Yelp review that the price of carpet cleaning was "double the quote," and that Hadeed had once filed for bankruptcy. Several other allegedly fake reviews on Yelp claimed "the price was double the quote, or criticized Hadeed's advertising." Hadeed sought to "match the negative reviews with its customer database, but could find no record that the negative reviewers were actually Hadeed customers; consequently, Hadeed "issued a subpoena duces tecum to Yelp, seeking documents revealing information about the authors of each of the challenged reviews." Yelp refused, but was dealt a blow from a Virginia circuit court in November 2012, when the court issued an order enforcing the subpoena duces tecum. Yelp, however, failed to comply, and Hadeed moved to have Yelp held in contempt. The circuit court held Yelp in civil contempt, and levied a fine of $500 against the company, while awarding Hadeed an additional $1,000 in attorney's fees. This appeal eventually found itself before the Virginia Court of Appeals, which ruled in Hadeed's favor.


Read the opinion here: http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opncavwp/0116134.pdf

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 February 4, 2014 11:09 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Northwestern University Men's Football Team Files For Union Designation From NLRB.

The next post in this blog is Quentin Tarantino Files Copyright Infringement Suit Against Gawker.

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