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Week in Review

By Michael B. Smith

Russian Anti-Doping Experts Used Hole In Wall To Purge Urine

Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran the lab that handled drug testing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, claims that he and others, including members of the Russian intelligence service, provided performance-enhancing drugs to Russian athletes while replacing their urine samples with clean samples before testing.


New Federal Trade Secrets Act Promises Certainty, Double Damages

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). The DTSA does not expressly preempt state laws, but provides a federal forum for trade secret claims. The DTSA is largely modeled after the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). The DTSA offers remedies similar to those available under the Lanham Act, including ex parte seizure of property "necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret."

The DTSA rejects the "inevitable disclosure" doctrine, under which employees with knowledge of trade secrets can be enjoined from working for a competitor based on a presumption that secrecy cannot be maintained. Under the DTSA, an employer would have to provide evidence of "threatened misappropriation" in order to obtain injunctive relief.

The DTSA also does not require pre-discovery disclosure of trade secrets, as some states do.


ASCAP Agrees to Pay $1.75 million to Settle Antitrust Charges

On Thursday, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) announced it would pay a $1.75 million fine to resolve a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into claims that the music licensing agency had violated an existing consent decree that prevents ASCAP from entering into exclusive agreements with its members. The DOJ found that ASCAP had entered into approximately 150 exclusive contracts since 2008, "blocking members' ability to license their songs themselves [and] undermin[ing] a critical protection of competition contained in the consent decree." ASCAP did not admit wrongdoing, but agreed that Board members who are publishers would not be involved in licensing talks.


Verizon Settles ESPN Bundle Lawsuit

On Tuesday, ESPN and Verizon settled the lawsuit ESPN filed after Verizon launched its "Custom TV" pricing plan, which did not include ESPN in the base package. ESPN alleged that Verizon's exclusion of ESPN from the bundle violated "existing agreements." The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.


Union of European Football Associations President Resigns

Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), announced his intention to resign after an appellate tribunal confirmed a ban first imposed on Platini in 2015. UEFA banned Platini for eight years after investigating his receipt of 2 million Swiss francs from FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011. After two appeals, the ban was reduced to four years. Platini said he would "pursue [his] battle in front of the Swiss courts to prove [his] innocence...."


Sumner Redstone's Competency Suit Dismissed

On Monday, a Los Angles judge dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit filed by Sumner Redstone's former lover, Manuela Herzer. Herzer sought to have Redstone declared mentally incompetent, and to have herself put back in charge of his care. After hearing Redstone's testimony on the first day of trial, the court found that the proceeding was "not reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the patient, who was "satisfied with the care he is receiving and to be with his family." The court did acknowledge that it was "not in dispute that Redstone suffers from either mild or moderate dementia." On the same day the court dismissed the case, Herzer's lawyer announced that she had filed a new lawsuit against Redstone's daughter, alleging an "insidious two-part plan" to turn Redstone against her.


Farm News Fires Freelance Farmer Friday For Unflattering Funnies

"Farm News," a weekly publication aimed at Iowa farmers, fired freelance cartoonist Rick Friday after his most recent cartoon upset an advertiser. Friday's cartoon depicted one farmer saying to another, "I wish there was more profit in farming," to which the other replies, "There is. In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers." An editor told Mr. Friday that he was being terminated because a seed company had withdrawn its advertising in response to the cartoon.


Court Says Olympic Ban on Sponsor Logos Are Not Anti-competitive

On Thursday, the District of Oregon dismissed a lawsuit brought by Gold Medal LLC (d/b/a Run Gum) against USA Track & Field (USATF) and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), which alleged that rules prohibiting athletes from displaying unapproved sponsors' logos at Olympic events were anti-competitive. The court found that such prohibitions were necessary for USATF and USOC to raise funds, and that "allowing athletes to become human billboards at the Trials" would interfere with that mission.


Minnesota Considers "Prince Act" to Establish Post-Mortem Right of Publicity

Just weeks after the death of musician Prince, Minnesota Representative Joe Hoppe introduced the Personal Rights in Names Can Endure ("PRINCE") Act, which would protect the rights of publicity for 50 years after an individual's death. Prince died intestate.


Nintendo Cements Patent Win

In 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invalidated a patent asserted by Motion Games LLC against the Wii Remote. The patent described cameras and systems to track assembly-line components, and was the subject of patent infringement litigation between Motion Games and Nintendo in the Eastern District of Texas. On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit affirmed the USPTO's decision to invalidate the patent.


Cruz Campaign Sued For Unlicensed Use of Music

Audiosocket, a music licensing and technology company, sued Ted Cruz's defunct presidential campaign in the Western District of Washington for the unauthorized use of two songs licensed by Audiosocket. Audiosocket alleges that the license it granted to the Cruz campaign expressly excluded political advertisements and television broadcasts, but that Cruz used the songs in television ads that also have received tens of thousands of views on YouTube. One of the ads has been pulled from YouTube. The campaign's ad agency reportedly sought (but did not attempt) permission to use the songs after the fact. Audiosocket is seeking over $2 million in damages.


Star Trek Fan Film Copyright Suit Survives Motion to Dismiss

Axanar Productions, which launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to fund a Star Trek "fan film," moved to dismiss a copyright infringement complaint filed by Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios, who own the rights to the Star Trek movies and TV shows, respectively. Axanar argued that the plaintiffs failed to identify protectable elements of the copyrighted works. The Central District of California disagreed, stating that, although each of the elements identified in the complaint was arguably non-protectable, the plaintiffs' claims were based not on those specific elements but on the entire set of copyright works at issue, including novels, television series, and motion pictures. The court further held that the combined elements were numerous enough, and their arrangement original enough, that their combination would constitute an original work of authorship.


Music Advocacy Group Leader Resigns After Demonstrating Why Group Lacks Diversity

Michael A. Butera, executive director of the National Association for Music Education, resigned on Wednesday after telling a room full of people that the association was not diverse because "blacks and Latinos lack the keyboard skills needed for this field."


Pop Warner Eliminates Kickoffs

Youth football organization Pop Warner decided to eliminate kickoffs for players ages five through 10, opting to place the ball at the 35 yard line instead. It also said it would reduce contact time during practices.


Hacker Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement and Identity Theft

Alonzo Knowles, 23, pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing unfilmed movie and TV scripts, social security numbers, passports, and other information from 130 entertainment industry celebrities. Knowles will be sentenced on August 25th.


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