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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

Federal Appellate Brief Word Limit Shrinking

In 1998, Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure was amended to include a 14,000-word count limit. That number was arrived at based on a desire for briefs to be no longer than 50 pages and an estimate that a page printed using a proportionally-spaced font had an average of 280 words. The Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules has since determined that a more accurate conversion would be 250 words per page, and the amendments to the Rules scheduled to take effect on December 1st will reduce the word count limit accordingly to 13,000 (and 6,500 for replies, down from 7,000). This rule change has been the subject of some controversy, as prominent lawyers, including Chief Justice Roberts, have argued against the reduction. Others, including Circuit Court judges, support the amendment.


U.S. Supreme Court Tells Redskins to Wait Its Turn

Two cases involving offensive trademarks have been vying for the Supreme Court's attention. One involves an Oregon band called "The Slants." The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied the band's application for registration of the name under section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which permits the USPTO to refuse registration of trademarks that are "disparag[ing]." The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that such refusal violated the First Amendment, and the USPTO petitioned for a writ of certiorari.

The second case involves the Washington Redskins. The Eastern District of Virginia upheld the USPTO's cancellation of six of the team's trademark registrations as disparaging, and the team appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Although the Fourth Circuit will not hear argument on that appeal until December, the Redskins made an unusual request: that the Supreme Court hear the Redskins' appeal concurrently with the The Slants case. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in the The Slants case in September, but rejected the Redskins' application on Monday.


Supreme Court Won't Review Challenge to NCAA Amateurism Rules

On Monday, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case of O'Bannon v. NCAA, leaving undisturbed a decision by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that left both sides feeling ambivalent. The Ninth Circuit found that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) could limit compensation of college athletes to the cost of attending an institution, but that limiting it further would violate federal antitrust laws. Two more challenges to the NCAA's amateurism rules are waiting in the wings, and there has been increased public scrutiny of compensation for college athletes.


Facing $38 Million Judgment, Cox Goes After $100K

Last year, a jury awarded music publisher BMG Rights Management (BMG) $25 million in a lawsuit that accused internet service provider Cox Communications of willfully contributing to illegal file sharing by employing intentionally lax anti-piracy standards and procedures. Cox appealed the ruling, but in the meantime, BMG is seeking over $13 million in costs and attorneys' fees. For its own part, Cox is going after Round Hill Music--a plaintiff dismissed from the case after the court found that it did not own any of the copyrights at issue--for $100,000 in attorneys' fees.



No Snow Under Golden Arches, Says Suit

The estate of celebrated "street artist" Dash Snow, who died in 2009 at the age of 27, has sued McDonald's in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for copying Snow's work without authorization. The estate alleges that hundreds of McDonald's restaurants decorated with fake graffiti incorporate Snow's famous "SACE" graffiti tag ("SACE" was Snow's pseudonym). The complaint alleges that "[n]othing is more antithetical to Mr. Snow's outsider 'street cred' than association with corporate consumerism--of which McDonald's and its marketing are the epitome."


Fourth "Blue Man" Royalties Suit Survives Dismissal, Without Fraud Claim

On Thursday, Judge Barry Ostrager of the New York County Supreme Court denied in part a motion to dismiss claims asserted by Ian Pai, who says he has not been adequately compensated for his "substantial contributions" to the billion-dollar performance ensemble, "Blue Man Group." Pai asserted breach of contract claims based on alleged oral agreements, which Judge Ostrager found were sufficiently pleaded, and a claim for fraud, which the judge found was time-barred.


CS:GO Class Action Dismissed

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Seattle dismissed a class action lawsuit filed against video game giant Valve Corporation and third party gambling site CSGO Lotto, alleging that the defendants created an illegal online gambling market based around Valve's online video game, "Counter Strike: Global Offensive" (CS:GO) The complaint alleged that players purchased CS:GO "skins" on Valve's online "Steam" marketplace, which players could then pledge on CSGO Lotto's "rigged" gambling site for the chance to win cash. The court found that plaintiffs had failed to plead facts sufficient to demonstrate that the system was "rigged," or that any member of the proposed class suffered any actual injury.


Hasbro Settles Harris's Hamster Suit

Hasbro Inc. reportedly settled Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner's $5 million lawsuit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The lawsuit alleged that Hasbro was selling a "Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll" without her permission. Faulkner called the toy "insulting and demeaning."


New York Fantasy Sports Law Faces Constitutional Challenge

Plaintiffs affiliated with a group called "Stop Predatory Gambling" filed a lawsuit challenging New York's new law legalizing daily fantasy sports, claiming that the law violates section 9.1 of the State Constitution, which places strict limits on gambling.


Rose Accuser Testifies in Rape Case

The woman who has accused New York Knicks player Derrick Rose and two others of gang rape testified on Thursday in the trial of her $21.5 million civil case against Rose. The woman testified that she felt she had been drugged at a party at Rose's mansion, and that after she got home and passed out, Rose and the other two men came to her apartment and raped her. During a break, attorneys for the two other men asked the judge to order the witness not to cry.


Baylor University's Title IX Coordinator Claims Retaliation

Patty Crawford, Baylor University's Title IX coordinator, and the person in charge of implementing the school's response to allegations of sexual assault, filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education. Crawford claims that after the publication of a report criticizing Baylor's handling of sexual assault allegations, Baylor officials tried to prevent her from reporting violations, limited her department's funding, and delayed cooperating with her investigations.


Former Raiders QB Faces Charges After Naked Break-in

Tod Marinovich, a former quarterback for the University of Southern California and the (then) Los Angeles Raiders, was charged with trespassing, public nudity, and drug possession. Marinovich was found in the backyard of a home in Orange County, California, naked and trying to get rid of methamphetamine and marijuana.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 7, 2016 2:34 PM.

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