Win for Facebook In Anti-SLAPP Case Involving Country Artist

Cross v. Facebook, Inc., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 691 [Ct App Aug. 9, 2017, Nos. A148623, A149140]

A California Court of Appeals sided with Facebook, granting an anti-SLAPP motion and striking the complaint by Mikel Knight, a Country Rap/Urban Country artist. Knight filed a complaint against Facebook alleging six causes of action arising from a Facebook page inciting violence and death threats against Knight and his team.

As a part of Knight’s label’s marketing efforts, independent contractors were hired to drive vans throughout the country, promoting Knight’s music and merchandise. In 2014, two separate incidents occurred where drivers fell asleep at the wheel and were involved in car accidents, resulting in two deaths and one serious injury. Shortly after the incidents, a Facebook page called “Families Against Mikel Knight” was created by people related to the victims. Numerous individuals posted comments to the page inciting death threats and violence, and members of Knight’s promotion team were verbally threatened and physically assaulted. Knight requested Facebook remove the page after various business deals fell through due to its existence. Facebook refused.

The Court agreed with a special motion filed by Facebook to dismiss all six causes of action as they arose from protected activity and that plaintiffs could not show a probability of prevailing on any of them. The Court of Appeals instructed the trial court to enter an order granting the anti-SLAPP motion and strike the complaint.


Band's Shut-Down Facebook Page Not A "Use In Commerce"; Injunction Vacated

Emerald City Mgmt., LLC v. Kahn, No. 15-40446 (5th Cir. Mar. 8, 2016) [decision].

The Fifth Circuit vacated a preliminary injunction ordering the leader of a band called "Downtown Fever" to transfer control of a Facebook account to the band's manager who had registered the mark "Downtown Fever."  The lower court had issued an injunction barring defendant from using the band name, and the defendant thereafter voluntarily de-activated the band's Facebook page.  Then, the lower court found that the plaintiff should be granted an injunction ordering the defendant to give control of the Facebook page.  However, the appeals court found that was an abuse of discretion because "neither shutting down a Facebook account nor blocking administrator access to a Facebook account constitutes 'use in commerce' of a trademark.  Because the Facebook page was not accessible to anyone, the defendant was not using the trademark.