Bob Marley Heirs Succeed On Appeal In Merchandising Case

Fifty-Six Hope Road Music v. A.V.E.L.A., No 12-17502 (9th Cir. Feb. 20, 2015).

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of Bob Marley's heirs based on defendants' use of Bob Marley's image on t-shirts and other merchandise in a manner likely to cause confusion as to Plaintiffs' sponsorship of approval of the merchandise.  Additionally, the Court found that Defendants have waived several defenses by failing to properly raise them in the district court.  The appellate court also found that the lower court had not abused its discretion in determining defendant's profits and there was a sufficient evidence to find that defendants willfully infringed plaintiff's rights.  Nor did the lower court err in awarding plaintiffs their attorney's fees, as plaintiffs were the prevailing parties, and defendants' conduct was willful.  Plaintiffs also succeeded on their tortious interference claims because Plaintiffs' licensing agent testified that one of Plaintiffs' licensees lost an order intended for Wal-Mart because defendant sold t-shirts there. Defendants did succeed, however, in dismissing the right of publicity claim because under Nevada law a publicity right successor waives its publicity rights when it fails to timely register its rights.

Rick Ross Name Claim Time Barred

Ross v. William Leonard Roberts II, No. BC450511 (Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles).

It is reported that a lawsuit accusing rapper Rick Ross, his label and others of misappropriating the name and identity of former drug kingpin "Freeway" Ricky Ross, has been dismissed based on an expired statute of limitations. The Judge ruled that the former drug trafficker's claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations under California's single publication rule and the doctrine of laches. Per the Court, the rapper's first hit single received significant radio play beginning in 2005 and alerted plaintiff, who was in prison at the time, that his name was being used commercially.

Vegas Singer Enjoined From Using "Platters" Name

Herb Reed Enterprises, Inc. v. Monroe Powell's Platters, LLC, No. 2:11-cv-02010 (D. Nev. filed Feb. 1, 2012)[Doc. 26].

The Court entered a preliminary injunction enjoining a Las Vegas singer from using the name of 1950s vocal group The Platters. The decision traced the long-history of litigation between members of the band and their use of the band name, and then underwent the preliminary injunction standard for trademark infringement. Plaintiff showed a likelihood of success on its ownership in the mark, and that it acquired rights to the mark through prior use. Additionally, plaintiff established a likelihood of success on its claim that “The Platters featuring
Monroe Powell” is confusingly similar to “The Platters.”

Sugar Hill Gang Suit

Dispute concerning certain artist, copyright and trademark agreements regarding plaintiff's names, likenesses and musical compositions

Michael Wright pka Wonder Mike; Guy O'Brien pka Master G, collectively pka The Sugarhill Gang v. Joseph Robinson, Jr.; Sugar Hill Music Publishing Ltd.; Gambi Music Inc.; Diamond Head Music Inc. dba Twenty Nine Black Music; Sylvia Robinson; Sylvia Inc., No. 08 CV-9830 (S.D.N.Y. complaint filed 11/13/2008 ).

Aerosmith Singer Sues Bloggers

More blogger news this week:

Article --

Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler sued unknown bloggers who allegedly impersonated him on the internet, writing about "intimate details" of his life. The suit accuses the bloggers of public disclosure of private facts, making false statements and misappropriation of likeness. It also seeks an injunction to have the defendants stop impersonating him online or elsewhere.

The End

permission to perform the The New York Times reports (8/23/08; B8 "Arts, Briefly") that the California Supreme Court decline to grant certiorari to a case involving the three surviving members of the Doors. The case concerns use of the band's name and trademark by the keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger while touring as a legacy act. Drummer Jon Densmore gave Manzarek and KriegerDoors' songs in 2002, but apparently limited their right to call themselves the Doors and from using the group's logo or other imagery.

Beatles Complaint Available

The complaint in Apple Corp v. Fuego Entertainment is available online. [Request a copy.]

Of particular interest is the FACTS section, which serves as a supplement to the vast library of Beatles history, and their early days at the Star Club in Germany.

Legal Counts:

  • Unauthorized Fixation and Trafficking in Sound Recordings (Injunctive Relief / Damages)

  • Common Law Copyright Infringement (Pre-72 Recordings) (Injunctive Relief / Damages)

  • Trademark Infringement (Injunctive Relief / Damages)

  • Federal Unfair Competition (Injunctive Relief / Damages)

  • Common Law Unfair Competition and Trademark Infringement (Injunctive Relief / Damages)

  • Federal Dilution (Injunctive Relief / Damages)

  • Dilution and Injury to Business Reputation (Injunctive Relief)

  • Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likeness (Injunctive Relief / Damages)
[Apple Corps Limited v. Fuego Entertainment, Inc. et al., No. 1:08-cv-20748-WMH (S.D.Fla. filed Mar. 21, 2008)]

All The Birds Will Be Singin'

Willie Nelson, "flipping the bird" (i.e., giving his middle finger) in a photograph, is the center of a copyright infringement suit filed in Sacramento. Spencer's Gifts, of shopping-mall fame, has been selling T-Shirts at its physical outlets and online that have a copyrighted image of Nelson imposed thereon. (Article at MSNBC).

Does W. Nelson have any claims of his own? Privacy, name and likeness etc?