Singer Ed Sheeran & Other UK Defendants Dismissed From Case, For Now, For Failure To Timely Serve

Griffin v. Sheeran et al., No. 16-cv-6309 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 2, 2017) (Doc. 51).

Plaintiff was only able to serve two US-based defendants, notwithstanding the Court's prior order extending the time to complete service on the international defendants, and accordingly the Court dismissed the complaint (without prejudice) against all of the defendants -- including Ed Sheeran -- except for the two US-based Defendants who had been served (Warner Music Group and Atlantic Recording).  There was an additional US-based defendant (Sony ATV) that plaintiff did not even try to serve within Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m)'s 90-day deadline (or the Court-granted extension), and the Court dismissed the case against that defendant.  Nor was any attempt made to serve certain of the UK-based defendants within the 90-day window.  Of the remaining UK-defendants, the Court dismissed the case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f)'s "flexible due diligence" standard.

Beatles Tribute Band Trademark Registration Denied For Entertainment Services Because Specimen Did Not Show Live Performance

In re Titan Music, Inc., Serial No. 77344197 (TTAB Aug. 20, 2014).

Trademark applicant "Titan," a Beatles cover band, filed an application to register the mark FAB AGAIN for “entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performances, namely, musical band, rock group, gymnastic, dance, and ballet performances” in International Class 41.  Registration was denied, and the TTAB affirmed the denial.

The issue with registration was was the specimens provided by the applicant, which were print-outs from CDBaby and Last.fm.  The TTAB found:
Applicant’s specimens may show use of the mark on or in connection with goods (compact discs featuring music) or services (streaming of audio material via a global computer network); however, the specimens do not show use of the mark in connection with “entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performances, namely, musical band, rock group, gymnastic, dance, and ballet performances.” It is not enough for Applicant to be a provider of services; Applicant also must have used the mark to identify the identified services for which registration is sought.  [Cit. om.] As indicated above, for entertainment services such as those rendered by a musical band, the performance must be live. And while a performance can be recorded, the recording is not itself a performance.
This decision should not be read as finding that the mark FAB AGAIN, as actually used on the specimens, would not be perceived by potential purchasers as a trademark (for compact discs featuring music) or a service mark (for streaming of audio material via a global computer network). The problem is that the specimens of record fail to show use of the mark FAB AGAIN in connection with the services identified in the application, that is, “entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performances, namely, musical band, rock group, gymnastic, dance, and ballet performances.”

Foxy Brown - Gotta Serve Somebody

Raymond v. Marchand [p/k/a Foxy Brown], No. 13413/08, 2/2/09 N.Y.L.J. "Decision of Interest" (Sup.Ct., Kings Co. decided Jan. 23, 2009) - ordering a traverse hearing on the issue of service of process.

Hip Hop artist Foxy Brown moved to vacate a default judgment entered against her. The complaint alleged defendant assaulted plaintiff and criminal charges were filed against defendant. Upon appearing in Supreme Court on the criminal charges, plaintiff alleged Foxy Brown was served when she was leaving the courthouse. Foxy Brown denied the allegation, arguing she was never served with legal papers. The court noted the process server's affidavit did not address the manner of service, and that the facts surrounding the service of process as presented by both parties was "so unclear as to raise a question" of the validity of the service. Also, though courts look unfavorably on service of civil process in any part of the courthouse building, it was not unlawful to serve a defendant in a courthouse unless it was done in a manner that caused a disturbance to court proceeding. Where service was allegedly made outside the courthouse, there was no such claim, but ordered a traverse hearing on the issue of service of process.

Vacating DMX Order Where Improper Service

A $1.5mil judgment against DMX was vacated by a Maryland state court judge after finding that the rapper was not properly served process.

His lawyer argued that the defamation-claim plaintiff did not properly serve DMX with the lawsuit papers and was unaware of the case against him.

Any readers from Maryland, please feel free to drop a line on the service requirements under state law. In New York, service of process is governed by CPLR Article 3. For example, for service upon an individual, see CPLR 308. Also, under New York law and objection that the summons and complaint were not properly served is waived if, having raised such objection in a pleading, the objecting party does not moved for judgment on that ground within sixty days after serving the pleading. CPLR 3211(e).

Nail and Mail - The Bronx

Warner Bros. Records Inc. v. Berry, No. 07 Civ. 1092-HB, 4/15/08 N.Y.L.J. "Decision of Interest" (S.D.N.Y. decided Apr. 9, 2008).

The court adopted Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Plaintiff's default judgment application and dismissed the case.

Plaintiff's alleged that Defendant used KaZaA to download, distribute and make available for distribution the copyrighted recordings of certain artists in violation of the Copyright Act. Over a year before filing the complaint, Plaintiffs served AOL (an ISP), which identified Defendant as the person responsible for the IP address that was using KaZaA. AOL provided Plaintiff's with an address for Defendant in the Bronx, NY. Plaintiffs then hired a process server, whose attempts at service were "unsuccessful"; thereafter, the process server affixed one copy on the property in the Bronx. and depositing a copy of the summons in a first class post paid envelope addressed to the same address.

However, the Court found that service on Defendant was defective and therefore dismissed the complaint. "Here, service was defective under the 'nail and mail' method [CPLR 308(4)] because Plaintiffs' process server both affixed and mailed the summons to Defendant's last known residence."

Though the mailing component of service by "affixing and mailing" may be to the defendant's last known residence, "the 'affixing' component must be to the door of the defendant's actual place of business, dwelling place or usual place of abode, and not to the defendant's last known residence. To blur the distinction between 'last known residence' and 'dwelling place' 'would diminish the likelihood that actual notice will be received by potential defendants.'"

However, the Court did not adopt the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that Plaintiffs be ordered to show cause they they did not violate FRCP 11(b). The Court found that "while Plaintiffs' lawyers should be faulted for failing to keep closer tabs on their process server and for failing to better supervise their paralegal, their actions do not rise to the level of a Rule 11(b) violation. Plaintiffs' lawyers might have been sloppy in their attempts to serve Defendant, but giving them as officers of the Court the benefit of the doubt, all their representations to this Court were...nor for the improper purpose of unnecessary delay."