WSJ.COM: “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Dissatisfied Hogan & Hartson Client“:
Have you recently been represented by the law firm of Hogan & Hartson?
Were you expecting that your case would have the representation of a senior partner, but you found that your representation was handled by a less experienced junior member of the firm?
Do you believe this was detrimental to the outcome of your case?
We want to hear from you!
General Steel sued its former law firm Hogan & Hartson alleging breach of contract and other causes. Hogan & Hartson moved to dismiss General Steel’s complaint. During settlement discussions, General Steel threatened to run a ‘shock and awe’ campaign against it. Hogan brought the pending ad campagin to the attention of the court by moving for an extraordinary hearing in regard to its motion to dismiss.
The hearing apparently had no effect on the campaign, which is now running in, among other places, the NY Times. However the motion papers are an interesting discussion of (1) when the content of settlement discussions can be brought to a court’s attention; and (2) the proprietary of a party’s speech during a pending proceeding.
Freecycle Network v. Oey – Defendant stated that Freecycle Network’s FREECYCLE mark was generic. District Court issues an injunction that such claims were a violation of the Lanham Act without doing much of an analysis of any particular provision of the Lanham Act. People like me participated as amici pointing out various problems with the District Court decision. 9th Circuit overrules.
Thorough 43(B)log discussion of the decision here.
Balkinization: Golan v. Gonzales — How The First Amendment Limits Copyright Law
The Tenth Circuit has handed down a very important copyright case, Golan v. Gonzales, which holds that section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act– which implements the Berne Convention on copyrights– may violate the First Amendment because it takes some materials out of the public domain and makes them copyrighted. Relying on language in Eldred v. Reno, the court held that the URAA violated the First Amendment because it altered the “traditional contours of copyright law.” It pointed out that the tradition in the United States has been for works to be created, copyrighted and then revert to the public domain. It also pointed out that traditionally Congress has rarely ever restored copyrights for public domain works, and then only in emergency situations where, for example, war prevented the authors from complying with copyright formalities. The court concluded that neither the idea/expression distinction nor the fair use defense ameliorated the fact that work that was free for anyone to use was now locked up in fresh copyrights. Hence it remanded for further determination of whether the URAA is content neutral or content based in order to apply the appropriate level of scrutiny.
We have reported previously on what I would refer to as the mess regarding the use of politician’s names in domain names. A bad actor can benefit by aprropriating a politician’s name, either by diverting traffic through initial interest confusion, or by simply foreclosing the targeted politician from obtaining desirable names. However a politician tends not to have the rights and remedies accorded to a trademark, and thus cannot use the UDRP and ACPA (with exceptions). Complicating the analysis is the First Amendment issue relating to the use of, for example, JANEDOE.COM to provide critical speech about JANE DOE. Alas, the public doesn’t benefit from the status quo (such as the behavior illustrated here).
What is to be done?
Balkinization on the BongHits 4 Jesus decision:
“Roberts’ opinion creates a new rule allowing schools to ban student advocacy of illegal drug use– but this rule would apparently not extend to student advocacy of changing the drug laws. (Which raises the obvious question: How can we tell whether “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” is advocacy of illegality, political advocacy of drug liberalization, or just a joke?”
There is a brouhaha going on about a docudrama regarding 9/11, that will be aired by ABC (owned by Disney). I guess this ‘logo’ is a pretty good illustration of the fact the law does not protect against all forms of tarnishment. The logo was an illustration to editorial content from the Eschaton blog, discussing ABC’s actions.
Questions for discussion:
Can NBC use the ‘willful deception’ logo to refer to ABC in its advertisements?
Can someone film a movie about the life of Walt Disney entitled ‘Willful Deception’ and use this logo?
WSJ law Blog on band that releases the song “Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued“, orignally titled “My Name Is David Ruffin And These Are The Temptations.”