Oscar contender ‘Shape of Water’ accused of ripping off 1969 play
Days before winning the Best Picture Oscar, “The Shape Of Water” was hit with a plagiarism lawsuit. David Zindel filed the suit claiming the Oscar-winning film’s plot was taken from his father Paul Zindel’s 1969 play “Let Me Hear You Whisper”. Fox Searchlight, the studio behind the film, claims that the suit is “baseless and wholly without merit.” Read more.
A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing
On a Hamptons sidewalk, guy with a cell phone, Justin Goldman, sees New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Celtics general manager Danny Ainge talking. Justin takes a picture and posts it to his Snapchat story. Someone else uploads Justin’s picture to Reddit where it goes viral and winds up on Twitter, among other social media platforms. Publishers, including Breitbart, Time, Vox, and Yahoo, embedded the tweets in articles about the Brady/Ainge sighting, and Justin sued for copyright infringement. Distinguishing legal precedent going back 10 years, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found for Justin. She ruled “when defendants caused the embedded Tweets to appear on their websites, their actions violated plaintiff’s exclusive display right.” It’s likely that had the publishers included links to Justin’s photo rather than embedding the actual image in their articles, they would have been safe. (Remember Playboy’s case against BoingBoing? That case was recently dismissed.) Read more.
You Probably Purchased Used Beauty Products Posing as New from Ulta, Per New Lawsuit
Current and former Ulta employees took to Twitter to reveal a disturbing company secret—used and returned products were cleaned up, re-shelved, and sold as new. One tweet, “They would resell EVERYTHING. (makeup, hair care, skincare, fragrance, hair tools, etc.” was retweeted and corroborated thousands of times. Shopper Kimberly Laura Smith Brown, using information gleaned in part from Ulta’s social media exposure, sued Ulta in what could become a huge class action suit. Ulta insists that its customers’ health and safety is top priority, denies the allegations, and promises a vigorous defense. Read more.
For Breastfeeding Moms, A Difficult Choice: Work Or Pump?
New moms and their employers often face a challenge: making arrangements for moms to pump breast milk at work. Legal protections for breastfeeding mothers exist at the federal and state levels. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires businesses that employ more than 50 people to provide new mothers with “reasonable,” unpaid breaks to pump breast milk in private spaces—not bathrooms. Wisconsin specifically allows breastfeeding “in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be.” Wis. Stat. § 253.165. But, the obstacles to pumping at work—time-consuming, boring, inconvenient, and only somewhat effective—cause well-intentioned moms to give up nursing long before their babies’ first birthdays. Read more.
Fonts, Colors, Layouts Impact Whether Consumers Will Buy from Your Website
Business owners spend big money on their websites. The good news is legal protections for the design and look of those websites may be legally protected, likely in multiple ways: copyright (for original works that are fixed in a tangible form); trademark (for logos and word marks); and trade dress (for a website’s “look and feel” if consumers connect the design and the company). Word to the wise, intellectual property registration includes nit-picky requirements. For example, the U.S. Copyright Office released an article about copyright protections and websites and included essential dos (do identify authors and owners of copyrighted work) and don’ts (don’t list “website” as the type of authorship on copyright application). For some businesses, working with an attorney to draft a creative intellectual property plan that ties in multiple layers of protection may be worthwhile. Read more.
Women would lose $4.6 billion in earned tips if the administration’s ‘tip stealing’ rule is finalized
Something to think about the next time you leave a tip: the Department of Labor proposed a rule letting business owners pocket employees’ tips. This would mean a $4.6 billion loss for working women who rely on tips to compensate for lower wages. Hopefully business owners would raise employee wages, but spoiler alert: that’s not guaranteed. Read more.
This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work.
Is sexual harassment in the workplace more about sex or work? We hope that speaking out against sexual harassment is the beginning of a pivotal trend. But what’s really at the root of every #MeToo story? Gender inequality in the workplace. We simply can’t ignore gender inequality in every industry from Hollywood to Madison Avenue to Main Street. Read more.
Harley-Davidson doesn’t want brand confused with Affliction products
Imitation might be the highest form of flattery but Harley Davidson thinks otherwise. The motorcycle giant wants t-shirt company Affliction to stop selling shirts resembling their iconic bar and shield logo. Harley Davidson sent a cease-and-desist letter but Affliction kept selling the shirts, prompting the motorcycle giant to sue. Read more.
Seventh Circuit: Chicago’s Public Nudity Ordinance Intact Despite Challenge
If Chicago winters won’t keep visitors covered, the city’s anti-nudity ordinance just might. When Sonoko Tagami got a ticket for baring her painted breasts on “Go Topless Day,” she challenged Chicago’s public nudity ordinance. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld 2-1 the city’s right to ban public nudity (including no exposure of “any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola of any female person”), deciding that public nudity is conduct, not speech. The Court rejected Sagami’s equal protection argument, too because although the anti-nudity ordinance affected men and women differently (e.g., men are free to be topless), the reason is based in physiology. Sadly, that means no topless selfie by the Bean or sunbathing on the shore of Lake Michigan—unless you’re a man. Read more.
The Republican tax bill’s small-business problem — most won’t benefit from the special new rate
The architects of the latest tax plan claim that small businesses will benefit, but experts question whether there are real tax savings. Most small business owners set up pass through entities meaning the owners pay taxes, but the businesses themselves don’t. The vast majority of small business owners already pay taxes at 25%, the new maximum rate proposed for small-business income under the proposed tax bill. Plus, if you’re a personal service provider (e.g., lawyer, engineer doctor, consultant), you won’t qualify for the 25% anyway. Read more.
Court of Appeals of Wisconsin Published Opinion
Opening a P.O.D, payment on death, bank account and designating a beneficiary is a simple way to transfer assets upon death without probate. You keep control over the funds and can change beneficiaries anytime. But, switching the beneficiary requires a trip to the bank. One account owner tried a shortcut, writing a note to his friend, making him the new beneficiary of his U.S. Bank P.O.D account. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals said no: the written instructions on file with the bank control the account. Read more.
Is it Legal to Link? Playboy is Taking BoingBoing to Court Over it
If you link to sites that include copyrighted material owned by someone else, watch out. Playboy recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against popular website BoingBoing over their post “Every Playboy Playmate Centerfold Ever.” BoingBoing didn’t actually post the 746 centerfold images, they simply linked to other sites. How this point factors into the outcome of the case remains to be seen. Read more.
She flipped off President Trump — and got fired from her government contracting job
Can you say “Double Standard?” Juli Briskman can. She’s the unidentifiable cyclist who flipped off 45’s motorcade and subsequently got fired for violating her employer’s social-media policy. Months earlier, Briskman reported a male executive who made obscene remarks on social media, but he kept his job. Briskman contacted the ACLU and is considering filing a lawsuit. Read more.
Forever 21 Sues Trademark “Bully” Adidas, Says “Enough is Enough”
Forever 21 effectively said, “Adidas, you don’t own stripes,” when the clothing company took on the athletic wear giant in a logo battle. Adidas registered three parallel stripes in specific locations on certain clothing and shoes as protected trade dress and vigorously protects its rights to stripes. Forever 21 asked a judge for permission to use stripes on sports bras and t-shirts claiming the stripes are decorative and don’t infringe on Adidas’s three stripe logo. Read more.
Why Aren’t Paychecks Growing? A Burger-Joint Clause Offers a Clue
The term “lazy American” is a misnomer. Americans are working. In fact, we’re living with record low unemployment numbers. But for some fast food workers, raises and promotions aren’t coming their way. A little known legal clause restricting fast food workers’ freedom to change jobs might be a contributing factor. Read more.
Deere wins trademark lawsuit over its iconic green, yellow color combination
A Kentucky judge gave John Deere the green light to claim exclusive use of its iconic combination of yellow and green. In a recent trademark case, the leading farm equipment manufacturer won the exclusive right after another agricultural equipment manufacturer painted their sprayers Deere’s signature colors. The judge said the competitor’s use of the color combination would cause consumer confusion and permanently banned it from using the protected color combination—although, the competitor could paint its equipment all green or all yellow. Read more.
Judge Puts Lions Gate’s Trademark Suit in a Corner
Dirty Dancing fans have one less thing to worry about. You can say “Nobody puts baby in the corner” even in a commercial, without fear of a lawsuit. A California judge ruled TD Ameritrade can continue to air a commercial that parodies the famous line, “Nobody puts your old 401(k) in the corner.” Read more.
H&M Files Suit Against Wildfox, Claiming that its Own “Wildfox” Sweatshirt Isn’t Confusing
“You’re not suing me, I’m suing you!” said fashion retail giant H & M to small clothing company, Wildfox Couture. After H & M began selling sweatshirts bearing a fictitious team logo, “Toronto Wildfox,” Wildfox Couture sent H & M a letter threatening legal action for trademark infringement. So, H & M launched a preemptive strike in the form of a lawsuit. Look at the sweatshirt, is “Wildfox” on H&M’s sweatshirt decorative or does it indicate that H&M and Widlfox Couture collaborated in the design? Read more.
Supreme Court Denies Louis Vuitton’s Appeal Over “Parody” Tote Bags
Underdog wins the battle of the bags. Louis Vuitton sued bag maker, MOB (My Other Bag) accusing MOB of trademark infringement and diluting LV’s brand. MOB’s canvas bags feature LV’s logo but “My Other Bag” is printed on the reverse side. The U.S. Supreme Court held up MOB’s right to continue to produce the “parody bags.” Read more.
Digging Deeper: Adoption in Wisconsin
A Wisconsin lawmaker wants to make the in-state adoption process a lot easier on the birth-mother. Read more.
A Travel Ban’s Foe: A Young Firebrand and Her Pro Bono Brigade
The founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project works in her socks, curses like a sailor, and loves a good lawsuit. Read more.
What’s Inside A ‘Derby Pie’? Maybe A Lawsuit Waiting To Happen
Don’t serve “Derby-Pie” unless you are ready to fight a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by a determined family. Read more.
How this mom turned $775 into a $65 million company in only 5 years
The Cambridge Satchel Company startup kit: an intuitive woman, her mom, a free online course, a couple of cereal boxes, and a whole lot of grit. Read more.
Robots on wheels may soon deliver takeout to Madison humans
The passage of the “R2-D2 bill” could legalize and regulate the use of personal delivery drivers, or PDDs. You may have to yield to robots the next time you’re in Madison. Read more.
Irish butter dispute takes new turn with Kerrygold lawsuit
Is Irishgold’s butter substantially similar to Kerrygold’s butter? You decide–before the U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin does. Read more.
In Wisconsin, selling cookies can land you in jail
Home bakers can’t legally sell their treats in just two states, including Wisconsin. They lobbied and are now challenging the half-baked law in court. (It’s worth a read just for the recipes, Lavender Lemon Sunshine Shortbreads and Winter Squash Spice Muffins.) Read more.
Women’s rights country by country – interactive
Interactive diagram breaking down laws affecting women’s rights (including domestic violence, property, and harassment) by country. Read more.
Chadbourne Litigator Suing Firm is Expelled
Female partner sues firm in gender discrimination class action for $100 million. Spoiler alert–she’s not working at the firm any longer. Read more.
Madison Chocolatier CocoVaa is sued by Mars for trademark infringement
Are CocoVaa chocolates confusingly similar to CocoVia supplements? A Virginia federal court will decide. Read more.
The Rapist’s Loophole: Marriage
Multiple countries condone husbands’ violent acts against their wives with laws making marital rape expressly legal (10 countries) or by giving rapists an easy out (31 countries). Read more.
Drink Wisconsinbly pub co-owners allege they’ve been frozen out
Local partners duel over control of the bar and access to records. Read more.
Sexual Harassment Claims Against a ‘SHE-E.O.’
Employee of Thinx, a company that makes period underwear, sued claiming her boss’s boundary-breaking workplace motto went to far (e.g., boss allegedly conducted meetings via video conference from her bed, naked). Read more.
Consumer Review Fairness Act Taking Effect
Go ahead, post a negative review online. The form terms of service can’t stop you. Read more.
Pilot project to test proposed business court
Starting in July, Wisconsin will test a dedicated business court in Waukesha, Door, Outagamie, and Brown counties (among others) in the hopes to expedite large claim business cases and commercial disputes. Read more.
Federal Judge goes out on a ‘lonely limb’ and blocks Colorado town’s ban on topless women
Toplessness is now legal for all in Fort Collins. Read more.