Thursday, April 23, 2015

David Rintoul was quoted in the Connecticut Law Tribune this week regarding the recent ERISA case of Haddock v. Nationwide Life Insurance Co. in which a class action settlement was approved with a payment of $140 million to class members, and attorneys’ fees of $49,000.  Here is a link to the article article (free registration required).  If you are interested more information on ERISA, David has a blog discussing ERISA and the process of applying for and winning long-term disability benefits.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Legal Battle Between Edible Arrangements and 1-800-Flowers Heating Up

Deliveries from 1-800 Flowers and Edible Arrangements usually bring smiles to recipients’ faces, but that is not the case when the organizations are delivering lawsuits. In November 2014, Edible Arrangements International filed a $97.4-million trademark infringement lawsuit against 1-800 Flowers.  Edible Arrangements alleged that 1-800 Flowers’ website, FruitBouquets.com, contained hidden code and used keyword advertising designed to deceive customers into thinking that Edible Arrangements was associated with FruitBouquets.com. Specifically, Edible Arrangements alleged that the phrase “edible arrangement” is embedded in FruitBouquet.com’s code and the site’s title that is displayed in browsers is “Edible Fruit Arrangements.” Overall, Edible Arrangement’s alleged that 1-800 Flowers incited a campaign to intentionally infringe Edible Arrangement’s trademarks and confuse customers.

Recently, 1-800 Flowers responded by filing a countersuit against Edible Arrangements sounding in allegations of “anticompetitive activities.” Specifically, 1-800 Flowers claims that Edible Arrangements has improperly claimed trademark rights in generic terms, such as “edible” and “edible arrangements,” which competitors need to use to market their products. 1-800 Flowers claimed that Edible Arrangement’s activities, lawsuits, and threats of lawsuits have chilled competition in the marketplace and will continue to chill competition unless Edible Arrangements is enjoined from engaging in these activities.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

No "Blurred Lines" in Jury's Decision Finding Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams Liable for Copyright Infringement

The song “Blurred Lines” was undoubtedly one of the summer of 2013’s biggest hits. Nearly two years later, this song is still making headlines after a jury recently found singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams liable for copyright infringement.

In 2011, singer Marvin Gaye’s family filed suit alleging that “Blurred Lines” copied protected elements of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give it Up.” Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’s attorneys argued that the similarities between the two songs were not substantial and that “Blurred Lines” was intended to evoke an era and to be emblematic of the disco genre.

Nevertheless, the jury awarded more than $7.3 million in damages to Gaye’s family; two of Gaye’s children received $4 million in damages and $3.3 million of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’s profits from the song. Rapper Clifford Harris, Jr., who is also known as T.I., was not found liable for copyright infringement. Recently, attorneys for Marvin Gaye’s family filed post-trial motions to stop sales of the song so that an agreement regarding future revenue sharing could be negotiated. At this time, it is unclear whether the parties will appeal this decision.

In light of this decision, some members of the music and legal communities are concerned as to the impact that this will have on future creative pursuits. Some musicians believe that this decision will chill creative expression as many musicians will avoid using common arrangements and eschew the tradition of borrowing from earlier works. While there are only so many ways in which chords and notes can be arranged in musical compositions, musicians still have the opportunity to utilize protected elements of other works by availing themselves of licensing processes to request permission to incorporate the elements into their works.