Art, Entertainment & Sports Constitutional Law

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Of Slants, Skins And Signs: The March To The Supreme Court

This week saw developments in the two cases challenging the application of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to their registration: In re Tam and Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc....more

The Slants and the Future of Disparaging Trademarks

Trademark and copyright law are in a constant struggle with the right of free expression guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This is unavoidable. Copyright laws were enacted to protect authors of...more

Pro Football Calls SCOTUS Audible

As we noted here last week, the Director of the USPTO filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it review the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision, In re Tam. That decision held Section...more

10th Circ.: Permit Issuance Is Not State Action For Purposes of 14th Amendment

On April 19, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Wasatch Equality, et al., v. Alta Ski Lifts Company, et al., affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that the U.S. Forest Service, in...more

USPTO to SCOTUS: SOS on the Lanham Act ASAP

On April 20, 2016, the USPTO made it official: It formally requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review the en banc Federal Circuit decision that held Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. At issue...more

Blake Shelton Says Magazine Wrong About Rehab & Survives Anti-SLAPP Motion

Last year, country music superstar Blake Shelton filed suit in federal court against the creators and publishers of In Touch Weekly, bringing claims of libel per se and false light invasion of privacy after the magazine...more

California Resale Royalty Act Claims Dismissed as Preempted by Copyright Law, Despite 1980 Ninth Circuit Holding to the Contrary

Just three months after the Supreme Court denied certiorari review of last year’s Ninth Circuit decision finding California’s Resale Royalty Act unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause in part—but also valid in...more

First Amendment Prevents Right of Publicity Claim Arising from Film About “Issues of a Public Nature” - Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver v....

In a lawsuit involving the 2010 Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that right of publicity claims arising from expressive works, including films, are in essence...more

In re Tam: Still No Trademark Registration for The Slants

In the continuing saga of whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment, the rock band The Slants will have to wait a little longer before it knows whether it can register...more

Straight Outta the Central District: The First Amendment Shields Straight Outta Compton Filmmakers from Misappropriation of...

The filmmakers of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, the biopic chronicling the career of hip-hop sensation N.W.A., scored a key victory in the Central District of California last Wednesday in the case of Heller v. NBCUniversal,...more

The Slants’ Trademark Application Remains in Purgatory as Federal Circuit Passes on Pushing PTO to Publish

Late last year, Simon Tam and his legal team scored a big-time victory: they convinced the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (sitting en banc) that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. The Court...more

Court Denies Class Cert. in NCAA Antitrust Suit

The NCAA scored a victory last week with the denial of class certification in an antitrust suit challenging the association’s former ban on multiyear scholarships (the “One Year Rule”) and its cap on scholarships (the “GIA...more

Ryder v. Lightstorm Entertainment, Inc., et al. - California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, March 25,...

California Court of Appeal affirms summary judgment in favor of James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment in idea submission case, finding plaintiff unable to prove that defendants used any of plaintiff’s ideas in...more

Don’t Shoot the Messenger—Student Art Removed, First Amendment Notwithstanding

Last fall we had occasion to address the extent to which public displays of art and attempts at controlling the content of them can run afoul of the First Amendment. In that case, public outrage at artwork submitted by...more

Freedom of Speech Protects “Disparaging” Marks, Federal Circuit Holds

In a recent landmark ruling, the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, held that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s ban on “disparaging” marks violates the First Amendment. Section 2(a) provides that no trademark shall be refused...more

Hulk-Sized Damages in Sex Tape Privacy and Publicity Case

In 2006, Terry Gene Bollea, better known as “Hulk Hogan,” had sex with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem. Apparently unbeknownst to either of them, his best friend Todd Alan Clem, now legally known as “Bubba the Love...more

Manatt Digital Media - March 2016

In this newsletter, we take a detailed look at the world of virtual reality with an emphasis on the potential legal issues that exist in this area of media that is still in its infancy....more

Goliath Versus Goliath:  Three Takeaways From the En Banc Rehearing of NCAA v. New Jersey

Barring congressional action, the future of sports betting in the United States lies in the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Last month, the en banc court heard argument in NCAA v. New Jersey, No....more

Ninth Circuit Retcons Its “Dancing Baby” Fair Use Decision and Creates More Confusion

Apparently, George Lucas is not the only party in California who can edit his own work after release in order to change aspects he does not like. While perhaps not as culturally significant as changing Star Wars: A New Hope...more

U.S. Supreme Court Punts on Dispute Involving NFL Players’ Publicity Rights

The Supreme Court passed on an opportunity to review a recent appellate court decision holding that a video game publisher is not protected by the First Amendment for using the likenesses of former NFL football stars in the...more

USPTO To Suspend New Trademark Applications Containing Scandalous Or Disparaging Material

On March 10, 2016, The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) issued new examination guidance for trademark applications containing potentially immoral or scandalous matter, which is expressly prohibited by...more

“Mattress Performance” Title IX Lawsuit Against Columbia Is Dismissed

Last May, a former Columbia University student sued the university over the circumstances around Emma Sulkowicz’s widely publicized “Mattress Project,” in which Sulkowicz vowed to carry a mattress around campus so long as the...more

Former NFL Players’ Right of Publicity Claims Get Sidelined—Will We Hear From The Replay Officials?   

In Dryer v. The National Football League, three former gridiron gladiators who played in the NFL had their claims for right of publicity under state law tossed out by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. These three players...more

Eighth Circuit Tells Former NFL Players: Your Right Of Publicity Claims Are Preempted By The Copyright Act

The Eighth Circuit recently rejected three former NFL players’ appeal of a district court’s dismissal of their right of publicity claims, among other claims. John Frederick Dryer, Elvin Lamont Bethea, and Edward Alvin White...more

8th Circuit Finds Copyright Act Preempts State Right Of Publicity Of Professional Athletes

In a recent case, Dryer v. Nat’l Football League, No. 14-3428, 2016 WL 761178 (8th Cir. Feb. 26, 2016), former National Football League (“NFL”) players (the “Players”) sued the NFL over the use of their name, image, voice,...more

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