Free Speech

News & Analysis as of

Intellectual Property Law - February 2016

Both Sides Claim Victory in ITC Ruling re Converse's "Chuck Taylors" - Why it matters: On November 17, 2015, an International Trade Commission judge issued an initial ruling in In the Matter of Certain Footwear Products,...more

Are We Witnessing A Pushback By Courts To Anti-SLAPP Motions?

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the date the DC anti-SLAPP statute became effective, recent decisions have me wondering if we are witnessing increased hostility against anti-SLAPP statutes nationwide?...more

City Ordinance Banning New Outdoor Billboards, but Authorizing Relocated Ones, Upheld by California Court

Authorizing Relocated Ones Upheld by Court; Constitutional Challenges Rejected; Injunction Order to Remove Billboard Affirmed - The City of Corona has prevailed in a constitutional challenge to its enforcement of a...more

2015: A Year-End Review of Litigation Using California’s Anti-SLAPP Statute

Annually, California’s Courts of Appeal and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regularly issue several dozen published opinions interpreting California’s anti-SLAPP statute, Civil Procedure Section 425.16 et seq., and...more

Rehitching the Horse: Oregon Court of Appeals Adjusts the Anti-SLAPP Cart

Although Oregon is in its 15th year of anti-SLAPP litigation under a decidedly robust statute, no Oregon appellate court had ruled on how to decide when Oregon’s anti-SLAPP statute applies until the recent decision in Mullen...more

State Supreme Court Strikes Down Washington’s Anti-SLAPP Statute

The Washington Supreme Court in May struck down the state’s 2010 anti-SLAPP statute, holding in a unanimous opinion that the law violates the state constitution’s right to a jury trial and is invalid on its face. The...more

D.C. Circuit Rules Anti-SLAPP Law Inapplicable in Federal Court, Highlighting Need for Federal Anti-SLAPP Law

In April, the D.C. Circuit held that the District of Columbia anti-SLAPP statute does not apply in a federal court diversity case because “Federal Rules 12 and 56 answer the same question as the anti-SLAPP Act’s special...more

Is There a “Classic” SLAPP Case?

One of the interesting things about the Doe v. Burke II appeal is the Superior Court’s reasoning that, although the complaint was dismissed under the DC anti-SLAPP statute, no attorneys’ fees were warranted because the case...more

Brandmarking: Taylor Swift’s Excellent Brandmarking Adventure - March 2015 - Volume 4, Number 2

Taylor Swift’s Excellent Brandmarking Adventure - Making a splash is more or less what pop stars and other celebrities do for a living. But not many of them do it by applying for federal trademark registrations....more

FTC Throws Down the Gauntlet To Information Providers and Users

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) started the New Year by throwing down the gauntlet to organizations that sell, buy or otherwise provide or use “Big Data” analytics, particularly including employers, creditors, landlords,...more

The Door Is Open To Disparaging Trademarks

Federal Circuit Rules § 2(A) of tThe Lanham Act Unconstitutional - Refusal to Register Disparaging Marks Held Unconstitutional - On December 22, 2015, the Federal Circuit in In re Simon Shiao Tam ruled that Section...more

Google Appeals Equustek to SCC

The Google and Equustek Saga has garnered attention across Canada and even among US commentators (something rare for Canadian decisions). In September, 2015, Google Inc. filed an application for leave to appeal the decision...more

Ninth Circuit Opens the Door to Relaxing Decades-Old Law Restricting Supplier-Paid Advertising in Retail Establishments

In a decision released on January 7, 2016, Retail Digital Network LLC v. Jacob Appelsmith, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned 29-year-old precedent set in Actmedia Inc. v. Stroh, which held that those...more

[Webinar] Registration of 'Disparaging' Trademarks After 'The Slants' - January 27, 12:00-1:00pm, EST

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which bars registration of marks that “disparage” a group of people, is an unconstitutional infringement of First Amendment free speech...more

Supreme Court Signals Skepticism of Public-Sector Union Agency Fees

On January 11, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Frederichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that will decide whether public-sector employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of...more

In re Simon Shiao Tam - USCA, Federal Circuit, December 22, 2015

In case with potentially far-reaching effects, including on Washington Redskins’ ongoing legal battle to maintain federal trademark registration, Federal Circuit sitting en banc strikes down federal statute that permits...more

Must An Employer Tolerate Truly Obnoxious Employee Speech That Is Not Job-Related?

There is a tenured professor at Florida Atlantic University School of Communications and Multi-Media Studies who has gained notoriety because of his public statements, including a blog, which claim that virtually every mass...more

Checklist: Does the Anti-SLAPP Statute Apply?

An anti-SLAPP motion to strike is generally available when one of the causes of action in a case is based on an act of a person in furtherance of the person’s constitutional right of petition or free speech in connection with...more

Another Court Imposes a “Public Interest” Requirement for anti-SLAPP motions

After my post on the Vermont Supreme Court’s decision, requiring all motions under Vermont’s anti-SLAPP statute to be based upon speech made in connection with an issue of public interest, a reader sent me a decision from a...more

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Refusal to Register Disparaging Trademarks Struck Down on First Amendment Grounds

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a 9-3 decision in In re Tam, has declared a provision of the federal trademark law unconstitutional as violating the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. The...more

Of Slants, Skins and Signs: Another Step Closer to the Showdown

In September, we discussed In re Tam and the potential for a showdown over the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. At that time, a panel of the Federal Circuit had recently upheld the PTO’s refusal to...more

Washington Redskins Haven’t Won Yet: Why the Constitutionality of Section 2(a) is Not Yet Final

What do Washington D.C.’s NFL team, the Redskins, and Mr. Tam’s rock band, The Slants, have in common? Both have enjoyed unexpected victories recently and both have been called “disparaging” by the Patent and Trademark Office...more

Federal Circuit: Lanham Act “Disparaging” Mark Prohibition Unconstitutional

On December 22nd the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued its sua sponte en banc In re Tam decision regarding the constitutionality of the “disparaging” marks bar under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. A Federal...more

“May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor” – The Ten Best Prescription Drug/Medical Device Decisions of 2015

The iconic Hunger Games line, “may the odds be ever in your favor” pretty much sums up how we feel about our top ten best decisions of 2015. These are results that put the “happy” in Happy New Year – which we wish all our...more

Is there a “Public Interest” Requirement for anti-SLAPP Motions?

Does a party moving under the DC anti-SLAPP statute need to show that the claim arises from a statement made in connection with an issue of public interest?  While the text of the DC anti-SLAPP statute suggests the answer is...more

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