Supreme Court Grants Cert in Case Challenging New York’s Credit Card Surcharge Ban

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a First Amendment challenge to New York’s ban on credit card surcharges.  The law allows merchants to charge different prices for cash and credit card purchases, but, according to the plaintiffs, it violates the First Amendment by prohibiting them from calling the extra charge for credit card purchases a “surcharge” — which the plaintiffs allege is a more effective way of encouraging the use of cash than describing the same arrangement as a cash “discount” (which is not prohibited).

Judge Rakoff had enjoined the law, but the Second Circuit reversed.

SCOTUSBlog has all the case documents here.

The Volokh Conspiracy has a post on the case here.

Our prior posts on the case are here.

Second Circuit Affirms Judge Forrest’s Dismissal of “Flash Boys” Suit

In an opinion Friday, the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Forrest’s dismissal of a complaint (see our prior coverage here) accusing stock exchanges of improperly allowing high-frequency traders to pay to obtain and trade on market data faster than other investors — the conduct at issue in the Michael Lewis book “Flash Boys.”  The Second Circuit agreed that the claims were preempted by the SEC having found the underlying conduct permissible:  “From the Exchange Act – which focuses on the need to create a national market system – we can infer that Congress intended for the regulations governing national securities exchanges and securities information processors to be uniform. Allowing conflicting judicial interpretation of the SEC requirements pursuant to state contract law would stand as an obstacle to the uniformity that Congress intended to create for the national market system.”

Judge Batts: Investors in Madoff Feeder Fund Lack Standing to Sue Fund Managers and Auditors

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Batts dismissed claims by investors in a Madoff feeder fund against the fund’s managers and auditors because, under the law of the British Virgin Islands (where the funds were organized), only the fund had standing to assert the claims. If fact, she noted, similar claims against the same defendants are being pursued by the fund itself in BVI liquidation proceedings: Continue Reading

Second Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Trademark Case Against Oprah

This week, the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Crotty’s grant of summary judgment dismissing trademark claims against Oprah Winfrey over use of the phrase “Own Your Power” (see our previous coverage here).  The Second Circuit agreed with Judge Crotty that use of the phrase “Own Your Power” was fair use and did not infringe on the name of the plaintiff’s motivational speaking business, Own Your Power Communications, Inc.  This decision was based on the panel’s finding that the plaintiff’s “mark” was merely a descriptive phrase: Continue Reading

Judge Rakoff, with Nod to Taylor Swift, Dismisses Copyright Claims Against Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”

Yesterday, Judge Rakoff dismissed claims that Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” infringed on the short film “Palinoia” through similarities in images, audio, and “total concept and feel.”  According to the plaintiff, elements such as a character with his or her head down near a wall with graffiti (elements that appear in scenes from both films, though with many other differences between the shots) are are protectable under the copyright laws.

Judge Rakoff disagreed, and found that the elements of “Palinoia” allegedly infringed upon were unprotectable ideas: Continue Reading

Two Photographers Bring Copyright Infringement Claims Against Mötley Crüe

Two photographers filed a complaint Tuesday against the band Mötley Crüe, alleging that the band and its merchandise vendors used the photographers’ work without permission as part of the band’s “Final Tour.”  The band allegedly included the photographers’ work on clothing and other items sold during the tour (the band’s last before their retirement), which grossed $86 million during over 150 shows in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.  The photographs were taken in the 1980s, including this one attached to the complaint:

Motley 2

The complaint includes claims for copyright infringement and removing copyright management information.

A judge has not yet been assigned to the case.

Last Two Bellwether Claims End in Settlement for GM Ignition Switch MDL

After over two years of multi-district litigation before Judge Furman, GM has settled the final two bellwether cases a week before trial was scheduled to begin.  Six bellwether cases were originally scheduled to be tried, and GM prevailed in the only one of the cases to reach trial.

Our previous coverage of the GM ignition switch litigation is here.

H/T Law360

Makers of Sour Patch Kids Move to Dismiss Case Over Allegedly Under-Filled Boxes

This week, Mondelez Global moved to dismiss a putative class action led by a consumer who allegedly bought an under-filled container of Sour Patch Kids candy from a movie theater in Manhattan.  The complaint alleges that the candy’s labeling is misleading, as consumers purchased far less candy than they believed due to large amounts of empty space in the packaging known as “slack-fill”:

16 Civ. 04697 MTD Pic 1

Continue Reading

Judge Stein Dismisses Citizens United’s Challenge to New York’s Charity Reporting Laws

Today, Judge Stein dismissed claims by Citizens United challenging New York’s reporting requirements for charities in the state (see our previous coverage here).  Citizens United challenged the New York Attorney General’s requirement that charities file an un-redacted Schedule B, a form listing the names and contribution amounts of the charity’s donors, before receiving a license to solicit contributions in the state.  Judge Stein found that the complaint did not allege that that law failed to advance important government interests : Continue Reading