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Judge Rakoff: Executives Cannot Buy Company Products at Grossly Inflated Prices to Trigger Earnout Bonus

The summary judgment ruling, issued yesterday, begins: Why would the executives (and former principals) of a paddle-board division of a sports and recreation company cause the company to make a one-time $60,500 purchase of one million stickers that the executives themselves immediately attempted to repurchase from the company for approximately $4 million? The answer is … Continue Reading

Judge Sullivan: Qui Tam Plaintiff Who Voluntarily Dismisses Case Cannot Share in Proceeds from Settlement of Later-Filed Government Case

In an opinion last week, Judge Sullivan concluded that the False Claims Act did not allow a “relator” (a private citizen suing on behalf of the government for fraud against the government) who voluntarily dismissed his case to share in the proceeds from a case that the government later filed on its own. The False Claim … Continue Reading

Judge Koeltl Holds That Video Game Players Lack Standing to Challenge Use of Their Facial Images

Yesterday, Judge Koeltl dismissed a putative class action complaint against video game company Take-Two claiming that the company had improperly used facial recognition software.  The complaint alleged that the MyPlayer feature in Take-Two’s “NBA 2K15” and “NBA 2K16” games, which created an image of the game player’s face for a custom character in the game, violated Illinois’ … Continue Reading

Judge Hellerstein Authorizes § 1782 Discovery to Law Firm in Aid of Anticipated Dutch Suit Against Firm Client

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Hellerstein authorized discovery from the law firm Cravath under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 relating to a claim that the petitioning party planned to file, but had not yet filed, in the Netherlands against a Cravath client. Judge Hellerstein rejected Cravath’s argument that, since the Netherlands case hadn’t been filed, the … Continue Reading

Paul McCartney Seeks to Reclaim Rights to Beatles Songs Under the Copyright Act

Sir Paul McCartney aims to reclaim his rights to popular Beatles songs in a complaint filed yesterday.  The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that his copyright termination notices are valid ahead of the 2018 expiration of the Copyright Act’s term for pre-1978 copyrights – 56 years after McCartney and John Lennon began composing together in 1962.  Sony/ATV … Continue Reading

Judge Schofield Rules that State Courts Should First Interpret a Lobbying Law under First Amendment Challenge

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Schofield invoked so-called “Pullman”-abstention and thereby declined to rule on a case raising a novel state question.  The case is a constitutional challenge by PR firms to a New York law requiring lobbyists to make certain disclosures.  The firms argued that an advisory opinion by state regulators could be interpreted … Continue Reading

Judge Daniels Denies Motion to Dismiss Challenge to Delays in Bronx Criminal Court

In an opinion last week, Judge Daniels denied a motion to dismiss a case alleging that extreme delays in the Bronx Criminal Court system violated the constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial.  While Judge Daniels found that the named plaintiffs lacked standing because their cases had been resolved, Judge Daniels allowed 30 days for the … Continue Reading

New York Court of Appeals Answers Question First Raised by Judge McMahon: No Common Law Right of Public Performance For Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

Today, the New York Court of Appeals, in response to a question certified from the Second Circuit (after being certified for interlocutory review by Judge McMahon), held that New York common-law copyright law does not recognize a right of public performance for creators of sound recordings predating the 1972 federal Copyright Act.  The question was certified … Continue Reading

Judge Oetken: Preliminary Injunction Winner in Trademark Case Cannot Direct Third Party Retailers to Stop Selling the Accused Product

In an opinion today, Judge Oetken clarified a preliminary injunction granted to the maker of a product called “My Cinema Lightbox,” a backlit sign similar to old-fashioned movie theater displays (see image below), against a similar product called “My Marquee Lightbox.”   After winning its motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff  began instructing retailers that … Continue Reading

Judge Seibel Dismisses Class Action Alleging Too Much Empty Space in Muscle Milk Containers

This week, Judge Seibel dismissed a putative class action against the makers of Muscle Milk and other protein powder products.  The plaintiff alleged that the products were mislabeled under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as they contained unnecessary empty space (or “slack fill”) that represented up to 30% of the container’s volume. Judge Seibel found that these allegations alone … Continue Reading

Judge Forrest: Enough With “Reductionist” Motions of Patent Ineligibility

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Forrest denied a summary judgment motion seeking to declare the plaintiff’s claimed patents ineligible for patent protection.  The opinion begins with skepticism of the current “fad” of patent defendants seeking to declare patents ineligible with “reductionist” arguments that overly simplify the invention:… Continue Reading

Judge Koeltl: Swedish Foreign Ministry Immune from Chauffeur’s Discrimination Claims

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Koeltl dismissed discrimination and retaliation claims from a chauffeur for the Swedish foreign ministry, finding that the case did not fall within the “commercial” exception to sovereign immunity: In his capacity as a chauffeur, the plaintiff was responsible for transporting the Swedish Ambassador and the Ambassador’s family, Swedish diplomats and … Continue Reading

Challenge to “We Shall Overcome” Copyright Survives Motion to Dismiss

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Cote granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a case challenging the copyright to “We Shall Overcome,” the unofficial anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement.  (See our prior post on the case here.) The defendant copyright owners argued that the copyrighted song was sufficiently different from … Continue Reading

Judge Oetken: Lawyer Cannot Sue Internet Search Engines That Index Negative Articles

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Oetken ruled that internet search engines are immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) for indexing websites with negative articles about the plaintiff, a lawyer: Courts have interpreted the CDA to give search engines broad immunity from defamation and other related causes of action resulting from their aggregation and … Continue Reading

Judge Rakoff Bemoans “Insidious Trend” of Ordinary Citizens’ Decreasing Access to Courts

Judge Rakoff has published in The New York Review of Books a piece entitled Why You Won’t Get Your Day in Court, in which he describes several factors that have caused ordinary citizens to have less and less access to courts.  He argues, for example, that the Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T v. Concepcion, which upheld … Continue Reading

Judge Castel Denies Injunction Against Enforcement of “Ballot Selfie” Ban

Today, Judge Castel denied an attempt to enjoin the enforcement of New York’s Election Law § 17-130, or the so-called “ballot selfie” ban.  Judge Castel found that the state’s interest in protecting against voter fraud and intimidation by preventing voters from revealing the content of their ballots (even if through Instagram) was a reasonable First Amendment … Continue Reading

Judge Swain: Bare Allegation that Courthouse Contractor Was Underpaid Does Not Satisfy Rule 8

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Swain dismissed a case brought by a subcontractor who worked on the SDNY courthouse and claims to have been underpaid by $20 million.  She found the complaint lacked even the most basic details required under Rule 8: [The plaintiff]  alleges generally that it believes it is owed more than $20,000,000 … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Echoes Judge Castel’s Timing Concern in Refusing to Immediatly Enjoin “Ballot Selfie” Ban

In an opinion this afternoon, the Sixth Circuit refused to block Michigan’s “ballot selfie” ban, and, in doing so, echoed the very same concern from Judge Castel on Wednesday (covered in this post, immediately below), about delay in bringing suit: One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Michigan enacted a law designed to protect the secret … Continue Reading

Judge Castel Expresses Skepticism of Delay in Application to Enjoin “Ballot Selfie” Ban

On Wednesday, a new complaint sought a TRO and preliminary injunction against a law banning so-called “ballot selfies” on the ground that the law violates the First Amendment.  According to the complaint, “Taking a photograph of a filled out ballot is a powerful political statement that demonstrates the importance of voting. Without the photograph, the message … Continue Reading

FOIA Suit Seeks Disclosure of Law Enforcement Surveillance of Black Lives Matter Movement

A complaint filed yesterday seeks to enforce a FOIA request for data on the federal government’s surveillance of the activities of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The complaint argues that the monitoring may “chill valuable public debate about police violence, including the use of deadly force, criminal justice, and racial inequities” in violation of the First … Continue Reading
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