Judge Daniels Narrows Trademark Case Against Company Offering “Frozen Themed” Costumed Characters for Children’s Parties

Last week, Judge Daniels granted in large part a summary judgment motion that Characters For Hire, a company that provides costumed characters for children’s events, had filed in response to trademark, unfair competition and and similar claims.  According to the plaintiffs (Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilm), Characters for Hire’s costumes, including ones named “Frozen Themed,” “Avenging Team,” and “Star Battles,” are strikingly similar to well-known characters from the plaintiffs’ Frozen, Avengers, and Star Wars franchises.

Judge Daniels rejected the plaintiffs’ claims of consumer confusion, noting that whether children believed the generic characters were the same as the more famous Disney versions was irrelevant: Continue Reading

Judge Koeltl Allows DNC to Serve Wikileaks by Twitter

Last week, via a memo endorsement, Judge Koeltl granted the Democratic National Committee’s motion to serve Wikileaks by Twitter in the DNC’s case over the 2016 election hacks (see our coverage here).

The DNC argued that “[w]hile WikiLeaks’ physical presence is difficult to discern, it has a robust online presence, including an active presence on Twitter, using the handle @WikiLeaks.”  From that account, Wikileaks in fact had acknowledged reading the DNC’s complaint.  As the DNC argued in its motion, “From April 20 to April 22, WikiLeaks tweeted about the lawsuit at least six times, in one instance including a screenshot of part of the complaint, and in three instances directing followers to analyses of the complaint.”

On Friday, as Judge Koeltl authorized, the DNC served the initiating documents via the following tweet :

For another case involving social media service of process, see this post from five years ago in which Judge Engelmayer denied a motion to serve Indian telemarketers via Facebook.

Judge Stein:  Class Periods Should Have Firm End Dates

In an opinion today, Judge Stein denied a motion to decertify a class action against the dating service “It’s Just Lunch” (see our prior coverage here) and concluded that many of the objections to the class could be solved by modifying the previous class definition so that there was a firm end date for the class period: Continue Reading

Judge Daniels Dismisses Case Against Fox News Over Alleged Conspiracy Theories for DNC Staffer’s Death

Yesterday, Judge Daniels dismissed a complaint filed by the family of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich against Fox News, which alleged that Fox News and two contributors intentionally exploited the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich during the 2016 election season.  According to the complaint,  Rich was murdered in Washington in what authorities believed was a botched robbery; Fox News then allegedly reported a false story that Rich had been murdered after leaking thousands of DNC emails to Wikileaks (see our complete coverage here).

According to Judge Daniels, while the statements by a Fox News contributor may have been false, they did not rise to the level of “outrageous” conduct required for intentional infliction of emotion distress: Continue Reading

Judge Buchwald: No “Coddling” of Plaintiffs in Suit Over Junior Mints

This week, Judge Buchwald dismissed a complaint against Tootsie Roll Industries, makers of the candy Junior Mints, claiming that packages of Junior Mints contained “non-functional slack-fill” which mislead consumers as to the amount of product contained in the package.

Judge Buchwald noted that the labeling on the package, including the estimated servings in each package, could alert a reasonable consumer how much of the product was in each package: Continue Reading

Judge Berman Declines Fan’s Request to Sign “Deflategate” Sports Illustrated Cover

In an docketed email Monday, Judge Berman politely declined a fan’s request to autograph a Sports Illustrated cover (likely the one below) over the “Deflategate” case (see our coverage here).

Judge Berman pointed out that “while I was privileged to preside over this very interesting case, remember that I did so as the randomly selected district court judge who was next up on the case assignment wheel.”  He added that signing the cover might violate the judicial ethics canon against lending the prestige of the office to advance the interests of others.

(H/T Chris Villani)

Judge Keenan: Addressing Climate Change is “Squarely Within the Purview of the Political Branches”

Yesterday, Judge Keenan dismissed a complaint against several producers of fossil fuels that asked the court to address the producers’ role in the effects of climate change.  The complaint, filed by the City of New York, alleged that the defendants had known for decades about the effects of their fossil fuel emissions on the global climate but continued to promote these fuels.  The City alleged it was harmed when it had to take additional steps to protect the City and its infrastructure from the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and intense storms like Hurricane Sandy.

Judge Keenan held that the state law claims alleged in the complaint were preempted by the federal Clean Air Act.  According to Judge Keenan: Continue Reading

Judge Koeltl to Litigants: Service Not a “Game” So Work Something Out

In the DNC’s lawsuit over having been hacked during the 2016 election (see here), Judge Koeltl today denied without prejudice the DNC’s motion to serve Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner by alternate means (first-class mail), instead encouraging the parties to just work something out:

The Court . . . notes that service of process is intended to provide notice of a lawsuit to a defendant so that the issues of the case can be joined and the lawsuit decided on its merit or lack of merit. Service is not intended to be a game for the serving party or the party to be served. The Court is confident that the DNC’s counsel can contact Kushner’s counsel and arrange a mutually convenient means to effectuate service.

Four States Sue Treasury Department Over Cap on State and Local Tax Deduction

Yesterday, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland filed a complaint against the U.S. Treasury Department and others, seeking to invalidate the newly-enacted cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) on a filer’s federal income tax return.  Prior to the 2017 changes to the tax law, all or a substantial portion of SALT could be deducted from a federal tax return.  After 2017, the deduction was capped at $10,000. Continue Reading