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In Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017), the trademark case involving the name of the Asian-American rock band The Slants, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the portion of §2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(a), that prohibits the federal registration of potentially disparaging trademarks and service marks, violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The eight justices participating in the case agreed that the prohibition constituted a viewpoint-based government restriction, but they divided evenly on the constitutional significance of that consideration. Whatever the resolution of that division ultimately may be, though, the outcome of the litigation is unlikely to affect the validity of most — but not necessarily all — of the Lanham Act’s other prohibitions on registration. This is an important consideration in the entertainment industry in which products with outrageous names are common.
By Stan Soocher
Non-payment of monies is an all-too-common complaint in the entertainment industry, with frustrated plaintiffs in many cases seeking default judgments against defendants who fail to respond to lawsuits seeking payment. Two new Central District of California federal court decisions illustrate — after the judges sort through the factors for determining whether to grant a default judgment — how consideration of the amount of money at issue resulted in different outcomes on whether to enter a default judgment.
By Stan Soocher
We sadly note the November passing of long-time Entertainment Law & Finance editorial board member Jay Rosenthal.
By Raychel Lean
A New Yorker who settled a copyright lawsuit against several news outlets over a photo he took of star quarterback Tom Brady and Boston Celtics manager Danny Ainge has struck again. This time he’s suing a radio station owner in Florida federal courts in a case that could test the boundaries of an emerging area of copyright law, raising major questions about how media companies incorporate social media posts into online stories.
By Maxwell Briskman Stanfield
In the entertainment industry, it can take years for actors, musicians and others to reach a point where their efforts begin bringing in a notable return. If and when these types of clients begin to make a consistently significant income, one method that deserves consideration for protecting the hard-earned pay is to organize a loan-out corporation.