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Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation

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Notable court filings in entertainment law.

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Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr filed a trade secret and breach-of-contract lawsuit in Florida Southern Federal District Court on behalf of Springboard Media. The suit, which centers on the plaintiff’s development of a sports-themed social media platform, targets Augusta Hitech Soft Solutions, an external software consultant. The suit alleges that Augusta Hitech failed to complete its deliverables in accordance with the parties’ contract and leaked Springboard’s confidential information to competitors. The case is Springboard Media LLC v. Augusta Hitech Soft Solutions LLC, 1:22-cv-20191. Proskauer Rose filed a trademark and trade dress infringement lawsuit in California Central Federal District Court on behalf of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), which presents the annual Grammy Awards. The suit targets Creative Copperopolis and other defendants over “the Cammies,” or the Calaveras Arts & Music Awards. NARAS accuses the defendants of intentionally infringing on the name, artwork and award statuette design of the Grammys in order to imply a false association. The case is National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Inc. v. Creative Copperopolis, 2:22-cv-00269. Kasowitz Benson Torres filed an antitrust lawsuit in California Northern Federal District Court against the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The partially redacted complaint was brought on behalf of competing wrestling company MLW Media, which accuses the WWE of “poaching” talent, misappropriating confidential information and airing MLW footage without permission. MLW also contends that the WWE uses intimidation tactics to interfere with competitors’ contracts, such as MLW’s recent broadcasting agreement with Vice TV and streaming agreement with Tubi of Fox Corp. The case is MLW Media LLC v. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., 3:22-cv-00179. … Garena, a Singapore-based online game developer, was slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit in California Central Federal District Court in connection with its Free Fire and Free Fire Max apps. The lawsuit, which also takes aim at Apple and Google for their sale of the apps, was filed by Winston & Strawn on behalf of Krafton Inc., publisher of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Krafton Inc. v. Apple Inc., 2:22-cv-00209. Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in California Central Federal District Court on behalf of Crazy Maple Studio, creator of the interactive narrative game Chapter. The suit takes aim at competitor RepresentLY over its app Lure: Interactive Chart Stories, claiming it contains an infringing story titled “Control Me.” The case is Crazy Maple Studio Inc. v. RepresentLY Inc., 8:22-cv-00029. Scott + Scott filed a securities class action in California Central Federal District Court against EthereumMax, its co-founders and its celebrity promoters, including Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather. The lawsuit, which centers on EMAX Tokens, accuses the founders of making misleading statements to investors about EthereumMax through social media advertisements and failing to disclose how many EMAX Tokens were available for public trading. The case is Huegerich v. Gentile, 2:22-cv-00163. A former GameStop executive filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against the company in Texas Northern Federal District Court. Bruce Kulp, who is represented by Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, accuses GameStop of firing him to prevent the disclosure of negative information regarding the financial impact of increased shipping costs. Kulp, who served as GameStop’s senior vice president of supply chain for more than a decade, claims that he was fired in late 2020 after preparing an analysis of the issue for GameStop’s board of directors. The case is Kulp v. GameStop Corp., 4:22-cv-00012.DraftKings, the daily fantasy sports and sports betting site, and its controlling shareholders, directors and officers were hit with a shareholder derivative action in Nevada Federal District Court. The case, filed by Leverty & Associates, accuses the defendants of employing a “front” company to operate in markets where online gambling is restricted and thereby exposes DraftKings to heightened risk of criminal or regulatory enforcement actions and civil securities litigation. The case is Yu v. Robins 3:22-cv-00005. Activision, the California-based video game maker and owner of Call of Duty, sued Leonard Bugla, CMM Holdings S.A. and other defendants in California Central Federal District Court over copyright claims. The case, filed by Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, accuses the defendants of unlawfully distributing and selling cheat codes to Call of Duty. The case is Activision Publishing Inc. v. EngineOwning Ug, 2:22-cv-00051.The National Football League, New York Jets, New York Giants and MetLife Stadium Company were hit with a false advertising class action in New York Southern Federal District Court. The suit, filed by Evan Spencer Law, accuses the Jets and Giants of deceiving fans and violating civil RICO laws by using the “New York” brand when they are located in New Jersey. The suit further contends that using the “New York” brand increases the value of the Jets and Giants teams, negatively impacts the state and city of New York and harms millions of NFL fans. The case is Suero v. National Football League, 1:22-cv-00031. Duane Morris filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Florida Southern Federal District Court against Breaking Rules Publishing over the book You Don’t Know What I Have Done by Sheila McNaughton. The complaint was brought on behalf of Tom Hussey Photography, which accuses the defendant of using a photograph from Hussey’s award-winning Reflections series as the book’s cover without permission. The case is Tom Hussey Photography LLC v. Clawson-Rule, 0:21-cv-62572.Netflix and Goode Films LLC have been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit in California Central Federal District Court over film clips used in the popular 2020 docuseries Tiger King. The court case was filed by Law Office of David Berke on behalf of Morgan Creek Productions, producer of Ace Venture 2, When Nature Calls. The suit contends that two Ace Venture 2 clips were used in Tiger King episodes without authorization. The case is Morgan Creek Productions Inc. v. Netflix Inc., 2:21-cv-09946. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in California Central Federal District Court on behalf of the Barry White Family Trust over the musical act JD Hall and the Barry White Symphony Orchestra. The suit, which targets JD Hall Productions and Sterling Venue Ventures, contends that the act performs derivative arrangements of the late White’s iconic musical compositions. The complaint also asserts that the defendants stream videos of these performances online, use White’s image in marketing campaigns and misrepresent to the public that the act features musicians who have actually worked with White. The case is By Its Duly Empowered Trustees The Barry White Family Trust U/A/D: December 19, 1980 v. Hall, 2:21-cv-09762. AT&T, DirecTV and other defendants were sued in California Central Federal District Court in a case filed by Bush Gottlieb on behalf of the Screen Actors Guild seeking to compel arbitration related to a labor union dispute over the television series Mr. Mercedes. The case is Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists v. Labc Productions LLC, 2:21-cv-09879. The National Football League, its 32 teams and the online retailer Fanatics were hit with an antitrust class action in California Northern Federal District Court over an alleged conspiracy to dominate the online market for NFL-licensed merchandise. The suit, filed by Cera LLP, Nematzadeh PLLC, and Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer, claims that the defendants colluded to freeze out rival sellers and solidify Fanatics as the dominant player in the market for sports-themed t-shirts, hats, jerseys and other goods. The suit pursues claims on behalf of sellers who claim that they have been prohibited from selling NFL-licensed products through Amazon storefronts. The case is Casey’s Distributing Inc. v. National Football League Inc., 3:21-cv-09905. Meanwhile, the same group of defendants have been hit with an antitrust class action in California Northern Federal District Court on behalf of direct purchasers of NFL-licensed merchandise. The suit, filed by Burns Charest LLP and attorney Andrew M. Purdy, claims that the defendants colluded to freeze out Fanatics’ competitors and then entered anticompetitive agreements that have resulted in inflated prices for sports-themed t-shirts, hats, jerseys and other goods. This case is Hastings v. National Football League Inc., 3:21-cv-09908.

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