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Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has removed a lawsuit from Los Angeles Superior Court to California Central District Federal Court alleging breach of profit-participation agreement against AMC Networks. The court action was filed by Sullivan & Triggs on behalf of Robert Kirkman, a writer and producer who co-created The Walking Dead comic book, and other entertainment producers and production entities involved in creating the hit television series based on the comic book. The plaintiffs seek over $200 million dollars per an agreement in which they exchanged their intellectual property rights for a percentage of the show’s profits. The plaintiffs accuse AMC of refusing to pay and adding “insult to injury” by charging them fees associated with an underlying $200 million settlement paid to filmmaker Frank Darabont and his production company. The case is Kirkman v. AMC Film Holdings LLC, 2:22-cv-09101. … O’Melveny & Myers partners Leah Godesky and Daniel M. Petrocelli entered appearances for Walt Disney Animation Studios and other defendants in a pending copyright infringement lawsuit. The complaint was filed in November in California Central District Federal Court by Polsinelli and Renner Kenner Greive Bobak Taylor & Weber on behalf of Daniel E. Grigson, a songwriter and musician who contends that various elements of his song “That Girl” were used to create the song “Some Things Never Change” for the blockbuster animated feature Frozen II. The case, assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Rozella A. Oliver, is Grigson v. Lopez, 2:22-cv-07971. … Viper Room IP Holdings filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Enfants Riches Deprimes LLC and Alexander Henry Levy in California Central District Federal Court. The suit, brought by Baker & Hostetler, accuses the defendants of selling unauthorized merchandise and apparel containing the “Viper Room” mark and logo that the plaintiff uses in connection with the eponymous West Hollywood club. According to the complaint, the defendants’ counterfeit merchandise has been worn by multiple celebrities, including Kanye “Ye” West in recent television interviews. The case is Viper Room IP Holdings Inc. v. Enfants Riches Deprimes LLC, 2:22-cv-09078. … Venable filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Maryland District Federal Court targeting popular TikTok personality and social media influencer Katie Feeney. The suit was brought on behalf of talent management company Network Effect, which claims over $400,000 in damages due to Feeney’s alleged improper termination of her agreement. The case is The Network Effect LLC v. Feeney, 8:22-cv-03251. … Bobby Goldstein Productions, owned by the creator of the reality television show Cheaters, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against ION Media, E.W. Scripps and Katz Broadcasting in Texas Northern District Federal Court. The suit, filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Bragalone Olejko Saad, accuses the defendants of airing episodes of the show on ION Mystery on Internet TV platforms such as Roku, Freevee and Tubi without permission. The case is Bobby Goldstein Productions Inc. v. E.W. Scripps Co., 3:22-cv-02780. … Altice USA and CSC Holdings were hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit in Texas Eastern District Federal Court. The lawsuit was brought by the Davis Firm and Steptoe & Johnson on behalf of BMG Rights Management and other plaintiffs claiming that the defendants’ negligence allows online music piracy from third parties via the BitTorrent protocol. The case is BMG Rights Management (US) LLC v. Altice USA, Inc., 2:22-cv-00471. … Warner Bros. Discovery was hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit in Delaware District Federal Court in connection with the HGTV series Ugliest House in America, which features comedian and actress Retta from the comedy series Parks and Recreation. The case was filed by Richards, Layton & Finger and Holland & Knight on behalf of HomeVestors of America, which asserts its “We Buy Ugly Houses” mark. The case is HomeVestors of America Inc. v. Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., 1:22-cv-01583. … Rappers Jonathan Lyndale Kirk p/k/a “DaBaby” and Rodrick Wayne Moore Jr. p/k/a “Roddy Ricch” were hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit in Florida Southern District Federal Court. The suit, brought by Trueba & Suarez and the Law Office of Bradley J. Eiseman on behalf of Craig Mims p/k/a “JuJu Beatz,” accuses the defendants of unlawfully sampling the plaintiff’s music for their 2020 hit collaboration “Rockstar.” Various publishers are also named as defendants. The case is Mims v. Kirk, 2:22-cv-14410. … More than 200 media and news organizations were hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit in Missouri Western District Federal Court over a photograph of Katie Sowers, the NFL’s first openly gay and second full-time female coach. The complaint — almost 850 pages long and containing nearly 7,000 paragraphs of allegations — accuses the defendants of unlawfully reprinting a photo of Sowers on the San Francisco 49ers sideline. The suit was filed by McDowell Rice Smith & Buchanan on behalf of photographer Stephanie Campbell. The case is Campbell v. Gannett Media Corp., 4:22-cv-00811. … New York City graffiti artist Raul Torres a/k/a “Hektad” filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against HomeGoods and Usbepower in California Central Federal District Court. The suit, brought by the Erikson Law Group, accuses Usbepower of manufacturing a puzzle displaying Hektad’s “Love is Love” mural without authorization and selling the puzzle through HomeGoods. The case is Torres v. HomeGoods Inc., 2:22-cv-08896. … Ubisoft, video game developer known for titles such as Assassin’s Creed, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Illinois Northern Federal District Court over the alleged sale of counterfeit goods. The suit, filed by Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, pursues claims against unidentified online retailers. The case is Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. v. The Individuals, Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships and Unincorporated Associations Identified on Schedule A Hereto, 1:22-cv-06831. … Loeb & Loeb filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York Southern District Federal Court on behalf of Atticus LLC and involuntary party Aaron Sorkin, the production company and playwright responsible for the Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. The complaint pursues claims against Dramatic Publishing Company’s “erroneous” claim that the Sorkin adaptation cannot be staged by any regional, local, community theater or any other amateur groups as Dramatic Publishing holds exclusive rights to stage such productions. According to the suit, Dramatic Publishing’s exclusive rights were unequivocally terminated by Harper Lee in April 2011. The case is Atticus Limited Liability Co. v. The Dramatic Publishing Co., 1:22-cv-10147. … The Walt Disney Co. was hit with an antitrust class action in California Northern District Federal Court in connection with live TV streaming services. The suit, brought by Bathaee Dunn, is part of a string of cases accusing Disney of misusing its ownership of Hulu and ESPN to negotiate anticompetitive carriage agreements, allegedly causing the price of live TV streaming services to double above the market value. The case is Fendelander v. Walt Disney Co., 5:22-cv-07533. … Carlton Fields filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Florida Southern District Federal Court against Haute Agency Inc. and co-founder of the talent agency Chealse Sophia Howell. The court action, filed on behalf of musical artist James “Jeb” Carty, accuses the defendants of failing to arrange a nine-city European tour for the plaintiff per a booking agreement. The case is Carty v. Howell, 1:22-cv-23898. … CNN was slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit in California Central District Federal Court. The lawsuit was brought by King & Ballow on behalf of Freeplay Music, which accuses the defendants of infringing 115 copyrighted works. The case is Freeplay Music LLC v. Cable News Network Inc., 2:22-cv-08680. … Shutts & Bowen filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Florida Southern District Federal Court on behalf of Michael Turner p/k/a musical artist “PLVTINUM.” The suit targets Edgardo Cuevas Feliciano p/k/a “Lyanoo” and Rimas Entertainment over their 2019 single “Repeat,” which the plaintiff contends incorporates elements of his 2016 release “Champagne & Sunshine.” The case is Turner v. Feliciano, 1:22-cv-23785. … Davis Polk & Wardwell filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York Eastern District Federal Court on behalf of Matthew Pavich. The suit pursues claims against James Manzello for allegedly stealing all the profits and credit for Pavich and Manzello’s “Handsome Dancer” comedy duo’s hit parody song and video “Coincidance, Coincidance,” which is licensed for use by a Netflix film, the The Ellen DeGeneres Show and NBC’s the World of Dance. The case is Pavich v. Manzello, 1:22-cv-07022.
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By Stan Soocher
A current dispute over a band name that’s worth tracking is one between two founding members of “The Isley Brothers,” the legendary r&b group, that focuses on what happens to ownership of the band name rights when one member stops performing with the group but continues to be involved in its business affairs.
By Andrew Hope/Michael A. Mora
Over the past four years, the NCAA aggressively lobbied Congress to pass a uniform NIL standard. Roughly a dozen bills have been sponsored by Democrats and Republicans alike, though none has ever advanced to a vote. Consequently, it appears increasingly likely that the courts will be called upon once again to intervene.
By Robert W. Clarida and Thomas Kjellberg
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently upheld a final refusal by the U.S. Copyright Office to register a visual work that was “autonomously created by a computer algorithm running on a machine,” which the plaintiff called the Creativity Machine and identified as the “author” of the work.
By Entertainment Law & Finance Staff
A look at moves among attorneys, law firms, companies and other players in entertainment law.