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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
Disputes over film financing agreements are common, but there are few court decisions that address film financing dustups involving §10(b) of the federal Securities Exchange Act. Now the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has issued a ruling that addresses the pleading requirements for alleging a §10(b) violation, in litigation between an investor and a film production company.
By Michael S. Poster
The purpose of a Weinstein clause is to provide assurance that the target company (including its officers and executives) is not a hotbed of sexual harassment or a ticking time bomb of claims waiting to explode. This article on drafting and negotiating Weinstein clauses should help entertainment and media deal teams balance these risks.
By Scott Graham
There was much harmony along with a few discordant notes as an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took up the copyright case involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
By Michael F. Snyder
The ownership of intellectual property rights can be at the core of legal disputes involving pop culture icons. Considering the goodwill, effort and money spent in building a brand, character or commercial impression, it is not surprising that parties to intellectual property agreements find themselves revisiting their arrangements over time. That is what is happening in two recent federal lawsuits, one in New York involving a beloved figure in Philadelphia sports and the other in California focused on the Old Spice cologne commercial jingle.