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Orange County Business & Commercial Law Blog

Monster to 'face the music' over Beastie Boys flap

California based energy drink maker, Monster, has been embroiled in legal troubles stemming from accusations about the amount of caffeine in its drinks and how it reportedly has caused a number of deaths. Now it is fending off allegations that it used several recordings without permission in promoting an event.

According to a Bloomberg.com report, Capital Records, LLC and Universal-Polygram International Publishing Inc. are suing Monster over the drink maker’s alleged use of several Beastie Boys tracks in a video shown at a snowboarding event in 2012. The recording companies reportedly own the rights to the songs and claim that Monster did not seek their permission before using them to promote the event.

What is a trade secret?

Ever wondered what Apple does to make its products cool, even though it has competitors who essentially sell the same products? Ever wonder how McDonald's makes its fries so crispy and irresistible? What about the way Krispy Kreme doughnuts are made, or the special way that BMW cars hug the road?

If you had questions about what goes into these products (or how they are made), you are not alone. Yet, they all have a distinction that sets them apart. The recipes or makeup behind these unique identifiers are called trade secrets. 

Appellate court rules for Yelp over reviews placement dispute

In a prior post, we highlighted the possibility that businesses who received bad reviews on Yelp.com could sue customers who posted such reviews. We explored the threshold of proof a company would have to meet in order to be successful given that customers are free to make their feelings known about a company or its products in any way they choose, as long as they are not providing false information.

Yelp is in the news again because of how negative reviews were allegedly posted on some businesses’ profiles. Four different businesses brought suit against Yelp claiming that it extorted (or at least attempted to extort) larger advertising fees out of the companies by threatening to post negative reviews higher on a business’ profile page if it did not purchase a costlier advertising package. 

What are some common business torts to be aware of?

 To even the most sophisticated business person, a business tort is not a familiar term. They may even confuse it with a dessert. Unlike a pastry torte, a business tort can derail the progress of an emerging company and cost it a great deal of money in future losses. As such, businesses can be sued in California under several different claims.

This post will highlight a few of them.

How a 'naked' contestant is suing the 'pants' off a TV network

If you agree to appear on a show entitled “Dating Naked” chances are that you are going to be seen in your birthday suit at some point during the show. However, given that the show is not on a premium cable network (i.e. one that allows nudity) much of the naked body will be blurred out or pixilated.

Despite this, a model who appeared on the show is suing VH-1 for failing to keep her nudity concealed. She claims that she was “manipulated and lied to” when she was told that her private parts were going to be blurred for the show. It appears that an editing error may have led to her privates being seen during a segment of the show.

Did you hear the one about the monkey who sued over his selfie?

Have you heard the one about the monkey who took a selfie and tried to get a copyright? Or the one about the elephant who tried to protect the rights to his video that wound up going viral on YouTube?

No…these aren’t just intros to classic animal jokes. Rather, they are examples of the new limitations on who...or what, can obtain copyright protection under federal law.

The U.S. Copyright office recently released an update to its manual,the first in nearly 30 years, where it explains that the office will not register creative works produced by “nature, animals or plants.” 

Ruling against NCAA could change college sports

In what was described earlier this summer as the case that could fundamentally change the NCAA has come to an end…at least for now. A federal judge recently ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by denying college football and basketball players the right to sell the rights to their images and likenesses, essentially striking down long held regulations that prohibit college athletes from earning money other than scholarships and the cost of attending the schools they play for.

Online review policy garners considerable backlash

In a prior post, we explored the question of whether a company could bring suit against a consumer for negative reviews on social media sites such as Yelp.com or Facebook. The prevailing consensus is that a company could sue, but a consumer would have a genuine defense for being able to voice their personal opinions online based on their own experiences.

Indeed, creating false impressions based on bogus claims could possibly be actionable, but a company would likely see an avalanche of backlash should it attempt to silence a reviewer simply because of a bad review. 

LA Clippers sale imminent after probate court ruling

The legal drama surrounding the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appears to be winding down. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly who authorized the sale earlier this summer. Donald Sterling previously claimed that she defrauded him, and that she did not have the authority to go ahead with the sale. 

Former punter Chris Kluwe likely to bring discrimination lawsuit

When NFL training camps open this week, there will be some thousands of free agent players trying to win a spot on a team. While a relative few will make it, everyone relishes the opportunity. Unfortunately, one player will not get such a chance, even though he is healthy and talented enough to get on a team.

Punter Chris Kluwe last played for the Minnesota Vikings. His contract was not renewed after the 2012 season and has spent most of his time since then living in Southern California. While the official reason was that his numbers were not consistent enough, Kluwe believes that he was discriminated against because of his views on gay marriage. Kluwe was particularly outspoken in his beliefs before more than a dozen states allowed such marriages. 

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