By Dan Brillman
The execs at blockbuster app Snapchat are facing what is shaping up to be a very Winklevossian lawsuit (with Stanford playing the role of Harvard), according to TechCrunch. Snapchat, an application that allows users to send a picture that disappears after no more than 10 seconds, has reached a volume of around 50 million pictures per day since its launch in July 2011, and shows no signs of slowing down. (Its popularity is purportedly due to the ease of sexting, but the company denies that.)
Frank Reginald Brown was classmates with Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy at Stanford when he claims he approached them with the idea for the app. The suit says they agreed that it was a “million-dollar idea” and the three worked together to get it off the ground. In late summer 2011, (the app was then called Picaboo, a name Brown said he conceived), an undisclosed disagreement led to the defendants changing the passwords on the servers and eventually hiring Cooley as counsel, according to the complaint.
Ultimately Brown says the rejection breached an agreement that the three would equally split ownership of the company and deprived Brown of “future proceeds therefrom.”
In response, the company released a statement denying the allegations: “We are aware of the allegations, believe them to be utterly devoid of merit, and will vigorously defend ourselves against this frivolous suit. It would be inappropriate to comment further on this pending legal matter.”
Business Insider recently called the app “a threat to Facebook” and “2013’s most likely billion dollar startup.” Auditions for the movie, then, in 2014?
By Caitlin Tremblay
Former “American Idol” contestant Chris Daughtry must face a lawsuit brought by three former bandmates, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. A federal judge refused to toss out the case, which accuses the singer of “constructive fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, unfair trade practices and other deceptive and wrongful conduct.”
Ryan Andrews, Scott Crawford and Mark Perry filed the lawsuit against Daughtry in April, claiming lyrics and music on the songs “Breakdown,” “Gone” and “You Don’t Belong” come from an album they recorded in 2005, when they were called Absent Element and before Daughtry gained “Idol” fame. Perry also claims that he was consulted while Daughtry was writing his chart-topper “Home.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder sent the case back to Guilford County Superior Court, where it was originally filed, because it was based on the parties’ fiduciary relationship and not on copyright issues, meaning it’s not a federal case. Daughtry’s lawyers had argued that it was a copyright case.
The musicians say they haven’t gotten any royalties for their work on the songs.
Bad Mr. Goodbar
By Anna Louie Sussman
An Alabama Walmart employee is suing her employer and
Hershey’s company after eating a moldy, past-its-prime Mr. Goodbar on her break
in February 2011, news site AL.com
The candy bar, which plaintiff
Terrica Brown bought at the store where she worked,
was nine months past its expiration date, but she said
in the suit filed in Madison County Circuit Court
that she did not know it had a sell-by date. Brown
alleges “negligence, wantonness and breach of contract,
among other claims, for allowing the
product to remain on the shelf and creating an unsafe condition and offering it
for sale,” AL.com reports.
Brown became “violently sick to her stomach”
and had to go to the hospital for treatment. She claims the candy bar was
contaminated with mold.
According the lawsuit, she is seeking
unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and related costs for the
injuries she suffered to her stomach and intestinal tract, as well as for medical expenses, lost wages, and her pain and
mental anguish, AL.com reports.
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
“You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.”
Those were the opening lines of an opinion issued by Chief Judge Kozinksi of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Feb. 25 reversed a lower court decision and ruled that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the anti-whaling group, was a “pirate” (hat-tip: Lawfare Blog).
In December 2011 the Institute of Cetacean Research, a Japanese whaling group, accused Sea Shepherd, a ship founded by environmentalist Paul Watson, of piracy and filed a lawsuit under the Alien Tort Statute. It asked a federal judge in Seattle to freeze the assets of the group and grant an injunction barring the environmentalists from "violently and dangerously attacking" ships engaged in "research whaling."
While commercial whaling is banned by the International Whaling Commission, the Japanese government had granted the institute permission to kill whales for scientific research. Sea Shepherd’s alleged practices of aggressively trying to halt whaling constituted piracy under customary international law, according to the institute. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones sided with the environmentalists and dismissed claims of piracy, holding that the protesters’ tactics were nonviolent, as they targeted equipment and ships rather than people, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit unanimously reversed Jones’s order, ruling that it was a product of an “erroneous interpretation” of piracy laws. "Ramming ships, fouling propellers and hurling fiery and acid-filled projectiles easily qualify as violent activities, even if they could somehow be directed only at inanimate objects,” Kozinski wrote.
By Anna Louie Sussman
The 1970s rock band Styx is suing its label, A&M
Records, for royalties on music technologies that were still
like science fiction when the band
first started recording, the
Digital downloads and cellphone ringtones generate revenues
for record companies, but they aren’t necessarily
shared with artists. Styx claimsA&M created a “phony business model,” allowing the
company to cheat the band out of royalties, which could be anywhere from
two to five times the royalties it did
Styx’s is the latest in a series
of lawsuits over royalties for digital downloads and ringtones. According to The New York Times, artists ranging from Kenny
Rogers to the Temptations and Weird Al Yankovic have sued for digital
“Like other recently filed royalty lawsuits, Styx
focuses much of its efforts on examining digital downloads and ringtone
rights,” the Inquistr reports. “The band is suing for unspecified damages - to be proven at trial - which likely means even the band members are
uncertain of exactly how much cash A&M Records stole from them.”
“This lawsuit will be closely watched by music
industry executives. In recent years, the growing popularity of Apple’s iTunes, Amazon’s
MP3 store, and streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora have led artists to question how
much of the profit from their songs they are receiving,” the Inquisitr writes.
By Dan Brillman
In Robert Bork's posthumous book, "Saving Justice," the
former solicitor general and Supreme Court nominee says that he
was promised a seat on the high court in exchange for firing
Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973, in what came
to be known as the "Saturday Night Massacre."
As the Associated Press reports (hat tip: ABA Journal), Cox
was in former president Richard Nixon's crosshairs for issuing a
subpoena for White House tapes related to the Watergate coverup.
The then attorney general, Eliot Richardson, and his No. 2,
William Ruckelshaus, both refused to fire Cox (Richardson
subsequently resigned and Ruckelshaus was fired), so the task
then fell to Bork, as solicitor general. Bork writes that Nixon
promised him the next nomination as a reward, but that it was
unclear to him if the president even knew whether he would get
the chance, as his presidency was beginning to collapse.
Bork did get his shot at the bench 13 years later, of
course, but was rejected after a famously contentious
Summary Judgments for February 27
Summary Judgments for February 26
Summary Judgments for February 25
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