16 Casa Duse, LLC v. Merkin

The defendant appeals from a September 27, 2013, judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Richard J. Sullivan, Judge) granting summary judgment to the plaintiff on its copyright and state‐law claims related to a film entitled Heads Up, dismissing the defendantʹs counterclaims, and awarding the plaintiff costs and attorneyʹs fees.  Because we agree that the plaintiff owns the relevant copyright interests, we conclude that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the plaintiff on its copyright claims and properly enjoined the defendant from interfering with the plaintiffʹs use of the work in question.  We conclude, though, that the defendant, not the plaintiff, was entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiffʹs claim for tortious interference with business relations under New York law.  The judgment of the district court is therefore:  

AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

Download 16 Casa Duse, LLC v. Merkin


n 2009, Paula Petrella filed an action for copyright infringement, unjust enrichment and accounting against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment, LLC; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment Distribution Corporation; United Artists Corporation; and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (“the defendants”). According to Petrella, the defendants infringed her purported interest in a book and two screenplays that together allegedly formed the basis for the 1980 motion picture Raging Bull. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, holding that Petrella’s claims are barred by the equitable defense of laches. The district court also denied the defendants’ motions for sanctions and attorney’s fees. We affirm.


Lionsgate Defeats '50/50' Trademark Lawsuit

A music label says it had "50/50" first. A judge watches the movie and says it doesn't matter.

by Eriq Gardner

Lionsgate, its Summit Entertainment division and Mandate Pictures have prevailed against a music label that alleged the film 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, infringed a trademark.

In a federal suit filed last year in Illinois, Eastland Music Group said it had been using the 50/50 mark since 2000 in connection with entertainment services and products. Lionsgate's plans to release the film on DVD were claimed to be threatening its own products by confusing consumers, harming recognition and damaging goodwill. The music label wanted an injunction to stop the film's release.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge George Lindberg accepted defendants' motion to dismiss the trademark claims.

Full story.

Fox Stands Trial in $10 Million 'Napoleon Dynamite' Case

The outcome of a dispute over home video revenue depends on how a judge reads a contract negotiated at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

9:13 AM PDT 6/19/2012 by Eriq Gardner

A trial is underway in a case that will determine whether Fox Searchlight shortchanged producers of the hit 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite.

Napoleon Pictures, the production company behind the film, filed a lawsuit against Fox in August that claimed it is owed $10 million for allegedly underreported royalties and improper revenue deductions from the indie comedy that grossed $44.5 million domestic. Last month, a judge rejected Fox's attempt to defeat the lawsuit on summary judgment, setting the stage for a trial by judge that will determine exactly what was negotiated when the studio acquired rights to the picture in a bidding war at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

Full story.

'Christmas Story' Actor Drops Lawsuit Against Warner Bros.

The Farkus bully in the movie sued over figurines that allegedly showed his face.

by Eriq Gardner

Christmas has come and gone, and so too has the lawsuit against Warner Bros. by the actor who played Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story.

In August, Zack Ward sued the studio, claiming that his likeness was misappropriated in the sale of figurines. This past week, the parties found a way to start the new year in peace. According to court documents, the lawsuit has been dismissed by the mutual consent of the parties.

Ward was 12 years old when he played Farkus, best remembered as the bully who threw snowballs and then got his comeuppance.

Unlike the other actors in the film, Farkus said he was the only one whose contract didn't contain a rider that allowed the production company to use the actor's likeness in consumer merchandise.

This became troubling to Ward when he found out about a set of figurines featuring some of the characters in poses from the film. The Farkus character was, of course, throwing a snowball.

Full story.

Warner Bros. Sued by Louis Vuitton Over 'Hangover II' Handbag

by Matthew Belloni

The Hangover Part II is making a strong case for being named most-litigated movie of 2011. Even as Warner Bros. has moved in recent weeks to settle a rash of litigation stemming from the blockbuster comedy sequel, a new lawsuit has been filed over a handbag featured in the film.

Luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton filed suit in federal court in New York on Thursday alleging that a handbag featured in the movie is a fakery. In the scene, the character played by Zach Galifianakis carries a bag marked LVM and admonishes another character: “Careful, that is.. that is a Louis Vuitton.”

Full story.

Narendra on being a Wildcat, The Social Network and his suit against Facebook

By Katherine Zhu

In The Social Network, Divya Narendra is that other guy — in cahoots with the “Winklevi twins” and Harvard Connection. At Northwestern, though, Narendra is a Kellogg JD-MBA student.

Seven years ago, Narendra conceived the idea for social network ConnectU with his roommates at Harvard. In 2004, the ConnectU trio — Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss — sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, claiming he stole their idea and their source code. They settled in 2008 for a reported $65 million. The dispute flared up again in May 2010, as Narendra and the Winklevosses leveled allegations of securities fraud against Facebook. And the feud goes on.

We reached Narendra by email last week and chatted with him about his portrayal in The Social Network, his time at Northwestern so far and his dreams of becoming a rock star.

Full story.

'Hollywood Accounting' Losing In The Courts

If you follow the entertainment business at all, you're probably well aware of "Hollywood accounting," whereby very, very, very few entertainment products are technically "profitable," even as they earn studios millions of dollars. A couple months ago, the Planet Money folks did a great episode explaining how this works in very simple terms. The really, really, really simplified version is that Hollywood sets up a separate corporation for each movie with the intent that this corporation will take on losses. The studio then charges the "film corporation" a huge fee (which creates a large part of the "expense" that leads to the loss). The end result is that the studio still rakes in the cash, but for accounting purposes the film is a money "loser" -- which matters quite a bit for anyone who is supposed to get a cut of any profits.

Full story.