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In a unanimous decision released yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the National Football League (NFL) is not immune from antitrust laws and should be considered an umbrella organization consisting of thirty-two separate teams rather than a single entity. The Court’s ruling will allow an antitrust lawsuit filed against the NFL by American Needle — a clothing manufacturer — to move forward. Writing for the Court, Justice Stevens stated that “[d]ecisions by NFL teams to license their separately owned trademarks . . . to only one vendor are decisions that deprive the marketplace of . . . actual or potential competition.”

American Needle filed the suit after it was prohibited from continuing to produce branded clothing for NFL teams following the NFL’s execution of a ten-year exclusive licensing agreement with Reebok. Should American Needle ultimately prevail, the structure of NFL license schemes will change dramatically and individual teams will be permitted to negotiate their own license deals.  For this reason, the decision may likego down as one of the landmark sports law and licensing decisions of the past few decades.

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If you were concerned about Facebook, wait until you hear about Unvarnished., which just launched in beta, has been described as a website wherein Yelp meets LinkedIn. 
The site with the tag “truth in reputation” allows users to create profiles and rate other users in the hopes of revealing the truth about the individual. However, the social networking site has been severely criticized for having little to no security controls. Specifically, the site only verifies a user’s identity through Facebook to insure that he/she is not a minor and then proves the user with carte blanche to create profiles and rate individuals anonymously. And since the purpose of the “reviews” is to reveal who an individual “really is” the user, who is being rated, is unable to delete and/or vote on negative posts about himself/herself.
Supporters of the site have said that the truth will bear out and that users can have their friends post positive comments that will offset any erroneous or negative comments. The co-founder of the site even insists that it will not turn into a burn book but rather an opportunity for people to see what others really think of them. Time will tell if Unvarnished becomes a useful social networking site or the perfect platform for defamation. Either way, the sites very existence continues to expand the private/public distinction and limits the scope of personal privacy.  Not surprisingly, like Facebook, My Space, Twitter and Yelp it is one more site that may require legal monitoring.


At first I was reluctant to write yet another blog entry on Facebook, but after noticing that more than fifty percent of my Facebook friends are complaining about the new privacy policy in their status I decided that non-Facebook users might want to know what all the cyber chatter is about. As you will recall, it was forecasted some months ago in Wired Magazine that Facebook would eventually harness its users’ information and offer the same to search engines. Following the article, Facebook changed its default privacy setting to allow advertisers to use their users’ pictures. The change resulted in many Facebook users logging in to alter the default setting. Now there are more changes to your Facebook default settings which the New York Times cleverly placed in a chart to make sense of the privacy mess. 
I took a few a minutes to change my default settings but according to Facebook I am in the minority. However given the length of the new policy, I think it’s safe to predict that sooner rather than later someone will challenge Facebook’s new policy and sue them for Copyright infringement and/or Right of Publicity. And while Facebook claims that users acquiesce to the policy by using the service, as the policy gets longer and more complicated, Facebook’s ability to prove consent in court gets more and more difficult.
Till then I am, as Facebook put it when I changed the default setting, happy to decline the many benefits of the “New Facebook Experience.”


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has prevailed in its copyright infringement lawsuit against LimeWire, one of the largest remaining commercial peer-to-peer services. The Court ruled that LimeWire was liable for copyright infringement because its users commit a “substantial amount of copyright infringement” and the company behind the software “has not taken meaningful steps to mitigate infringement.”

RIAA has alleged that at least 93 percent of LimeWire’s file sharing traffic was unauthorized copyrighted material. The RIAA is seeking up to $150,000 per violation, although the final damages have not yet been determined.

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On April 6, 2010, the District of Delaware ruled in favor of defendant Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. in a false advertising action brought by Pernod Ricard USA LLC. This was the latest development in a lengthy dispute over the right to use “HAVANA CLUB” on rum, in the United States.
In finding that Bacardi U.S.A.’s rum labels were neither false nor misleading, the Court pointed to two alternative interpretations regarding the scope of “geographical origin” as used in Lanham Act Section 43(a)(1)(B). One interpretation was that “geographical origin” would implicate the place of manufacture. A broader interpretation would take “geographical origin” to encompass the source of a product’s heritage or some aspect of a product’s history. The Court indicated that it reached the same result under both alternatives, due to the prominent display of the actual place of manufacture (Puerto Rico) on the labels as well as a clear demonstration of the product’s Cuban heritage (Bacardi was originally a Cuban company, and the recipe for its Havana Club rum was derived primarily from a historically Cuban recipe).


On remand from the Federal Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas based a damages award for false patent marking on the highest selling price of the falsely marked products.

In Forest Group Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41291 (S.D. Tex. Apr. 27, 2010), the Court found “the appropriate fine in this case is $180.00 per article, the highest point of the [sales] price range. This will deprive Forest of more than it received for the falsely marked stilts, fulfilling the deterrent goal of §292’s fine provision.” (emphasis added).