Category Archives: Lawsuit
Batsman v Batman: Judge rules that company can’t use name for cricket goods as the public would confuse it with the superhero
But a company has been told that it cannot brand its products with the name Batsman as the public will become confused and liken it to Batman.
Intellectual Property Office adjudicator Oliver Morris refused to grant a trademark for the name to London-based Adelphoi, a sound and design company.
Adelphoi had sought to secure the Batsman trademark for exclusive exploitation across a huge range of goods, the majority of which were cricket-related.
But Mr Morris ruled in favour of DC Comics, the US entertainment giants behind the famous superhero who own the Batman trademark.
In his ruling, the judge accepted that ‘Batman is a very well known comic book character’ pointing to evidence that Batman was first invented in 1939.
Despite accepting that there is a ‘conceptual dissonance’ between Batman and Batsman, described as ‘a type of cricketer or an aircraft safety officer’, he found that the two words ‘may easily be mistaken for one another’.
Mr Morris added: ‘The marks look (and sound) so close that the difference in concept is likely to go unnoticed.
‘If the difference goes unnoticed then the conceptual difference has no material effect. There is a likelihood of confusion.’
The judge said that there was a likelihood of confusion even in the context of cricket related goods.
The hearing heard that the degree to which the average consumer considers purchases meant that the difference in concept would not readily leap out.
Mr Morris said that DC Comics relied on its European trademark in relation to comics, films, television programmes and ‘a wide variety of merchandise’.
He added that the evidence showed there was also a comic book character called ‘Batsman’, who, he said, is ‘apparently the disembodied consciousness of a future Batman’.
However, the judge found that this had no significance in his decision.
Batman has appeared in thousands of comic books, with global sales ranging from around $6 million (33.9million) to $12 million (£7.9million) per year between 2001 and 2007.
Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale, grossed over £30million in the UK and its sequel, The Dark Knight sold more than 2.5million copies on Blu-ray and DVD by December 2008.
Mr Morris also detailed almost $20million (£13.1million) in merchandising sales in the UK between 1998 and 2011.
However, he declined to order Adelphoi to pay DC’s legal costs, finding that DC’s lawyers could have been ‘more measured in their approach’.
Katie Simpson bought frozen pizzas about five times in the past year, including a California Pizza Kitchen Personal Pizza Barbeque Chicken and the same maker’s Crispy Thin Crust Pizza Signature Pepperoni.
But when she learned they contained trans fat—an ingredient linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer—she felt as if she were sold poison.
That’s the argument being made in a $5 million federal class-action lawsuit that claims Nestle—makers of DiGiorno, Stouffer’s and California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas —is “placing profits over public health” by failing to remove trans fat.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego on behalf of Simpson, a mother of two young children. Her address isn’t given, but she lives in San Diego County.
“The most frequent of Ms. Simpson’s purchases of Nestle Trans Fat Pizzas were at the Target located at 2911 Jamacha Road” near Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, said the suit [attached as a PDF].
The lawsuit says the frozen pizzas in question shouldn’t contain a toxic food additive banned all over the world, said Greg Weston, an attorney for the plaintiff.
California has banned trans fat in foods served in local restaurants, but no bans on trans fat exist for packaged foods. The cities of New York and Philadelphia are among local governments that have enacted bans against trans fat in restaurant food.
Weston said the suit seeks all monies Nestle has ever made from frozen pizzas.
In a statement, Nestle said it will vigorously defend itself against all “baseless allegations,’’ saying its pizza products are in strict compliance with FDA and USDA regulations.
According to California Pizza Kitchen, the case applies only to frozen pizzas, not to restaurants bearing that name.
No hearing date has been set in the case, which has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino. No jury trial has been demanded.
“Although there are safe, low-cost and commercially acceptable alternatives to trans fat, including those used in competing brands and even in a few Nestle and CPK products, defendants unfairly elect not to use those substitutes in the Nestle Trans Fat Pizzas in order to increase profit at the expense of consumer health,” says the 23-page suit.
The suit targets partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or PHVO, which it says is the main source of trans fat in the American diet and “used in dangerous quantities in the Nestle Trans Fat Pizzas.”
PHVO, invented in 1901 and patented in 1902 by German chemist Wilhelm, was initially a “wonder product” attractive to the packaged food industry “because it combines the low cost of unsaturated … fat with the flexibility and long shelf life of saturated fat,” the suit says.
“Given its toxic properties, few food companies continue to use PHVO,” the suit says. “Defendants, however, have decided not to follow their more responsible peers and cease using PHVO, instead placing profits over public health and deliberately poisoning their consumers.”
The suit cites research that PHVO causes cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and accelerates cognitive decline in diabetics.
In 2008, California became the first state to ban all restaurant food with artificial trans fat, a law affecting about 88,000 eating establishments, the suit said.
“Trans fats now may not be served in California’s schools or restaurants in an amount greater than half a gram per serving,” the suit says.
Family sue for $250m after New York cops handcuff and interrogate boy, seven, for hours over ‘$5 stolen from fellow student’
Failed relationships can get ugly,” says Ji Lin at the Irish Examiner, but the weird, sad tale of Jian Feng and his wife “really gives meaning to the old cliché.” The story starts out conventionally enough: Feng, a resident of northern China, met and married a beautiful woman, and they had a baby girl. That’s when things reportedly got, um, ugly. Feng was “so sure of his own good looks, so crushed by the wrinkly ugly mess that was handed to him in a swaddle, that he decided to sue his wife because the awful looking baby was totally her fault,” says Madeline Holler at Babble. And then things went from ugly to crazy: He won. Here’s what you should know:
How was the ugly baby the mom’s fault? Since the baby didn’t look like either parent, Feng accused his wife of infidelity — “because jumping to conclusions about your wife’s faithfulness is the obvious thing to do when you have an ugly baby,” says Sam Smith at Planet Ivy. After a DNA test proved that the baby is, in fact Feng’s, the wife came clean on her little secret: Before they had met, she had undergone about $100,000 worth of cosmetic surgery in South Korea. And unverified before-and-after photos circulating on Western and Chinese blogs do show a marked improvement in looks after the women went under the knife.
On what grounds did he sue? False pretenses — Feng claimed that his wife misled him by not telling him about her plastic surgery before they wed. “I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues,” he reportedly said. “Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me.” A judge agreed, and ordered the wife to fork over $120,000. Ugh, says Babble‘s Holler. The wife “should probably file her own lawsuit for even more damages from having married Feng under the false pretense that he wasn’t a shitty husband and father.”
Who’s the biggest loser here? Well, “it’s usually the victim of court cases that you’re supposed to feel sorry for,” says Planet Ivy‘s Smith, but who wants to give emotional succor to a “man who is angry at his beautiful wife for being ugly at some point in her life.” The wife obviously has to pay a huge amount of money, and got publicly humiliated in the process, but at least she’s free of an obviously odious husband. So “if you’re going to feel sorry for anyone, feel sorry for their child, who will forever be known as the baby that broke her parent’s marriage — with her face.”
A DISABLED man with a liking for pornography took the police to court to demand they return his huge collection of explicit adult movies.
Police arrested Anthony Gerrard, right, three times on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children, seizing six PCs and laptops
Anthony Gerrard took the police to court for not returning his pornography- laden computers
Although 11 illegal pictures were found on four hard drives, they had been downloaded automatically to parts of the computers Mr Gerrard could not have accessed without specialist tools or techniques.
Not pressing any charges, officers returned two of the computers but kept the ones containing child pornography and took Mr Gerrard to court for the forfeiture and destruction of the hard drives.
Last July, District Judge David Parsons found in the police’s favour, but Mr Gerrard, 59, appealed in a bid to get his computers – containing 888GB of adult movies and thousands (2.5GB) of adult pornographic images – back.
Police are not allowed to return hard drives with child pornography on them, because they would then be distributing illegal material.
Mr Gerrard, of Broadfield Road, Knowle, argued they could have deleted the child pornography or transferred them to another device and given him the adult images back.
Explaining to The Post what he wanted, Mr Gerrard said: “If they gave me my computers back, instead of searching the internet I could just search my own computers. I wouldn’t have time to search the internet.
“I paid £40 for a month’s subscription to a website and I was downloading films from it day and night. I wanted to get my money’s worth.
“I’m not interested in child porn. I don’t think it’s fair they are keeping my computers when I haven’t done anything illegal.
“They cost me a couple of thousand pounds in total. Every time the police took two computers away, I would buy another two.”
Mr Gerrard, who has been married four times and is estranged from his son, added: “The good thing about having a computer is you can switch it off when you’ve finished – you can’t switch off a wife.”
At the appeal hearing, Judge Julian Lambert, sitting with magistrates Simon Brookes and Chris Barke, found in favour of the police and dismissed Mr Gerrard’s appeal.
The law states that if it is not “practicable” to separate offending images from where they are stored, the item should be forfeited to the police.
Digital evidence recovery officer Scott Eggins told the court: “Deletion in a computer sense is a very complicated matter. There is no such thing as a permanent deletion on computers unfortunately – or fortunately. There is no way of permanently deleting it, short of putting it through a shredder.”
The officer who arrested Mr Gerrard, PC Ben Jefferies, said: “The vast proportion of images that were recovered from Mr Gerrard’s PC were adult in nature. The pornography that he had searched for was all adult.
“The 11 (child porn) images had been downloaded unwittingly, probably.”
The police said, due to the amount of legal pornography Mr Gerrard possessed, it could take days to transfer it to an external hard drive, which could cost up to £100 for a drive, plus police time. Mr Gerrard declined to provide them with a new hard drive.
When asked how he could afford so many computers, he said he paid for them out of his disability benefits.
The 59-year-old was paralysed after breaking his neck in an accident at home, but has now recovered enough to walk with an aid.
After viewing the questionable images, Judge Lambert and the justices ruled that, on the balance of probabilities, the images were “indecent” and showed eight girls and three boys under 18.
Mr Gerrard, who said he only had £100 in savings, was ordered to pay £1,533 costs.
Judge Lambert said: “We see no way, on the evidence in front of us, that the hard drives could be returned to the appellant with the images deleted so that they cannot be recovered.”
After the case, Mr Gerrard said: “If they had just been able to delete the images and give me my computers back it would’ve saved a lot of court time and money. I’m gutted, but I’ve had my day in court and I thought the judge was very fair.”
More than two-dozen Texan women are on the verge of suing a ‘revenge porn’ website that has allowed their former flames to post racy photos of them, along with their personal information, on the Internet without their permission.
In some cases the women don’t even know how the site, Texxxan.com, which is hosted by GoDaddy.com, got its hands on the revealing pictures.
The site had been allowing people to anonymously assemble photo galleries of formerly private images accompanied by victims’ names, home and email addresses, and other biographical information.
Some of the photos had been of underage girls, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Hollie Toups, left, said her ex-boyfriend posted semi-nude photos of her on the website Texxxan.com, which was recently taken down and is facing a class-action suit. Marianna Taschinger, right, was another of the ‘revenge porn’ site’s victims
One of the site’s victims, 27-year-old expecting mom Kelly Hinson, told the Chronicle that last week she was shopping at a Walmart when a man walked up to her and said, ‘You’re Kelly, right?’ and then went on to explain how he had saved pictures of her, which were taken by her late ex-boyfriend, onto his computer.
‘I literally ran off. I ran off,’ Hinson told the paper.
She was quoted saying that people on the site were anonymously posting where she lives and were making chilling statements, including one suggestion that she abort her unborn child ‘with a rusty coat hanger.’
Marianna Taschinger told ABC News that a man she had been dating for a few months posted private photos of her on Texxxan.com and referred to her as ‘one of my exploits’
Hinson reportedly went to the police and to two lawyers for help, but her complaints were not taken seriously and she was told nothing could be done.
Another victim, Hollie Toups, told reporters the site contained semi-nude photos of her that she had sent to an ex-boyfriend, but she also uncovered self-portraits she had taken just to monitor her progress from an exercise regimen.
Hinson and Toups are among the more than two-dozen women named as plaintiffs in a petition for damages and class-action certification filed last week in district court in Orange County, Texas.
In the documents, reviewed by MailOnline, attorney John S. Morgan accuses Texxxan.com of existing ‘to cause severe embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress’ to the women who have unwittingly had their pictures posted on it.
The ‘revenge porn’ website Texxxan.com is on the cusp of being sued for invasion of privacy
He charged that the the site’s administrators and subscribers ‘are all acting in a deliberately reprehensible manner to participate in activity that they know to be malicious.’
A day after the threat of litigation – claiming Texxxan.com had committed invasion of privacy — was made, the site stopped allowing anyone trolling the Internet to view the galleries, rate women, and post anonymous remarks.
Only paying subscribers, who are also named as defendants in the victims’ legal filings, could gain access. But the plaintiffs are still concerned that the photos could turn up elsewhere on the Web.
Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the University of Maryland, told Forbes Magazine that, by posting someone’s home address along with x-rated photos, these types of websites could be feeding cyber stalkers and helping them track down their victims, which could open the sites up to criminal charges, as well.
A potentially perfect match almost cost Mary Kay Beckman her life.
FOX 5 KVVU reports that Beckman, of Las Vegas, is suing Match.com for $10 million, alleging that the dating website doesn’t do enough to keep violent offenders off its site after she met a man who attempted to kill her.
“He broke into my garage,” Beckman told the station. “When the police arrested him, he said he wasn’t there to hurt me. He was there to kill me. His intent was to kill me that night.”
Beckman said she had been using Match.com for two months when she met Wade Ridley in September 2010. After just eight days, Beckman ended the relationship, causing Ridley to turn violent. Later, in 2011, Ridley stabbed her 10 times with a butcher knife and stomped on her head when the knife broke.
The 50-year-old real estate agent and mother of two said the attack left her hospitalized for months. She endured three head surgeries and a seizure. While she was in the hospital, Beckman said Ridley killed an Arizona woman he met on the same website.
“I struggled a lot thinking why did she die and why did I live,” said Beckman, adding that Ridley came looking for her but authorities arrested him. Ridley later committed suicide in jail.
Beckman, meanwhile, is now pushing for a disclaimer on Match.com similar warnings on cigarettes.
“They don’t say one in five are part of an attempted murder or one in five are killed,” said Beckman. “They don’t tell you people are missing.”
In a statement, Match.com characterized Beckman’s statement as “absurd.”
“The many millions of people who have found love on Match.com and other online dating sites know how fulfilling it is,” the statement read. “And while that doesn’t make what happened in this case any less awful, this is about a sick, twisted individual with no prior criminal record, not an entire community of men and women looking to meet each other.”
A Port Macquarie surgeon is suing Google for defamation over an auto-complete search suggestion that he believes has cost him clients.
Google has been involved in several lawsuits around the world in the past year revolving around its autocomplete suggestions and has increasingly been held responsible for content on its search pages.
The suit, filed by Dr Guy Hingston in the US district court in California, claims that when you type “Guy Hin …” into Google the words “Guy Hingston bankrupt” appear in the auto-complete. He claims this is defamatory as he is not bankrupt.
Dr Guy Hingston … suing Google for defamation. Photo: Port Macquarie News/Peter Gleeso
Dr Hingston’s Australian lawyers Beazley Singleton had written to Google Australia in December threatening legal action. The firm wrote Dr Hingston had “lost a number of patients and financiers [who] are refusing to deal with our client as a consequence of the reference on google which is associated with his name”. <iframe id="dcAd-1-4" src="http://ad-apac.doubleclick.net/adi/onl.smh.tech/tech/technews;ctype=article;cat1=technews;cat=tech;pos=3;sz=300×250;tile=4;ord=4.6036971E7?" width='300' height='250' scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0"
The complaint, seen by Fairfax Media, claims Dr Hingston’s career as a breast surgeon depended on maintaining a good reputation which had been damaged after Google had shown him in a “false light”. He is seeking at least $75,000 in damages plus court costs for the “significant harm and economic loss” caused by the matter.
According to a Port Macquarie News report from January 2009, an aviation group owned by Dr Hingston, CoastJet, closed its doors and went into administration two-and-a-half years after he bought it. He told the paper the main reason for CoastJet’s demise — which reportedly resulted in the loss of 30 jobs — was the loss of a $2.8 million deposit on two new jets when American company Eclipse Aviation went into bankruptcy.
An April 2009 Port Macquarie News report said CoastJet, loaded with debt, was being bailed out by a Chinese billionaire. On Tuesday a phone number listed online for CoastJet was disconnected.
Separate documents obtained from Insolvency Trustee Services Australia show Dr Hingston was bankrupted on August 4 2009.
Dr Hingston’s lawyer Philip Beazley said that bankruptcy had been annulled. He also confirmed the reported facts surrounding the collapse of CoastJet, saying it was designed to be a community ambulance service.
Google declined to comment on the case.
Through his lawyer, Dr Hingston said he did not think it would be appropriate to comment further whilst the matter was before the US courts.
Dr Hingston’s website DrGuy.com.au describes him as a “cancer surgeon, author & speaker” and he sells men and women’s health books on his website which he describes as a “service manual for life”.
In October last year a jury in Australia found Google liable for $200,000 in damages after a complaint that its search results linked 62-year-old Melbourne man Milorad Trkulja to gangland crime. He had previously won a similar case against Yahoo.
Last year former German first lady Bettina Wulff sued Google over the autocomplete phrases “Bettina Wulff prostitute” and “Bettina Wulff escort”. The case has yet to be resolved.
Google was ordered by a Tokyo court in March last year to disable certain autocomplete results related to a Japanese man which linked his name with a series of crimes. His lawyer had said he lost his job and had been rejected for others he’d applied for as a result of the autocomplete issue.
In January last year a French court fined Google $65,000 because the search engine’s autocomplete function prompted the French word for “crook” when users typed the name of an insurance company.
Google writes on its website that autocomplete results are “a reflection of the search activity of all web users and the content of web pages indexed by Google”.
Leanne O’Donnell, senior associate with Herbert Geer in Melbourne said Google’s defence would likely be that the autocomplete results are automated and it does not control them.
She said the Trkulja case in Australia “opened the door” to Google being held responsible for the contents of its search pages but the Hingston case would be a “test case” in the US, where courts may be more “reticent to interfere”, in part because of greater protection of free speech.
In another case, the ACCC has alleged before the High Court that Google should be held responsible for its AdWords. A decision in this matter is expected in February.
“Normally [Google] would try to say ‘we don’t publish it, it’s just an automatic algorithm it’s not like a newspaper publishing a column’, but that’s something that the courts are now examining in more depth,” O’Donnell said.
Several San Antonio strip clubs today filed a federal lawsuit against the City of San Antonio, claiming that the new restrictions placed on sexually oriented businesses by City Council last month amount to unconstitutional restrictions on free speech.
“For many years now, the Supreme Court has found that exotic dances is protected by the first amendment,” Attorney Luke Lirot tells 1200 WOAI’s Micahel Board.
City Council tightened up restrictions on who qualifies as a sexually oriented business, how much skin must be covered up, and tightened zoning regulations for the operations.
“Such enforcement eliminates, prevents, chills and or discourages and ultimately totally restrains Plaintiffs from owning, operating and participating in the presentation of constitutionally protected free speech in the form of dance performances, now arbitrarily banned in San Antonio,” the lawsuit reads.
The seven topless clubs which filed the lawsuit claim that ‘the presentation of expressive dance performances is a beneficial social activity which creates an improved self image for the dancer and joy and entertainment for the beholder. The plaintiffs consider the appreciation of the human body, an integral component of the exotic dance performances described herein, which exhibit the socially accepted and or popular contemporary concepts of physical ability and attractiveness a socially fulfilling experience for both performers and patrons.’
The lawsuit also challenges the basic premise of the new regulations, that they were needed because sexually oriented businesses increase crime and reduce property values.
“The operation of the businesses has not caused decreases in property values, increases in criminal activity, or the acceleration of urban blight.”
The law is also challenged as being discriminatory to immigrants, because a person is required to show ‘a valid and lawful photographic identification card that was issued by a governmental authority of the United States,’ meaning foreign residents are barred from the industry.
The lawsuit demands that the new regulations be thrown out, and the strip clubs be awarded damages ‘for the deprivation of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment’ in an amount to be determined by the court.
A German man whose parrots dropped dead is taking an oven-drip tray manufacturer to court, as he believes teflon fumes from the pan killed his birds.
“I heard a screech and both my parrots were lying dead in their cage,” Manfred Heinz told North Rhine-Westphalian newspaper the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday.
Chicco, 16, and Coco, 12, both allegedly died when Heinz opened the oven to get out a pizza, he said.
The cause, he believes, was a new teflon-coated drip-tray which he did not realize could release fumes incredibly dangerous for birds. “I only found out afterwards on the internet,” he said.
Heinz has taken both the shop which sold him the pan and the manufacturers to a Dortmund court to sue them for €2,100 in damages, as he believes that one or both of them should have warned him about the effect on birds.
The parrots cost him €1,000 but as his lawyer told the paper, the pain he had suffered since their death was incalculable.
Whether or not the parrots died from the teflon fumes has to be proven, though and so the judge has ordered an expert opinion on how dangerous they are for birds. It does state clearly in most bird owners handbooks, however, bird cages should not be kept in a kitchen for that very reason.
This could be used against Heinz in court, in that as a bird keeper he should have realized the risks.
Heinz suggested exhuming Chicco and Coco to perform definitive tests, but judge Josef Knierbein politely vetoed the idea, “let’s leave the birds in peace,” he said.