As we embark upon the hectic holiday season, we at Law Law Land would like to take a moment to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for in this, our blog’s first year. We are thankful for our loyal readers, all eight of you. We are thankful for our jobs, and for the free donuts on the first Wednesday of every month. And perhaps most importantly, we are thankful for frivolous entertainment industry lawsuits. They keep us entertained, they give us an endless supply of things to write about, and if we’re really lucky, they pay our bills.
With this in mind, and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we chronicle some of the legal world’s biggest turkeys:
- We’ve all heard about Lindsay Lohan’s “milkaholic” lawsuit against E*Trade, but did you know that an incarcerated drug dealer named “Freeway” Ricky Ross brought a $10 million trademark and right of publicity lawsuit against rapper Rick Ross (née William Leonard Roberts II), alleging that the rapper infringed on the drug kingpin’s ability to profit from his name? The case was tossed earlier this month, apparently because the drug dealer could not successfully establish that his name had acquired value in commerce in the field of drug dealing. Undeterred, Ross has reportedly taken to advertising his business on late night television in a bid to establish secondary meaning. Let’s give a hand to Mr. Freeway, though, for choosing a frivolous lawsuit to address his problem. Most of his colleagues would have handled it differently.
- An oldie but a goodie: a man named Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch because (shocker!) the beautiful women in the beer company’s advertisements did not magically appear when he drank Bud Light. The women that did magically appear were 5’s and 6’s at best, complained Overton.
- In 2009, a New Jersey judge dismissed a defamation case brought by three women who appeared in the 2008 book Hot Girls With Douchebags. The judge ruled that the book was filled with satirical humor, and questioned, “…would a reasonable person believe that Jean-Paul Sartre stated, ‘man is condemned to be douchey because once thrown into the world he is responsible for every douchey thing that he does’?” (If he had said things like that, we all would have paid more attention in our French Philosophy class.) One of our bloggers and his wife are in the book. They’ll remain nameless … until you buy the book.
- In 2006, purported Michael Jordan lookalike Allen Heckard sued Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight. Heckard claimed that Jordan (by looking like Heckard) and Nike (by promoting Jordan and making him so recognizable) caused him permanent injury, emotional pain and suffering, since Heckard was allegedly mistaken for Jordan on a daily basis. Heckard ultimately dismissed the lawsuit without explanation. Could the $100 million basketball contract that Heckard was mistakenly offered have had something to do with it?
- We’ve all heard of Batman (the Caped Crusader). But have you heard of Batman, Turkey(the provincial capital of Batman Province)? The town is perhaps now best known for fighting back against the “other” Batman, threatening to sue Warner Bros. and Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan in 2008 for—you guessed it—using the city’s name without permission. (The mayor of Batman-the-city stated that, “There is only one Batman in the world” and “The American producers used the name of our city without informing us.”) No lawsuit was ever filed, although the city of Philadelphia apparently filed a copycat complaint against Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Casablanca also sued Warner Bros., but was thrown out of court because of the statute of limitations.
- And last but not least, what price would you pay for a blissful minute of silence? If you’re British composer Mike Batt, the answer is: six figures. In 2002, Batt was sued for allegedly plagiarizing the late American composer John Cage’s 1952 composition “4’33”” (which was totally silent) in the song “A One Minute Silence” by his band the Planets (which was also totally silent). While Batt initially quipped, that “Mine is a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds,” he ultimately paid an undisclosed six-figure sum to the John Cage Trust. Asked whether they were happy with the result, Cage’s heirs predictably had no comment. In unrelated news, this firm defended a stationery store against a lawsuit brought by a plaintiff who claimed copyright ownership in blank paper.
Thanks to everyone who has friended us on Facebook, followed us on Twitter, and subscribed to our news feed. If only someone would send us an old fashioned letter, our lives would be complete.