Last week, our very own Aaron Moss broke down the recent spat between Best Buy and Newegg.com, which began when Newegg ran a new TV commercial in which, as Best Buy puts it, “a fake Best Buy employee is depicted as being slovenly and uninformed about computer products.” (Scathing!) Aaron’s post caught the eye of radio host Joe Escalante, whose glittering resume also includes entries such as “bassist of punk rock group the Vandals,” “entertainment lawyer,” “network television executive,” “filmmaker,” and — most importantly, of course — “long-time Law Law Land reader.” And Joe kindly invited Aaron to discuss the issue further on last week’s episode of Barely Legal Radio. You can listen to that interview here:

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2:

If you haven’t checked it out, Barely Legal Radio is Joe’s weekly take on entertainment law issues. The show looks at hot news stories, provides free answers to live and pre-submitted viewer questions, and is the perfect airwave-based complement to the written analysis you find here at Law Law Land. Plus, Joe is clearly a man of distinguished taste and judgment, having previously invited our own Rachel Valadez on his show to discuss her post about the Mike Tyson/Hangover 2 face tattoo lawsuit.

Barely Legal Radio airs on Sundays at 5 pm on KTLK AM 1150 in Los Angeles, Fridays at 11 am PST on Indie1031.com, and Fridays at 2 pm PST on weezer.com.
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WTForever21 is a blog devoted to poking fun at some of the more ridiculous clothing items offered by well-known clothing store Forever 21. While the author, Rachel Kane, admits that most of her closet is comprised of Forever 21’s “tasteful, trendy and totally awesome selection,” the blog focuses on those items that go “horribly awry.” If you’ve ever stepped into a Forever 21, you KNOW what she is talking about. While there are tons of great items for cheap, there are also some pieces that look like they were designed by Dame Edna (take this tired, ruffled, print jumpsuit, or this gem, or these floral, woven harem pants).

Apparently, Forever 21 isn’t big on humor – it sent Ms. Kane a cease and desist letter claiming that, because her website makes use of its federally registered trademark and product photographs, it constitutes trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition and dilution (these are all concepts Forever 21’s legal team is intimately familiar with since the company has been the subject of multiple suits from others claiming those exact same legal theories). The letter also noted that her website’s title refers to an abbreviation (WTF) that the general public might find offensive (or hilarious – it is a fine line). Unfortunately, my lawyers have advised me that I shouldn’t curse in this blog, so if you don’t know what WTF stands for, you may just have to Google it (and you need to get the F out more often).
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Does any one electronics retailer have a monopoly on incompetent employees wearing blue shirts? That’s just one of the questions raised by a cease and desist letter sent by retail giant Best Buy to internet merchant Newegg.com, which Newegg posted on its Facebook page last week.

In its letter, Best Buy takes Newegg to task for, among other things, a TV commercial in which (in Best Buy’s words) a “fake Best Buy employee is depicted as being slovenly and uninformed about computer products, in contrast to [Newegg’s] employees who are portrayed as ‘experts.’” The letter goes on to state that Newegg’s “misuse of valuable trademarks and . . . negative portrayal of our employees violates our trademark rights and misleads consumers about our services in violation of federal and state law.”

Check out the commercial in question, after the jump.
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Ask a fashionista what a red soled shoe means and they’ve got two words for you: Christian Louboutin. (On the other hand, ask a guy what a shoe with a red sole means and they’ll probably answer: dirty shoes). Christian Louboutin believes the red sole defines his brands identity, so in 2008 he trademarked his red sole with the US Trademark office. Today, Christian Louboutin has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to enforcing his trademark (and if you’re looking for a working definition of “zero tolerance,” it might look something like this video of a monster truck rolling over thousands of counterfeit Louboutins). He has even sued brands such as Carmen SteffensOh. . . Deer, and more recently Yves Saint Laurent for violating this trademark.

Is Louboutin overreaching by claiming proprietary rights in red shoe soles? The answer might have Yves Saint Laurent’s lawyers seeing red.
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This isn’t a rhetorical or philosophical question, nor is it the proper response to a clue on Jeopardy! In fact, it may soon be decided in a court of law.

On March 18, 2011, Apple Inc. filed a complaint in federal court against Amazon.com over Amazon’s “unauthorized use of Apple’s APP STORE™ trademark.” Apple claims that Amazon has been unlawfully using the term “APP STORE” in connection with Amazon’s “Appstore Developer Portal” and “Angry Birds Rio” software. Of course, what this is really about is that Apple is annoyed by Amazon’s “Appstore for Android” — whose name bears a certain resemblance to Apple’s own iTunes App Store.

Phones with Google’s Android operating system are a major competitive concern for Apple. The obvious solution to this would be for Apple to take advantage of its marketing juggernaut and already superior market share to beat out Android in the marketplace. But there are no lawyers involved in that, rendering it totally un-American. So instead, Apple has followed in the proud footsteps of luminaries like Donald Trump (tried to trademark “you’re fired!”), Paris Hilton (tried to control the phrases “that’s huge” and “that’s hot”), and Subway (claimed to own the word “footlong”), by going to court to claim trademark rights in the phrase “APP STORE.”
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Celebrities have a lot of influence over modern society. They influence how we dress (hey celebrities, can someone put an end to the unflattering skinny jeans trend, please?), how we talk (or had you not noticed your frattiest coworkers repeating “that’s hot” and “winning” ad nauseum), how we dance (who started this fist-pumping thing, anyway?), the way we vote (or whether we vote at all), and what we buy. Not surprisingly, companies take advantage of this bizarre phenomenon by paying celebrities to promote their products. For example, football great and ladies’ man Joe Namath showed off his shapely gams to endorse Beautymist pantyhose in a silly commercial, supermodel Heidi Klum strangely decided to lend her name and face to a fat-free fruit candy, and Oprah’s multi-sector Midas touch is so potent she has an “Effect” named after her.

Occasionally, a company might incorporate a celebrity’s quote into an advertisement to hype a particular product or service. For instance, the late suit designer and proprietor of “the most expensive store in the world,” Bijan, teamed up with the uber-expensive Rolls-Royce in a partnership that Bush the Elder (that’s right, George H.W. Bush himself) describes on a Santa Monica Blvd. billboard as “[a] class act designer partnered with a class act car.” It is probably safe to assume that Bijan/Rolls-Royce obtained permission to use George Bush’s name and quote on that billboard (and if not, I know a good lawyer). But, because we live in a world where people do not always ask for permission (or otherwise abide by the law), this billboard made me think about the limitations on using a celebrity’s quote in an advertisement.
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By now, I’m sure many of you have seen the Old Navy commercial starring Kim Kardashian Melissa Molinaro, a curvy, dark-haired Kim Kardashian lookalike who bursts into song and dance while looking “super C-U-T-E” in her Old Navy duds. Like many of you, I did a double take when I saw this commercial for the first time. Upon closer examination (read: once I caught a glimpse of the star’s normal-sized backside and nimble dance moves), I realized the star of the commercial was not Kim, but just a woman with a striking resemblance to the reality TV star/fashionista/walking proof of the decline of Western civilization.

After the commercial first aired in February, articles devoted to Old Navy’s use of Kim’s spitting image popped up all over the Internet. Molinaro herself has called the comparisons to Kardashian “extremely flattering” — but of course, who’s to say whether Kim herself would agree? So, naturally, upon first viewing Molinaro’s commercial, the lawyer in me immediately thought, “Can Kim sue Old Navy for using her lookalike in a commercial without her permission?” Then, the blogger in me thought, “I should write a blog about this!” (Then, the normal human being in me thought, “What have I become?”) So, let’s see if the law is on Kim’s side.
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While buying a present for my son recently at a local surf-and-skate shop, I decided to check out the current crop of skateboard decks. For those not into skating (or who don’t have kids into skating), the underside of boards — you know, the part that no one will ever see if you are actually riding the board successfully — have striking graphics that are a big part of why you choose, and how much you pay for, a particular board. (Well that makes perfect sense — you’re welcome, fellow confused parents.)

One deck immediately stood out: a drawing of E.T. and Michael Jackson in an embrace, below the caption “Alien vs. Predator.”

The board is pretty hilarious, but also risky. Because I am a lawyer, and because lawyers must check their unfettered-by-legal-obsession senses of humor at the law school gate, I couldn’t help thinking about numerous potential legal claims that several plaintiffs might be able to bring.
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Last week, Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott learned the hard way that conference expansion is a little trickier than subbing a “12” in for the“10” in your logo.

As many news outlets reported over the weekend, the soon-to-be-Pac-12 conference has discovered that the domain pac12.com has already been claimed by a fan of the late (unless he isn’t) Tupac Shakur, who has been using the site to offer an Amazon widget selling 2Pac albums. The Pac-10 has responded by filing a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization, seeking control of the Pac12.com site.

Most people seem to assume this is nothing but a momentary hiccup in the conference’s plans. After all, the Pac-10 is a well-established — and well-funded — preeminent national sporting organization, and a one-page CD ad with the heading “Tupac Lives!” doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of conference partisans everywhere. But, if it can’t (or won’t) cough up a check with enough zeroes on it in order to buy the Pac12.com domain peacefully, the conference may have a real problem wresting away control of the domain by legal force.

Why is that, you ask? The answer requires us to first play a quick game of alphabet soup.
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Whether you are a hopeless romantic or a cynical sort (read: single person) who feels that Valentine’s Day is just an excuse for card companies to sell more paper products (how environmentally unsound!), you simply can’t escape Cupid’s arrow this month — assuming you define “Cupid’s arrow” as incessant advertising about Valentine’s Day. John Paul Young called it way back in 1978: everywhere you look around, there are red roses, and pajamas with hearts on them, and canoodling couples tearfully opening diamond engagement rings together, and candy and just about any other foodstuffs that can somehow be branded with a “love” theme.

You may find Valentine’s Day cheesy, or perhaps even annoying. I get it (believe me, I get it — I spent an hour last night cutting 20 valentines out of red cardstock for my daughter’s second grade class project, and have the numbing, carpal-tunnel like pain in my right index finger to prove it…). But can you truly take issue with something that attempts to foster peace, and love, and harmony? I never thought I’d turn to NASCAR for pearls of wisdom, but really, who doesn’t love love?

Well, at least one small business owner in Texas thinks that the Valentine’s Day experts at 1-800-FLOWERS actually hate love. And peace. Probably puppies too. And possibly America and freedom, as well, but let’s not get carried away.
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