Category Archives: Supreme Court

Supreme Court – The latest news about Supreme Court from the Lawstarz Blog – Latest news and coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hollywood Confronts a Copyright Argument With Potential for Mass Disruption

 9:50am PT by Eriq Gardner

Who really owns the CG characters in blockbuster films like ‘Avengers’ and ‘Night at the Museum’? On Monday, a judge was told it’s not the studios.

Are some of Hollywood’s biggest movies from the past decade — Guardians of the GalaxyAvengers: Age of UltronDeadpool and Night at the Museum, among others — all copyright infringements because they were allegedly created with stolen technology? The question seems outlandish, and yet, that’s exactly what a California federal judge was told on Monday in a case that can’t be shrugged off as a crank even if it is now treading on some fantastic territory including a scholar’s search for hidden codes in the Hebrew Bible.

Rearden LLC is the plaintiff. The firm was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Perlman, who claims to own software called MOVA, which captures facial expressions to create photorealistic computer graphic effects. Rearden also alleges its technology was stolen by a former colleague before eventually landing in the hands of a Chinese firm. After the FBI investigated economic espionage, Rearden sued this Chinese company and won an injunction. Now, Rearden is suing the customers of the stolen technology — DisneyFox and Paramount — who find their blockbusters the subject of bold intellectual property claims.

In response to the lawsuit, the studios have contended that that the copyright, trademark and patent claims fail as a matter of law. This story will focus on the mind-blowing copyright arguments.

At this stage of the dispute, the studios can’t dispute the truth of the allegations — not only did they use stolen technology, they did so knowingly. But Disney, Fox and Paramount ask, so what? Whatever shows up onscreen is primarily the product of human input, namely film direction and an actor’s performance. The technology company simply can’t own the output.

“Indeed, if Rearden’s authorship-ownership theory were law, then Adobe or Microsoft would be deemed to be the author-owner of whatever expressive works the users of Photoshop or Word generate by using those programs,” wrote Kelly Klaus, attorney for the defendants, who also nodded to an 1884 Supreme Court opinion, Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony.

Full Read – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/hollywood-confronts-a-copyright-argument-potential-mass-disruption-1049516

Trump administration tells court law does not ban bias against gay workers

(Reuters) – A Trump administration lawyer on Tuesday urged a U.S. appeals court in Manhattan to rule that federal law does not ban discrimination against gay employees.

The U.S. Department of Justice is supporting a New York skydiving company, Altitude Express Inc, in a lawsuit brought by former instructor Donald Zarda, who accused the company of firing him after he told a customer he was gay and she complained. Zarda died in a BASE-jumping accident after filing the lawsuit, and his estate took over the case.

Judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals focused their questions on whether discrimination against gay workers is a form of unlawful sex bias under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law bans discrimination based on workers’ sex, race, religion and other traits.

Justice Department lawyer Hashim Mooppan told the court that Congress never intended for that law to protect gay workers against bias. And in recent years, he said, lawmakers have repeatedly declined to pass bills that would prohibit employment discrimination against gay workers.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department had not weighed in on the case. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which appeared at Tuesday’s hearing on behalf of Zarda’s estate, has been arguing for five years that bias against gay workers violates the law. The EEOC is an independent federal agency that enforces Title VII.

 read full – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lgbt-court/trump-administration-tells-court-law-does-not-ban-bias-against-gay-workers-idUSKCN1C10EW

Drug companies want to dismiss Ohio’s lawsuit over opioid epidemic

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Companies that make prescription opioids want a Ross County Common Pleas judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine that charged them with stoking Ohio’s opioid epidemic by fraudulently marketing their products.

Legal briefs filed by Purdue Pharma, which makes Oxycontin, say U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for its products preempt Ohio law, and DeWine’s lawsuit also failed to prove the company’s actions caused the harm he cites.

“The State does not identify a single physician who prescribed one of Purdue’s opioid medications to any patient when it was allegedly medically unnecessary, much less, a physician who did so because of Purdue’s allegedly misleading marketing or promotional materials,” the company’s legal filings say.

Read Full – http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/09/drug_companies_want_to_dismiss.html

2 Arrested in Sweeping Designer Drug Bust After Overdose Death; Synthetic Lab Operated Out of Luxury Long Island City High-Rise, Investigators Say

A 34-year-old Queens man and a 29-year-old New Jersey woman were arrested in connection with the alleged conspiracy

A Queens man and a New Jersey woman have been arrested for allegedly conspiring to distribute dangerous designer drugs, including a synthetic opioid several times more potent than morphine that has been blamed for at least one overdose death, authorities said Tuesday.

The arrests stem from an ongoing investigation that culminated with a huge raid at a luxury waterfront high-rise in Long Island City, thought to be the site of a synthetic drug lab, earlier in the day. Another raid was simultaneously conducted in Farmingdale, New Jersey, where the female suspect lives.

According to a criminal complaint, 34-year-old Brian Parker allegedly manufactured and distributed controlled substance analogues, drugs that are “substantially similar” to controlled substances, and other illegal chemicals through two internet-based companies he controlled. The substances sold through his websites were linked to a 2016 overdose death in Wisconsin.

An autopsy revealed the 37-year-old man who overdosed died of acute intoxication due to the combined effects of a substance called U-47700, a synthetic opioid, and Etizolam, a synthetic, fast-acting depressant.

Source: 2 Arrested in Sweeping Designer Drug Bust After Overdose Death; Synthetic Lab Operated Out of Luxury Long Island City High-Rise, Investigators Say – NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Raid-Long-Island-City-New-York–442103943.html#ixzz4rAveXuTH
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Suspended Milwaukee lawyer faces FBI investigation into alleged international fraud scheme

, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The FBI is investigating a suspected international fraud scheme said to involve a suspended Milwaukee lawyer, $16.2 million from China, an English bank, a man who claims to be an English solicitor and … John Hancock’s signature.

At the center of the probe is veteran Milwaukee lawyer Michael Krill, whose law license was suspended by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. The court employed a rarely used rule that allows emergency temporary suspensions before the Office of Lawyer Regulation files a formal complaint.

“Krill’s repeated acts of dishonesty, delay and contempt for the judicial process” makes his “continued practice of law … a threat to the public and the administration of justice,” Karl Wyler, an OLR investigator, wrote in a June affidavit urging the immediate suspension.

The FBI and the Racine County Sheriff’s Office are also investigating the 59-year-old attorney. The Racine investigation centers around $300,000 belonging to ex-clients that Krill received but has not turned over despite a court order that he do so.  Since May, Krill has been fined $500 a day for contempt for failing to turn the money over to the clients’ new lawyers, court records show.

Krill was ordered Monday to come up with about $350,000 — the $300,000 in client funds plus the accrued daily contempt fine — in two weeks or spend 30 days in jail.  Krill has repeatedly promised in court to produce the money in 14 days — and he repeated that pledge Monday during a brief hearing before Racine County Circuit Judge David Paulson.

Full Read – http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2017/08/28/suspended-milwaukee-lawyer-faces-fbi-investigation-into-alleged-international-fraud-scheme/595890001/