Subway Settlement Giving Attorneys a Lot of Dough Doesn’t Measure Up

(August 25, 2017) A settlement giving the class attorneys $525,000 without giving customers any meaningful benefits was thrown out by the Seventh Circuit, which found class never should have been certified because the case sought only worthless benefits to class members.

The opinion aptly described this case by comparing it to another, finding, “A class action that ‘seeks only worthless benefits for the class’ and ‘yields [only] fees for class counsel’ is ‘no better than a racket’ and ‘should be ...

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Court Dismisses Action Against Zillow for its Zestimates

(August 24, 2017) A lawsuit to enjoin Zillow.com from publishing “Zestimates” on home values has been dismissed because the price estimate is not an official appraisal, does not invade the homeowner’s privacy rights, and is not deceptive.

The plaintiffs filed a class action against Zillow, Inc. after the company’s “Zestimates” reported values that plaintiffs believed were far under the actual value of the homes, making their homes harder to sell above the online estimate.

The complaint alleged that publishing estimates of home ...

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Inaccurate Online Credit Report Is Sufficient Harm Under Fair Credit Act

(August 17, 2017) Spokeo.com’s publishing of an inaccurate credit report online is sufficient concrete harm to support a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit means that Thomas Robins may pursue his case against Spokeo, Inc. under the FCRA. The trial court originally dismissed his claim for lack of standing because he did not allege any injury in fact. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court remanded the matter back to the ...

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Facebook Displaying Ads on Page Not Sufficient for Right of Publicity Claim

(August 11, 2017) Facebook did not violate a country-rap singer’s right of publicity by allowing third parties to place ads on pages that contained critical comments about the singer.

Country rap artist Mikel Knight, whose real name is Jason Cross, sued Facebook alleging six causes of action. Three of the causes of action were dismissed by the trial court in an anti-SLAPP hearing, when the court found Facebook was protected under the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) because it was a provider ...

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Supreme Court Strikes Down PTO Prohibition Against Derogatory Trademarks

(June 20, 2017) The United States Supreme Court has found that the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) prohibition against registering trademarks that may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute any persons is unconstitutional.

The PTO denied registration for “The Slants” by a rock group comprised of Asians. The trademark was rejected by the PTO examining attorney because “slants” is a derogatory or offensive term to some Asians. The PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed.

The group’s leader said he ...

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Website Posting Alone Cannot Support Finding of Access for Copyright Infringement

(June 8, 2017) Placing copyrighted materials on a website does not justify an inference that an alleged infringer accessed the materials, especially when the materials are not strikingly similar, the Seventh Circuit found.

The case involved whether a homebuilder infringed copyrighted home plans. The appellate court said the home-plan field was “crowded,” making it difficult to find protectable creative expression “because opportunities for originality are tightly constrained by function requirements, consumer demands, and the vast body of similar designs already ...

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Autonomous Vehicle Legal Issues Explored by Richard C. Balough

(May 11, 2017) As autonomous and driverless vehicles take to the roads, drivers, car manufactures, programmers, and insurance companies will face new legal challenges, said Richard C. Balough in a presentation at the 2017 Intellectual Property Litigation Seminar sponsored by DRI.

“Because today’s and tomorrow’s cars are computers that happen to move physically on the roadway, there are subject to performance failures by inadequate design, malware, or hacking,” Mr. Balough told the group of defense and in-house counsel.

The code used in ...

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Google This: Is Google’s Trademark Generic?

(May 18, 2017) Even though the public may use “google” in a generic sense with regards to internet search engines, that fact alone does not suffice to cancel Google’s trademarks.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Google against a party who argued that Google was viewed by the public as generic, thus no longer eligible for trademark protection.

“We agree with the district court that, at best, Elliott has presented admissible evidence to support the inference that a majority of ...

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Text Message Platform May Be Autodialer But Consent Makes Texts OK

(May 4, 2017) A text message platform that sends messages only to a set list of numbers may be an “autodialer” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Seventh Circuit found. However, if the party claiming a violation of the TCPA voluntarily provided their number, then there may be no cause of action.

A customer of Chicago-based Bijora, Inc., which operates Akira boutique women’s clothing and accessory stores, filed a class action seeking $1.8 billion in damages. The woman alleged ...

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Satisfying Food Entrepreneurs Hunger for Information on Protecting IP

(May 4, 2017) The Hatchery, a food business incubator in Chicago, hosted Cheryl Balough on April 20, 2017 for a presentation on “Trademarks & Trade Secrets: Protecting Special Features in Your Food Business.”

Ms. Balough shared guidelines for selecting trademarks, reviewed the trademark clearance and registration process, and discussed the intersection of trademarks and domain names. She also reviewed what constitutes a trade secret, how food businesses can ensure their trade secrets stay secret, and the limits to trade secret protection. ...

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