Monday, March 23, 2015

Blurred Lines No More

After many months of litigation, Marvin Gaye's family finally won a verdict in their favor, a whopping 7.4 million dollars. Thicke and Pharrell Williams repeatedly denied that the two songs, "blurred lines" and "got to give it up" closely resembled one another.

Additionally, Thicke denied having written the song during trial, although he had been repeatedly credited for the success of the song that sold millions of copies worldwide. Attorneys for Thicke and Williams argued that the jury's verdict significantly hindered an artist's creativity in producing music.

Gaye's family however was relieved to know that they had finally been vindicated for their fathers' creative music. The family claimed that during attempted settlement and subsequent filing of the lawsuit, that Thicke had repeatedly lied to the family and was not cooperative during the entire duration.

Hopefully future artists embrace the meaning behind the jury's verdict and tread carefully in using familiar beats in new songs. Although Williams lost this lawsuit, many doubt that his successful career will be tainted, particularly since his next hit, "Happy," has obviously proved rewarding.

- Nadin Said, Editor in Chief 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Celebrities Gone Wild

When you walk into a store today, it is almost impossible not to find a celebrity-endorsed product. This presents a challenge for these brands when their endorser suddenly shows up on ‘Page 6’ for all the wrong reasons: drugs, domestic violence, even an act of infidelity. This causes brands to enter recall mode and attempt to distance themselves from the endorser by terminating the contract, cancel the advertising, or pulling the endorsed product from the shelves.

Instead of leaving brands in the dust to take this costly and unanticipated expense, Lexington Insurance (the American International Group member offering the insurance) has introduced Celebrity Product RecallResponse, a new insurance product that protects customers when their celebrity endorser experiences a small or a worldwide “public fall from grace, scandal, or unexpected death”.[1]
“Celebrity Product RecallResponse covers certain costs incurred by companies to recall products bearing a celebrity endorser’s name and image”.[2] These costs include expenses associated with disposing of products and packaging, paying overtime wages to employees, and utilizing other personnel. The coverage also reimburses for the removal of marketing and advertising materials.
The so-called “scandal insurance” is triggered by significant news media coverage of an endorser’s distasteful conduct that results in (or has a high chance of resulting in) a negative public outlook on the individual and a significant adverse impact on a company’s product. For example, if a certain actress endorsing a fashion brand enters rehab for the fifth time, the policy would be triggered.  This would result in the removal of all the promotional and marketing materials for that product (i.e. billboards, TV commercials, etc.) associated with that actress.
Coverage is designed to provide protection for companies of many sizes. It is available with standalone policy limits up to $5 million or by endorsement with limits up to $1 million.
All products endorsed by a certain Lohan or Cyrus are sighing a breath of relief.

- Sarah Wobken, Staff Editor

[1] AIG Introduces Product Recall Insurance to Cover Risks from Celebrity Endorsements, BusinessWire, (Jan. 29, 2015, 1:00 PM),
[2] Id.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

American Needle Settles with the NFL After a Decade of Litigation

         The notorious saga first became famous in 2004 when American Needle, Inc. sued the N.F.L. The suit stems from a 2000 decision by the N.F.L. to enter into an exclusive apparel trademarking and manufacturing contract with Reebok for headgear, thereby ending American Needle’s 20-year tenure as a vendor for the N.F.L. This infuriated American Needle because, in their history, the N.F.L. had always granted nonexclusive contracts to companies like American Needle. They argued that the exclusive contract with Reebok violated the “Sherman Act’s prohibition on any ‘contract, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade.’”  Essentially, American Needle alleged that the 32 N.F.L. teams conspired together to reach an exclusive deal with Reebok because the teams make up 100% of the market power.

            The case made its way all the way to the Supreme Court in 2010, which held that the N.F.L. was made up of 32 different that are considered 32 independent businesses and therefore are subject to antitrust regulation under Section One of the Sherman Act.  The Court rejected the N.F.L.’s plea that it be granted broad antitrust immunity and ruled that while the teams have certain common interests, they are separate entities interested in profit maximization. The Supreme Court remanded the case and in 2014 a U.S. District Court rejected the N.FL.’s motion for summary judgment, setting the stage for a heated trial. This decision was largely due to the evidence that American Needle submitted showing that the wholesale prices of hats rose significantly shortly after Reebok’s exclusive contract came to fruition.

            Based upon the continued ligation and American Needle’s win, all signs pointed to an antitrust trial. However, most unceremoniously, it was announced recently that American Needle agreed to settle their lawsuit against the N.F.L. The settlement agreement was not disclosed and we may never know the terms, but it is likely that the N.F.L. will be paying a large sum of money to American Needle. While the decision to settle is understandable, many people are disappointed. The case would have set precedent for many antitrust lawsuits involving sports leagues that involve very similar issues; both the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball are under similar antitrust scrutiny. Because there will be no trial, sports leagues are free to continue issuing similar contracts that resemble consorted efforts. Because practices remained largely unchanged since American Needle’s initial win, another trial was desperately needed.    


Sara Montgomery, Staff Editor