Archive for December, 2005

Law professors take on the Jews for Jesus lawsuit

Eric Goldman, a professor at Marquette Law School, has written this post on the lawsuit that Jews for Jesus filed against Google, host of the Jews for Jesus blog (http://jewsforjesus.blogspot.com/), which, as previously noted, has no affiliation with the religious group. Goldman also provided a link to the complaint, which can be found here. This is a fantastic post, including a discussion of trademark infringement and third-level subdomains and differences between this lawsuit and the Geico-Google keyword ads lawsuit. Goldman’s conclusion? I’ll leave that to him:

This lawsuit shares one strong commonality with the Google keyword lawsuits–the plaintiff is suing the wrong party. If Jews for Jesus really believes that the blog is infringing its trademark, sue the blogger, but leave the blog service provider out of it.

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December 29, 2005 at 7:00 am 5 comments

Guilds call for product placements code of conduct

The Writers Guilds and Screen Actors Guild of America are calling for a “Code of Conduct” for film and television product placements. Their proposal would require “both the visual and aural disclosure of product integration deals at the beginning of each program so the program’s audience knows ahead of time that it will be subject to hidden or stealth advertising.” Product placement advertising occurs when marketers pay film and television producers to include products in movies and tv programs, often with little notice to consumers that the products are being pitched.
In a recent article in Mediaweek, Pitney Hardin lawyer Barry Benjamin questions the current product placement practice:

In light of this growing trend, many consumers would perhaps be surprised to learn that Federal law mandates disclosure of the fact that sponsors have paid to have their products included within programming. FCC rules do not spell out exactly how these disclosures should be made, and most television shows satisfy their legal disclosure obligations merely by including a credit to the effect that “promotional considerations were provided by ABC company.” It is debatable whether this type of disclosure satisfies the law.

The Guilds’ call for a code of conduct follows calls by consumer groups and Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein for further investigation of this issue by the FCC.

See Barry M. Benjamin, The Call for a Code of Conduct, Mediaweek (Dec. 19, 2005).

December 27, 2005 at 7:00 am 3 comments

Jews for Jesus in X-mas spirit, sue Google over blog

Reuters reports that Jews for Jesus, an evangelical Christian group, has sued Google for hosting a “Jews for Jesus” blog in its popular Blogger service. The blog, which can be found at http://jewsforjesus.blogspot.com/, is not affiliated with the religious group and appears to be critical of the organization. According to Susan Perlman, associate executive director of Jews for Jesus,”One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that there is freedom of expression, but there should be a protection … so that organizations like ours can represent ourselves.”

The suit was filed in the Southern District of New York. Jews for Jesus and Google are both based in Northern California.

December 24, 2005 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Cal. Supremes extinguish tobacco co.’s fed. defense

In a blow to cigarette giant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, the California Supreme Court upheld the validity of a state law restricting free distribution of cigarettes on state property. The case involved R.J. Reynolds handing out 100,000 packs of free cigarettes to a total of 14,834 adults during six events. California law prohibits giving away cigarettes on public property unless minors are barred from the grounds. The free cigarettes were given out in tents protected by security guards who admitted only adults who were carrying cigarettes. R.J. Reynolds argued that it did not violate the law because minors were barred from the tents. The court also rejected R.J. Reynolds claim that it was protected by a federal law that bars states from regulating cigarette advertising and promotions. Justice Joyce Kennard, speaking for the court, said that:

We here find no clear and manifest purpose of Congress to bar state regulation of the nonsale distribution of cigarettes to minor or adults.

But R.J. Reynolds can at least breath easier for a while. The court also noted that the $14.8 million fine on the tobacco company might be unconstitutionally excessive and sent the case back to Los Angeles County Superior Court to allow the company a second wind. The case was People ex rel. Lockyer v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and it can be found here as a pdf or here as a Word document.

December 23, 2005 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Eli Lilly to plead guilty to false advertising of Evista

Eli Lilly and Co. accepted a $36 million fine and will plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge due to false advertising for its Evista osteoporosis medication for breast cancer and cardiovascular risk reduction. The company’s Evista advertising will also be subject to strict guidelines and federal oversight for five years. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved Evista for breast cancer treatment or cardiovasvular risk reduction, but the drug has been approved for preventing and treating osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

See Eli Lilly Pleads Guilty in Marketing Promotion, Brandweek (Dec. 22, 2005).

December 22, 2005 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

Jones Day gains injunction against “parody” site.

Jones Day has obtained a permanent injunction against a UK-based cybersquater who started a Jones Day “parody” site after the firm successfully stopped his attempt to register the name of one its clients as a web site.

December 22, 2005 at 6:07 pm 1 comment

Star-Tribune avoids major loss from lawsuit

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune notched a “victory” in a lawsuit alleging that the newspaper inflated its circulation numbers to increase advertising revenue. While other publications like Newsday and Hoy were forced to make multi-million dollar payouts, the Star-Tribune was able to escape its circulation battle for $55,000.00 in what it views as a nuisance settlement.

See Ira Teinowitz, ‘Minneapolis Star-tribune’ Settles Advertiser Lawsuit Agrees to Pay $55,000 to Plaintiffs That Accused Paper of Inflating Circulation, AdAge.com (Dec. 21, 2005).

December 21, 2005 at 8:23 pm Leave a comment

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