Entries in lawsuit (116)


Warner Brothers Hit with Copyright Infringement Suit

Photo by Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Copyright holders of some popular online cat images claim media giant Warner Brothers swiped their cat images then refused entreaties to pay for them.

Warner Brothers has been slapped with a copyright infringement suit for their “unauthorized use” of two popular YouTube cat characters.

The suit is “Nyan Cat” and “Keyboard Cat” vs. Warner Brothers and 5th Cell Media, the makers of WB’s Scribblenauts puzzle action video game series. The claim is that the games released for Nintendo and PC platforms have, without consent, featured the likeness of Orlando Torres’ “Nyan Cat,” a flying cartoon cat with a Pop-Tart body and rainbow trail, and Charles Schmidt’s “Keyboard Cat” video, which shows his cat, Patso, propped up on a keyboard made to look like he’s playing a song.

“When Chris Torres, the creator of the Nyan Cat meme, found out that Warner Bros. put his character in its newest Scribblenauts game, Scribblenauts Unlimited, without his permission, he says he tried to negotiate with the entertainment conglomerate.

“Warner Bros. called him a nuisance,” Stephen D. Rothschild, attorney for Torres and Schmidt, told ABC News. ”Warner Bros. did the same thing with Charles Schmidt’s creation, the Keyboard Cat meme—put the character in Scribblenauts Unlimited and earlier Scribblenauts games without permission.”

Professor Shyam Balganesh with the University of Pennsylvania Law School told ABC News that he sees this suit as an interesting case of role reversals.

“When the public thinks of copyright today, it’s often big corporations as plaintiffs going after individual copiers and users,” said Balganesh. “This is an instance of that being reversed. Copyright’s excessive litigation costs have been a major deterrent for smaller plaintiffs.

“This is a welcome instance of individual plaintiffs willing to take that chance and go after a big corporation that used their works.”

Balganesh also said that he thinks Torres and Schmidt do have a “good case.”

“Looking at the two designs, I would say that the Nyan Cat clearly implicates both the reproduction right and derivative works right in equal measure,” he said. “The Keyboard Cat, however, was converted from video to cartoon, and likely implicates the derivative works right more than it does the reproduction right. I think the plaintiffs do nonetheless have a good case for the Keyboard Cat as well.”

The attorney for the plaintiffs said that this could have all been avoided had the game makers just gone about using these cat characters in the way other brands and media companies have. Rothschild told ABC News that both “Nyan Cat” and “Keyboard Cat” have been used with permission to market brands including Vitamin Water, Nike, Old Spice, Sprint, Starburst Candy, and Google.

A spokesperson for Warner Brothers told ABC News that the company has no comment on this legal case.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lawsuit Against Judge Judy Resolved

Jesse Grant/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- The lawsuit filed against Judge Judy Sheindlin by the ex-wife of one of her producers has been settled.

Patric Jones claimed in her lawsuit that her ex-husband, Randy Douthit, and Sheindlin conspired on a plan for him to sell the TV star the ex-couple's china and flatware for $50,000 -- more than $450,000 less than what Jones stated they are worth.

Jones' lawyer now tells that the case has been settled.  Jones will have the china and flatware returned to her, and she will pay her ex $12,500.

Scheindlin had told TMZ on Friday that she would give back the china and flatware to her producer, but added, "This very unpleasant lady doesn't give a hoot about dishes.  She cares about pressuring her ex-husband and the way to do that is to attempt to embarrass me."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Taylor Swift Sued for $2.5 Million

ABC/RICK ROWELL(NEW YORK) -- Country music superstar Taylor Swift is on the receiving end of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that accuses her of taking a $2.5 million advance fee to perform at a festival in Ottawa, Canada, only to retain the money after the show was scrapped.

The complaint, obtained by E! Online and filed in federal court in New York by Florida-based ticketing company Fire USA Inc., accuses the 23-year-old singer of a breach of agreement by refusing to schedule a new performance after the Aug. 11, 2012 concert in Ottawa was cancelled.

“Taylor Swift, individually and/or through her agent [The] Messina [Group], refused to perform and or reschedule a new appearance, as agreed under the Oct. 18, 2011 agreement,” read the complaint.  “The acts of third-party defendant Taylor Swift and/or her agent Messina amounted to a breach of the aforementioned Oct. 18, 2011 agreement.”

Fire USA sued Swift after being sued itself by credit card payment processing company Evo Merchant Services for $1.8 million, according to the complaint.  Evo reportedly was on the hook for $1.8 million in canceled credit card billings after customers sought refunds en masse.

A representative of Swift’s declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by ABC News.  An email sent to the public relations firm representing Swift was not immediately returned.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Alec Baldwin's Yoga Instructor-Wife, Hilaria Thomas, Faces Lawsuit

Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Alec Baldwin's wife, popular New York City yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas, is being sued by a former student who alleges that overcrowding during one of her classes caused him to suffer serious injury.

Spencer Wolff, 32, alleges in the complaint that Thomas' Jan. 15 class at Yoga Vida was so crowded that he was forced to take a spot near a window. Wolff's attorney, Paul Weitz, told ABC News that while trying to dismount from a handstand, his client "lost his balance and his leg went through the window."

"Honestly, he severed his leg really severely," Weitz said. "The muscle in his calf is seriously injured to the point where he really cannot use his ankle at all."

Weitz said Wolff, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Yale's Comparative Literature Department, who also holds degrees from Harvard College, Columbia Law School and Paris' Sorbonne, "has what's known as a dropped foot."

While he could not specify an amount, Weitz said Wolff is seeking "a substantial amount of damages."

"He can't flex his ankle, nor can he move it from side to side," Weitz said.

"He shouldn't have been instructed to do it at this close proximity to the window, certainly with the amount of people in the room," Weitz said. "You would think they would anticipate that not everybody's going to be doing the exercise perfectly every time."


The suit, which was filed Feb. 15 in Manhattan Supreme Court, names Thomas, as well as Yoga Vida and 99 University Corp., which owns the building where the Yoga Vida is located.

"We're not really sure at this time [the building] had a permit to even be conducting exercise classes at this kind of space," Weitz said.

A woman who answered the phone at 99 University Corp. told ABC News "we've not been served or filed."

Yoga Vida's owner, who employs Thomas as an instructor, has not responded to a request for comment.

The Baldwins' spokesman on Monday said, "It's unfortunate [Wolff] was injured but the only one that was responsible was him."

Weitz said Wolff is under the care of a doctor, but there is "a possibility he will need surgery in the future depending on how he heals."

"It's nothing personal, you know? Whoever the instructor was, they would have been named. She happens to be a famous person. But if this was Jane Smith, instructor – Jane Smith would have been named," Weitz said.

Meanwhile, Thomas' husband, actor Alec Baldwin, has responded on Twitter in defense of his wife.

"1 – the class was, IN NO WAY, 'dangerously crowded." 42 in a class w room for 70," he wrote Sunday.

Baldwin has also found himself in hot water with the New York Post. The paper reported the 30 Rock actor allegedly "called a black Post photographer a racial epithet" in New York's East Village Sunday morning.

Again, Baldwin took to Twitter to respond to the Post's allegations.

"Thank u 2 NYPD officers who came 2 my home 2day so that I could file a formal complaint against NY Post 'photographer' who assaulted me," he posted Sunday night.

"The claim of racist remarks is one of the most outrageous things I've heard in my life," Baldwin said on Monday through his spokesman.

Baldwin and Thomas recently announced they are expecting their first child.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network Slapped with Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

ABC/Lou Rocco(LOS ANGELES) -- Oprah Winfrey's OWN network has been sued by a former employee who claims she is the victim of sex and pregnancy discrimination.

Carolyn Hommel alleges in a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court that she was replaced by a temporary employee when she took a medical leave during a pregnancy.  Hommel claims that when she returned to work, her duties were gradually removed and she was excluded from meetings, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hommel was hired in 2010 as the senior director of scheduling and acquisitions at OWN.

According to her lawsuit, on March 19, 2012, one month after giving birth to her daughter, Hommel was informed she was being terminated.

Hommel claims she was encouraged to apply for a more senior position, such as a vice president position, but when she did, she was passed over by her boss.  Hommel alleges her boss, Michael Garner, made her job duties and responsibilities seem “less senior” in a performance review, so she would not considered for the new vice president position.

Garner is also named as a defendant in the suit, which alleges sex discrimination, disability discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation and willful failure to pay wages upon discharge or termination.

Hommel is seeking unspecified damages.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lindsay Lohan Sues Clothing Manufacturer

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Lindsay Lohan apparently didn't have her fill of the legal system this week, following her appearance in a Los Angeles court on Wednesday.  The actress is suing D.N.A.M. Apparel Industries for over a million dollars, according to

Lohan says D.N.A.M. licensed the trademark to her "6126" clothing line for the purposes of manufacturing her brand for international sale.

The Mean Girls star is claiming in her lawsuit that she and her partner in the clothing line did not receive the full amount in royalties they are owed from their agreement with the company.  They are seeking more than $1.1 million in damages.

TMZ notes that Lohan and her partner are currently negotiating a new licensing agreement with another company.

Lohan flew cross-country at virtually the last minute for a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday regarding her car crash on the Pacific Coast Highway last June.  She's pleaded not guilty to lying to police, driving recklessly and obstructing an officer from doing his duties.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


R&B Singer to Pay $1.2 Million Reward for Lost Laptop

Donna Ward/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Grammy-nominated R&B singer whose music files disappeared when his laptop was stolen was ordered to pay nearly $1.2 million to a German man who claims to have found the computer in a forest.

R&B singer and Rapper Ryan Leslie, who was nominated for a Grammy award in 2011, offered a reward of $20,000 for his missing backpack after it was taken from a car chauffeuring him between performances in Cologne, Germany, in 2010.

When no one turned in the backpack, which contained the laptop, an external hard drive, jewelry, and cash, Leslie increased the reward to $1 million for any of the files, or intellectual property, stored on the computer and hard drive, according to his attorney.

"He made a second reward video and offered $1 million for just the intellectual property on the external hard drive and computer, the session files," David DeStefano, Leslie's attorney, told ABC News. "They're different from just an MP3, MP3s are nothing for a producer or a studio engineer, they can't do anything with them. They need the session files. These were his compositions."

After a month of false leads, a German man named Armin Augstein contacted police saying he had found the laptop, DeStefano said. Augstein said he found the backpack in a garbage bag in a forest, and decided to bring it home. He then found Leslie's passport, searched his name on the Internet, and found out about the reward, DeStefano said.

Augstein's attorney, Michael S. Fischman, could not be reached for comment.

Leslie refused to pay Augstein the $1 million because his music files had been corrupted, DeStefano said Wednesday. Augstein then filed a lawsuit seeking the full reward.

In November, a federal court in Manhattan ordered Leslie to pay Augstein the full $1 million, according to court documents.

On Friday, the court once again sided with Augstein and ordered Leslie to pay an additional $180,000 to Augstein for interest that accrued between when the laptop was found, in 2010, and when the decision came down from federal court in 2012.

DeStefano said that he did not contend the motion for $180,000 because he was appealing the entire decision, hoping to have it overturned.

Fischman, the attorney for Augstein, was quoted as telling the New York Post that "had Mr. Leslie honored his promise, or responded to the repeated requests for contact, this matter could have been amicably resolved a long time ago without litigation."

DeStefano said he is hoping to file briefs for the appeal process soon.

"This music was stolen from him," DeStefano said. "That was it. That was his composition. Those were his files, and he was unable to release an album for two years. So as an artist he released two albums in 2009 and was nominated in 2009, and then he was not able to release an album for two years."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Zach Ward: Bully from "A Christmas Story" Movie Sues, Says He Was Bullied in Real Life

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The actor who played the famous yellow-eyed nemesis to Ralphie in the movie, A Christmas Story, says in a lawsuit he's the one who was bullied in real life by the National Entertainment Collectibles Association.

Zach Ward, who played "Scut Farkus" in the 1983 holiday classic, settled a suit Friday against NECA after claiming the association used his image without permission in a board game based on the film.

Ward says he made just $5,000 for his performance in the movie and sued because he did not want to be pushed around himself.

"They expected me to roll over, suck my thumb and go home and complain and whine about it, but really do nothing and I just couldn't do that and it just wasn't right," Ward said.

The actor says that he did agree to allow NECA to make a 7-inch action figure to be made in the likeness of Farkus, but claims to have never given permission or been paid for the use of his image in a board game.

The movie itself gained popularity and fame on cable television, long after its run in theaters ended. By 1997 it had grown into an American holiday classic on cable television, when the TNT network began airing a 24-hour marathon of the movie on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Millions of Americans watch the film every year to this day, and a Broadway play recently launched in New York City based on the movie. Now, the actor who played perhaps the most famous bully of all time, is taking a cue from Ralphie in the movie and fighting back against NECA.

"It's not the way you're supposed to treat people and in my gut it just felt unfair and it was the perfect example of being bullied," Ward said.

Unlike other actors in the movie, Ward was a member of a Canadian actor's union and his contract did not provide future merchandising rights.

His lawsuit quotes a series of emails from the movie studio such as one that warned the board game maker: "You can not ship this product without approval from the actor who plays (Scut Farkus)."

But in the suit, Ward claimed NECA continued to manufacture and sell thousands of the board games.

"I had never been told about this," Ward said. "I had never been informed about it. I had never seen it before and I was shocked, absolutely shocked."

After settling the lawsuit on Friday, Kent Raygor, the attorney for NECA told ABC News: "During the course of the litigation, NECA admitted that it owed Ward some back royalties based on other Scut Farkus uses in an action figure, and had always offered to pay those to Ward."

However, Raygor alleges NECA always had properly obtained rights to the board game and says Ward has grown up to become a "professional plaintiff."

In regards to the current suit, he issued a statement scathing rebuke to ABC News about the real-life actor who played the bully.

"This has been a long, exceedingly silly case by a plaintiff who had a bit role as a 13-year-old in the well-known 1983 film," Raygor said. "Ward sued NECA over a barely visible 3/8" x 3/8" blurred image of part of the 'Scut Farkus' character's face on the back of a 2006 A Christmas Story board game. In that image, the Scut Farkus character is hardly recognizable. Any argument that a consumer would have bought that game just because of that tiny image on the back of the box was just wishful thinking."

Still, Raygor says NECA and Ward reached a confidential settlement of which he was barred from disclosing the financial terms. Raygor said the lawsuit was dropped following the settlement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Reality TV Star Sues Assistant Over Alleged Tell-All Book

Jesse Grant/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- If a book is titled Hang in There, Baby — What One of the World’s Most Difficult Bosses Taught Me About Life, Work and Love, chances are it will capture the attention of the boss in question.

And so Jeff Lewis, the host of Bravo’s Flipping Out, and, presumably, the “difficult” boss here, is suing the author of the book, Jenni Pulos, who has been his longtime assistant and co-star.

According to the complaint filed Nov. 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lewis first learned that Pulos was writing a book about her life in October.  At that time, the lawsuit contends, Lewis reminded Pulos of the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2008 and 2010, which forbade her from disclosing information about his professional or personal life.

She promised that the book was “strictly related” to her own family and personal life, not her work life, the complaint says. But after scrolling around the Web, Lewis came across the book’s title on, which led him to believe that the book had already been written, since it had an ISBN number, was slated for 288 pages and scheduled to be published on Aug. 20, 2013, by St. Martin’s Press.

Lewis’ lawyer, J. Scott Souders, then sent cease-and-desist letters to Pulos and her agents. They, in turn, said the book had not yet been written and that “it did not contain any confidential or proprietary information.” Pulos and Souders contend that the only thing Pulos was ordered to cut was the title of the book — to Hang in There, Baby! — and nothing else. Earlier this month, Lewis asked to see a copy of the manuscript to make sure Pulos hadn’t broken their confidentiality agreement, but she told him “her agents instructed her not to show Jeff any of the book copy,” according to the lawsuit.

On her website, Pulos writes that her forthcoming book will “humorously outline” her advice for “surviving any difficult situation, no matter if it is in the workplace, in relationships or in life.”

But Lewis doesn’t find anything humorous about it. Along with working as Lewis’ personal and executive assistant for more than 10 years, Pulos has also appeared in all six of the show’s seasons, according to the complaint.  “In her employment with Jeff for these many years, Jenni has become privy to both trade secrets and other confidential information relating to the operation of the plaintiff’s businesses as well as highly confidential and private information relating to Jeff’s personal life and business dealings,” the complaint alleges.

“Who’s going to buy a book about Jenni’s life if it doesn’t include Jeff Lewis, and probably confidential information she’s gleaned?” Souder told ABC News. “You want the backstory if you buy a book.”

Lewis, Jeff Lewis Productions Inc. and Jeff Lewis Design LLC have sought a preliminary and permanent injunction against Pulos, preventing her from disclosing or publishing “personal, private, proprietary or confidential information” about Lewis. He is also seeking reimbursement for his legal fees.

St. Martin’s declined to comment. But Pulos’ lawyer, Adam Levin, told ABC News that "she’s done nothing wrong and expects the lawsuit to be dismissed soon.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Carly Rae Jepsen Accused in Lawsuit of Ripping Off "Call Me Maybe"

Chris Polk/Getty Images via ABC(NEW YORK) -- A Ukrainian singer is calling Carly Rae Jepsen a thief.

According to, the singer, known as Aza, is claiming in a new lawsuit that her song, “Hunky Santa,” was the inspiration for Carly’s mega-hit “Call Me Maybe.” She seeks unspecified damages in the suit, which also names Carly and Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.

Aza tells TMZ, "I'm shocked and surprised that these people wanted to sample my lyrics on their song. They didn't ask me for permission, they just took it.”

Carly’s rep denies the allegation to TMZ, saying, "This is completely false and [Carly's] lawyers will deal with this. Everyone knows [Carly] is a songwriter. She is not spending a lot of time listening to Ukrainian radio."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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