See you in court
November 14, 2019

It smells like court spirit for Marc Jacobs. A California judge is allowing Nirvana to proceed with a copyright infringement lawsuit against the designer for his "reinterpreted" use of the band's happy face logo.

In December 2018 Nirvana sued Jacobs, claiming a shirt in Jacobs' Bootleg Redux Grunge collection is a rip off of the logo Kurt Cobain designed in 1991. In March, Jacobs responded by filing a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the designs are not sufficiently similar and that there are technicalities in Nirvana's ownership of the logo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Kronsdadt disagreed with the designer's claims. He ruled that the similarities between the two shirts are adequate and that the technicalities in the legality of the band's registration for the logo are insufficient, Rolling Stone reports.

In his motion to dismiss, The Guardian noted, Jacobs claimed that he was "inspired" by the classic vintage logo but put his own mark on it (no pun intended). Nirvana alleges the use of the logo "misled the public into falsely believing that Nirvana endorses the entire 'Bootleg Redux Grunge' collection … when Nirvana has not done so."

Kronstadt asserted that the only "discernible differences" between the two T-shirts is that Jacob's features M and J initials for the eyes versus the band's use of two X's, notes the Reporter. The judge ultimately decided on Thursday that there was enough there to bolster the band's claims and the suit could survive the dismissal. Brielle Diskin


November 14, 2019

After calling for a boycott of Netflix over alleged racial and gender discrimination, Mo'Nique is taking her case to court.

The actress and comedian filed a lawsuit against Netflix on Thursday, alleging the company made a "biased, discriminatory" offer to her for a comedy special in 2017, NBC News reports.

"Despite Mo'Nique's extensive resume and documented history of comedic success, when Netflix presented her with an offer of employment for an exclusive stand-up comedy special, Netflix made a lowball offer that was only a fraction of what Netflix paid other (non-Black female) comedians," the lawsuit says.

Mo'Nique, who won an Academy Award in 2010 for her role in Precious, went public with her claims against Netflix in January 2018, on Instagram calling for a boycott of the company after saying she was offered $500,000 for a comedy special. "However, Amy Schumer was offered $11 million, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle $20 million," she said.

At the time, Mo'Nique received support from comedian Wanda Sykes, who tweeted that Netflix "offered me less than half of your $500k" and that she was "offended." Sykes later released a special with Netflix in May 2019.

"When the talent was not a black woman, Netflix offered to pay, and did pay, astronomically more than it pays to black women like it offered to Mo'Nique," the lawsuit says, with Mo'Nique's attorney also alleging to NBC that Netflix "takes advantage of a gender pay gap that disproportionately affects black women." Netflix has previously said it doesn't comment on contract negotiations and has not reacted to the lawsuit.

Update: In a statement, a Netflix spokesperson said the company takes "any accusations of discrimination very seriously” and noted, "We believe our opening offer to Mo'Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit." Brendan Morrow

October 29, 2019

Australian regulators are taking Google to court.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of misleading consumers about its location data collection practices, The New York Times reports. The regulators allege that through on-screen messages, Google led consumers to believe that disabling the "location history" setting on their Android phone would result in their location data no longer being collected, when another setting actually needed to be turned off as well.

"We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations, Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers' location without them making an informed choice," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said, per CNN.

Google misled consumers about this from January 2017 into late 2018, the ACCC alleges. The regulators also allege Google misled consumers by telling them they could only prevent their location data from being collected by not using its services like Google Search and Google Maps, Reuters reports. This comes after a 18-month investigation into tech companies wrapped up earlier this year, and CNN notes its the first major court case to result from it.

The ACCC is calling for "significant penalties" against Google, with Sims also calling for "declarations that the current behavior should not continue." Google told CNN it is reviewing the case and will "defend this matter." Brendan Morrow

October 4, 2019

After facing allegations in 2018 that he sexually exploited students at his acting school, James Franco is being taken to court.

Two former students of Studio 4, the school Franco founded, have filed a lawsuit against him, alleging he and his partners "engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects," The New York Times reports.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who filed the lawsuit Thursday, also allege the inexperienced women at the school were "routinely pressured to engage in simulated sex acts that went far beyond the standards in the industry," per the Times, and that the school aimed to get around California's regulations that forbid requiring actors to pay for auditions, NPR reports. Franco's lawyer says the actor will "fully defend himself" against the "debunked" claims.

The two former students told NPR that women who were willing to do nude scenes and "push the envelope" in Franco's Sex Scenes class, which did not inform students about industry standards like nudity riders, were rewarded with offers of work, most of which required nudity.

Allegations of misconduct at Franco's school, which closed in 2017, emerged in a Los Angeles Times piece last year, for which Tither-Kaplan was interviewed. Violet Paley, an ex-girlfriend of Franco's, additionally told the Times he coerced her into performing oral sex. In an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shortly before the Times' piece, Franco said, "In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I've done ... If I've done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to." Brendan Morrow

September 10, 2019

Michael Flynn, President Trump's first national security adviser and convicted felon, appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, and finally received a sentencing date: Dec. 18.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's U.S. ambassador, and he subsequently cooperated with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors. Tuesday's hearing was called because federal prosecutors and Flynn's attorneys were not able to agree on whether Flynn was ready to be sentenced, CBS News reports. Flynn's sentencing had been postponed several times, in order for him to continue cooperating with the government.

In June, Flynn hired a new attorney, vocal Mueller critic Sidney Powell. In two August court filings, Powell accused prosecutors of misconduct and manipulation, and claimed in court on Tuesday that Flynn never would have accepted a plea deal if the government had come forward with evidence favorable to Flynn. Federal prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, a member of Mueller's team, denied all of Powell's allegations. Catherine Garcia

August 5, 2019

Puerto Rico's effort to find a new governor is only getting messier and messier.

After Ricardo Rosselló on Friday stepped down as governor in light of a corruption scandal and the leak of offensive private chats, Pedro Pierluisi, who Rosselló had picked as secretary of state earlier that week, was sworn in; the secretary of state position would place Pierluisi next in the line of succession. But this immediately sparked legal questions and controversy, as by Friday afternoon, Puerto Rico's Senate had not actually confirmed Pierluisi as secretary of state yet. Some said that Pierluisi could be sworn in just with the House's approval, which he received, while others contended he needed approval from the Senate, too.

Now, Puerto Rico's Senate has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Pierluisi, The Associated Press reports, with Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz saying, "Puerto Rico is living a situation without historical precedent." San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also said on she would file an appeal challenging Pierluisi, NBC News reports.

The Senate's lawsuit will now be heard by Puerto Rico's Supreme Court, reports CBS' David Begnaud.

In a statement on Monday, Pierluisi said he would respect the result of the Senate's upcoming vote on his secretary of state position after previously saying he would resign were the vote not successful. Were he to do so, the next in line would be Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who previously said she has "no interest in occupying the position of governor." Brendan Morrow

July 2, 2019

House Democrats have officially filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department over its refusal to provide them with President Trump's tax returns, The New York Times reports.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee had previously issued a subpoena for Trump's tax returns, but the Treasury Department, led by Secretary Steven Mnuchin, refused to comply. In a letter to Democrats, Mnuchin in May argued that this "unprecedented" demand "lacks legitimate legislative purpose." Democrats had requested six years of Trump's tax returns under a 1924 law that says the IRS "shall furnish" tax returns when requested by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Now, Democrats on the panel are suing the Trump administration to get their hands on these tax returns in a legal battle that The Washington Post notes may ultimately end up in the Supreme Court. The complaint accuses the defendants, including Mnuchin, of mounting "an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight," arguing Mnuchin and others in the Trump administration "gravely misunderstand the operative law." Brendan Morrow

June 25, 2019

The Justice Department is suing Omarosa Manigault Newman, President Trump's friend turned foe, accusing her of not filing a financial disclosure report after she was fired from the White House.

Manigault Newman met Trump while appearing on the first of several seasons of his show The Apprentice, and she parlayed that relationship into a job as one his top aides. She was fired in December 2017, after less than a year in the White House. Once a government employee leaves their job, they are required to file the disclosure report, and in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the Justice Department said Manigault Newman was sent reminder emails but ignored them. The department is asking Manigault Newman pay a $50,000 penalty.

Manigault Newman's attorney, John Phillips, told USA Today this appears to be a case of the White House using the Justice Department to retaliate against his client. After she was fired, Manigault Newman became a fierce critic of Trump, writing a book about what she witnessed while working for him (in turn, he went on the attack, calling her "wacky"). Phillips said Manigault Newman wrote emails and made phone calls asking for seven boxes of documents she needed to fill out the report; she was told they would be sent to her on May 10, after the deadline to file, but they never came, Phillips said. Catherine Garcia

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