Lawyer’s Agreement to Online Terms if Investigating a Claim May Bind a Client

Knapke sued PeopleConnect for alleged violations of her publicity rights under Ohio law. PeopleConnect moved to compel arbitration on the basis that Knapke’s counsel Reilly assented to the terms of service in the course of his pre-filing investigative efforts. The…

Who Owns a Disputed Social Media Account? – JLM v. Gutman

Who Owns a Disputed Social Media Account? – JLM v. Gutman

This is a case focusing on ownership of social media accounts. The dispute is between bridalwear designer Hayley Paige Gutman and JLM Couture, a bridalwear company. We blogged this case twice before. (See “Social Media Ownership Disputes Part II: Bridal…

Three More Yearbook/People Database Cases Signal Trouble for Defendants

Three More Yearbook/People Database Cases Signal Trouble for Defendants

Yearbook/people database opinions are being issued faster than I can blog them. They are not going well for defendants. The opinions are so lengthy and repetitive that I’m just going to cut-and-paste the parts I think are relatively noteworthy. Sorry…

Facebook Can't Shake Publicity Rights Claim--Hepp v. Facebook

Facebook Can’t Shake Publicity Rights Claim–Hepp v. Facebook

Third parties created ads featuring Hepp without her consent. From the complaint (Hepp is the upper right image; the photo was taken from security camera footage): Facebook ran some of the ads featuring Hepp’s image. The district court dismissed Hepp’s…

If a Lawyer Accepts a TOS While Investigating a Claim, Does It Bind the Client to Arbitration?

Judge Chen (of the Northern District of California) answered this question “no”. The Ninth Circuit affirms in a memorandum opinion. This is a putative class action lawsuit against a people search company for allegedly misusing publicity and personality rights by…

Trademark Registration of Political Messages for Expressive Merchandise–In re Elster (Guest Blog Post)

By guest blogger Lisa Ramsey, Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law Federal Circuit holds refusal to register a political message for T-shirts violates the First Amendment, but fails to acknowledge that these types of registrations can…

Another Confused Entry in the Social Media Account Ownership Jurisprudence--JLM v. Gutman

Another Confused Entry in the Social Media Account Ownership Jurisprudence–JLM v. Gutman

This is a lawsuit between a wedding gown company, JLM, and Hayley Paige Gutman, a designer/influencer who worked for JLM. For background, check out my post on the district court’s ruling here: “Social Media Ownership Disputes Part II: Bridal Wear…

Yearbook Defendants Lose Two More Section 230 Rulings

Yearbook Defendants Lose Two More Section 230 Rulings

2021 has seen the emergence of a litigation genre against “yearbook” database vendors that publish old yearbooks online. I’ve blogged three yearbook cases so far this year (Callahan v. Ancestry, Knapke v. Classmates, and Sessa v. Ancestry), and today I’ll…

Yearbook Database Cases Are Vexing the Courts--Sessa v. Ancestry

Yearbook Database Cases Are Vexing the Courts–Sessa v. Ancestry

This is another entry in the genre of publicity rights cases against commercial databases vending information about people. Courts are struggling with how to analyze these cases, especially in the context of paywalled yearbook databases. This ruling turns into a…

Third Circuit Says Section 230 Doesn't Apply to Publicity Rights Claims--Hepp v. Facebook

Third Circuit Says Section 230 Doesn’t Apply to Publicity Rights Claims–Hepp v. Facebook

The Third Circuit ruled today that Section 230 doesn’t preempt publicity rights claims because they qualify as “intellectual property” claims. This ruling directly conflicts with the Ninth Circuit’s rule, which says that all state IP claims are preempted by Section…