Hollywood Docket: Monty Python Trial; Shakira's Ex-Boyfriend; 'Animal Practice' Idea Theft?
A roundup of entertainment law news including resolution of a trademark spat between the Coachella Music Festival and the makers of "Coach" luxury handbags.
Was the "the seventh Python" screwed out of profits on the hit musical Spamalot?
A trial is underway in London where Mark Forstater, a producer on the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, contends he's due money on "spin-offs" under a 1974 agreement between him and the Pythons, including surviving members Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones.
Forstater's lawyer said during opening arguments that he was getting a one-seventh share until 2005 until his share was allegedly reduced unilaterally to one-fourteenth.
According to Reuters, "Forstater sat with his lawyer, with the Pythons behind him. They did not talk. The Pythons listened with serious faces and exchanged occasional whispers."
In other entertainment and media law news:
- Shakira is being sued by her ex-boyfriend, Antonio de la Rúa, who alleges that he had a standing oral agreement with the pop star to share in the fruits of her success. Claiming at least $100 million in damages, the plaintiff alleges, "The combination of de la Rúa's business and marketing talents with Defendant's artistic talents, beauty and sex appeal succeeded in propelling the value of the partnership far beyond anything either had previously achieved or believed possible."
- The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Friday that Disney doesn't have to pay attorneys fees to the family of the owner of Winnie the Pooh rights in their long-running feud. The ruling upholds a 2010 denial of attorneys fees to Stephen Slesinger.
- The Coachella Music Festival can keep its name. Organizers of the annual musical event had been locked in a fight at the Trademark Office with the makers of Coach luxury handbags. Was "Coachella" likely to confuse consumers of purses? No matter. Earlier this month, the two parties struck a deal. Full terms of the agreement haven't been made public, but as part of the settlement, Coach Services Inc. agreed to back down on the music festival's attempts to register a trademark on goods that included plastic water bottles and hooded sweat shirts.
- Mary J. Blige is being sued by a bank for allegedly defaulting on a $2.2 million loan. The R&B singer and her husband allegedly executed a promissory note in October, 2011. Blige is also dealing with a separate lawsuit that contends her charity mishandled payments to musicians performing at a charity event.
- A show about a veterinary office featuring Crystal the Monkey as "Dr. Rizzo" wasn't the best idea. NBC's Animal Practice was canceled after just six episodes this autumn. But even bad ideas can spark idea theft lawsuits. On Monday, Duckhole, Inc. sued NBCUniversal, contending that the TV show was a misappropriation of a work entitled "PETS," registered as a treatment to the WGA by Paul J. Andre. His show would have featured "Bud," the resident pet of the veterinary office. The plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief against distribution of Animal Practice -- again, the show was canceled -- and disgorgement of all ill-gotten profits, saying his "copyright [work] is unique and valuable property having market value impractical to assess."
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