Hollywood Docket: Superhero Jewelry; Tom Cruise Trial; 'Shark Tank' Drama
A roundup of the week’s entertainment law news, including sexual abuse claims against a radio star and Sandra Bullock’s legal battle.
Marvel has filed suit against jewelry maker JewelM, accusing the company of violating an agreement under which it could sell Marvel-inspired pieces.
The lawsuit, filed last month in New York, claims Marvel granted a 2011 license for JewelM to sell merchandise based on Marvel’s characters -- Captain America dog tags, Spider-Man earrings, Thor belt buckles. But Marvel alleges that the license was conditioned on JewelM getting Marvel's approval for each product before selling. Marvel says JewelM didn't receive prior approval.
When the license expired in March, JewelM allegedly sold all its inventory -- 50,000 licensed articles, such as Wolverine cuff links and Hulk necklaces -- "despite the expiration of the JewelM License Agreement."
Now faced with a marketplace flooded with Iron Man wristbands and Captain America money clips, Marvel is suing for breach of contract, copyright and trademark violations, false advertising and other charges. The comic book giant also seeks attorneys’ fees. Here's the complaint.
In other entertainment law news...
- A tentative trial date has been set in Tom Cruise's $50-million defamation lawsuit against Bauer Publishing Company, the publisher of Life & Style and In Touch magazine, for suggesting he abandoned his daughter, Suri. Barring settlement or delays, the case would reach a jury's ears on June 10, 2014. The parties expect a five-day trial. Cruise sued in October, and in a February report, his legal team said discovery would be taken regarding "Bauer's history of bigotry and hatred toward minority religious groups and their members." The case was ordered to a nonbinding private settlement conference in March, but the parties aren't expecting to hash out a deal. Cruise's lawyer told THR that "Tom is going to want to push this one all the way."
- Sony Television is being sued for $50 million for allegedly interfering with Shark Tank stars Daymond John and Robert Herjavec agreeing to provide services to a real-life Florida-based "Shark Tour." The two TV sharks appear to have canceled their speaking gigs after a dispute erupted over trademark rights to "Shark Tour." Here's the complaint.
- After Sandra Bullock sued watchmaker ToyWatch USA over watches sold with her name and likeness without her consent, ToyWatch’s insurance company has now filed its own suit against Bullock. ToyWatch has an insurance policy that may cover damages awarded to Bullock should she win; the insurance company has brought the matter before a judge hoping to be let off the hook for those payments.
- The cancelation of Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo’s popular radio show “Piolin por la Manana” came out of the blue for Sotelo’s fans. But new documents reveal the cancelation followed allegations by a performer on the show that Sotelo had been “physically, sexually and emotionally harassing” him for a three-year period ending in January. In an April 16 letter from Alberto Cortez’s lawyer to execs at Univision -- which broadcast and nationally syndicated Sotelo’s show -- Cortez claims Sotelo called him a derogatory term for a homosexual, grabbed his buttocks and genitals, and made other abuses. Piolin attorney Jeffrey Spitz responded in a statement to the LA Times, “A disgruntled, troubled employee has made malicious and false claims. … The employee's allegations of harassment and falsification of immigration letters are pure fiction intended to gain a financial settlement."
- Hertz Lichtenstein & Young have brought on Jamie Young and Eric Galen as partners. Young, a music industry expert, counts Celine Dion, Perry Farrell, and Demi Lovato among her clients. Galen specializes in digital media and technology.
- Barbara M. Rubin will head Glaser Weil’s entertainment department. Rubin formerly headed business and legal affairs for Spelling Television, A&E and Rysher Television and joined Glaser Weil as a partner earlier this year.