For those of you that watched the red carpet happenings at last year’s Golden Globe Awards, you may have noticed the “Fiji Water Girl”, a model standing ready to keep Hollywood glitterati hydrated with bottles of Fiji water, photobombing numerous shots of celebrities.  Her presence on the red carpet created a social media firestorm and

Actors gain notoriety for different reasons.  For some, it’s due to a physical characteristic or an iconic character portrayal.  For Alfonso Ribeiro, it’s a dance.  The dance, which has become known worldwide as the “Carlton Dance,” is a corny dance number performed by Ribeiro’s character Carlton Banks on the 90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of

In business, there are numerous Scott-Hervey-10-webopportunities for pitfalls, mistakes and errors and they come up in all different legal areas – from basic formation issues to labor and employment to intellectual property. Mistakes and missteps involving intellectual property can be particularly problematic because IP is a company asset; it constitutes a part of (often a significant part of) a company’s valuation. In my 20 years working with start-up companies – and even fully grown-up companies, I have seen mistakes involving company intellectual property prove to be disastrous. With careful planning and good counsel, these mistakes are completely avoidable.

#1. Failure To Transfer the IP From The Founder Into the Company. It is a foundational item for any company – if the company is being formed around a piece of IP or if a piece of IP is intended for use by a company, the company should make sure the founder that owns the IP must contribute it to the company. While a very basic issue, this problem plagues more start-ups than you can imagine. Most often it happens during the informal, pre-formation time frame when founders are kicking around an idea and developing code and no one has consulted a lawyer. Conflict between the founders develop and there is a divergence of opinion on the value brought to the table by the non-developer founders; the developers decide to split with the IP and form a new company. While this will likely generate lawsuits just as soon as the developer’s company is in a financing round, the non-developer founders will very likely not receive as much as they would have had the IP been properly assigned to the company.


Continue Reading Five IP Pitfalls That Start-Up (and Grown Up) Companies Can Easily Avoid

For those of us old enough to remember, the bars, restaurants and salons of Europe were once literally awash in smoke so thick you could cut it with the proverbial knife. Starting at least a decade ago, however, certain EU countries began requiring extremely large, graphic health warnings on all tobacco products that were 60% of the packaging, as well as ensuring that cigarette packaging be childproof. These warnings included (and still do) pictures of people with their teeth falling out, or torn-out tracheas, or printed warnings stating that smoking will make users impotent, etc. Not a pretty picture. Literally. Such EU-sanctioned warnings went well beyond the generalized “surgeon general” warnings applied in small print to US cigarette packaging.


Continue Reading No E-Smoking Please, We Are European!

By: Scott Hervey

Every practitioner should teach law school at least once. This year I am teaching Entertainment Law at the University of California at Davis. (Although flying up from and back to L.A. once a week can be a bit of a drag, so far it is a good experience.) Finding issues to trigger discussion and debate in class is forcing me to look at cases much differently. Since I already know the general holdings of the cases I am teaching, I find myself spending more time analyzing the dissenting opinion and loosing party’s position, looking for points that can foster robust in-class discussion. This week, in preparing for a class session on right of publicity, I re-read the recent 9th Circuit case of Keller v. Electronic Arts and found myself questioning whether the courts have changed the Transformative Use test set forth by the California Supreme Court and used to analyze a conflict between right of publicity and First Amendment protected speech.

The facts of Keller are straight forward. Electronic Arts produced an NCAA Football series of video games which allowed users to control avatars representing college football players and participate in simulated football games. In NCAA Football, EA replicated each school’s entire team as accurately as possible and every football player avatar had a jersey number and virtually identical height, weight, build, skin tone, hair color and home state as each real life player. EA’s player avatars reflect all of the real life attributes of the NCAA players; the only exception is that EA omitted the real life player’s name from the corresponding avatar and assigned the avatar a hometown that is different from the real player’s hometown.


Continue Reading Did The California Court Of Appeals Transform The Transformative Use Test in Right of Publicity Cases?