Miller v. Glenn Miller Prods., Inc.

PER CURIAM:
[1] Steven and Jonnie Miller, adopted children of Helen Miller, wife of the world-renowned bandleader Glenn Miller, and their exclusive licensing agent CMG Worldwide Inc. (collectively “Appellants”) appeal from the district court’s order granting defendant Glenn Miller Productions, Inc. (“GMP”) summary judgment and dismissing their complaint on the basis of laches. See Miller v. Glenn Miller Prods., 318 F. Supp. 2d 923 (C.D. Cal. 2004). GMP cross-appeals the district court’s determination that it is engaged in unauthorized sublicensing. In his well-reasoned opinion, District Judge A.Howard Matz ruled that a licensee of trademark and related publicity rights may not sublicense those rights to third parties without express permission from the original licensor. Id. at 939. We agree with this extension of the well-established “sublicensing rule” from copyright and patent law to the licensing of trademark and related publicity rights such as occurred here, and with the district court’s reasons for extending the rule. The district court also correctly ruled, however, that Appellants are barred by the doctrine of laches from taking legal action now, based on undisputed evidence establishing that they should have known of GMP’s allegedly infringing activities well beyond the statutory period for bringing suit. Id. at 944-45. Accordingly, we affirm and adopt the district court’s thorough opinion with the exception of Section C.5 (id. at 945-46) and the final three sentences of the opinion (id. at 946, beginning with “Alternatively, the Court rules”). We also reprint the incorporated portions as an appendix to this opinion.

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Laws v. Sony Music Entm't

BYBEE, Circuit Judge:
Plaintiff Debra Laws (“Laws”) brought suit against defendant Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. (“Sony”) for misappropriating her voice and name in the song “All I Have” by Jennifer Lopez and L.L. Cool J. The district court found that Sony had obtained a license to use a sample of Laws’s recording of “Very Special” and held that Laws’s claims for violation of her common law right to privacy and her statutory right of publicity were preempted by the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101-1332. We agree with the district court that the Copyright Act preempts Laws’s claims, and we affirm.

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Andretti v. Borla

RALPH B. GUY, JR., Circuit Judge. This case involves a dispute over Mario Andretti’s right of publicity. Mario Andretti and Car Sound Exhaust System, Inc. (Car Sound) entered into a contract in which Andretti agreed to be Car Sound’s corporate spokesperson. During the contract period, defendant Borla Performance Industries, Inc. (Borla) advertised a statement Andretti had made about Borla’s product. Andretti had no prior knowledge and did not give Borla permission to use his name or quotation. Andretti and M.A. 500, Inc. (collectively, “Andretti”) sued Borla, seeking a permanent injunction and damages for violating Andretti’s right to publicity, tortiously interfering with a business relationship, violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, quantum meruit, violating the Lanham Act §§ 1125(a) and 1125(c), and unfair competition. The district court granted summary judgment to Borla on all the damage claims, but issued the permanent injunction against Borla sought by Andretti. The court then awarded Rule 11 sanctions against Andretti, ordered Andretti to pay the costs incurred by Borla after it made an unsuccessful Rule 68 offer of judgment, denied Borla’s other requests for costs and fees, and denied Andretti’s request for costs. We affirm the district court’s rulings on every issue.

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