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Wal-Mart Case Essay, Research Paper

Wal-Mart: Copyright and Trademark Lawsuit

CITE: March 23, 2000 Wall Street Journal

FACTS: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. won by a children-clothing designer, Samara Brother Inc., after it sued the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant and five other retailers in 1996 for copyright and trademark violations.

Wal-Mart had a manufactured contract with a supplier in 1995 for a line of children s clothing based on photographs of Samara who has sued Wal-Mart in the past for copyright and trademark violation. Samara presented that their products have a distinctive look and style that customers can associate with them, thus still meeting the standard for trademark protection for design, known as trade-dress protection. Samara also argued that their distinctive design of its children s wear gave a unique look that identified it in consumers mind as coming from Samara.

Unfortunately, Justice Antonon Scalia, said that Samara s line wasn t protected by trademark law because Samara s products seem not inherently distinctive by its design, like color. It results that Wal-Mart wins the case by its merchandise-buying process. Now, under the high court s decision, the case will turn to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to be judged based on the guideline set by the Supreme Court.


1. Under Trade Dress Guideline

h You can t duplicate a highly distinctive style to the point where consumers would be confused.

2. Under Copyright Protection

h The holder of a copyright owns the particular tangible expression of an idea, but not the underlying idea or method of operation.

h Under Supreme Court ruling, a company or designer would have the additional burden of providing that people associate the design with the maker.

3. Under Counterfeiting Laws

h You can t use the logo and label of a designer to impersonate a product.

4. Under Trademark Laws

h A trademark is any combination of words and symbols that a business uses to identify its products or services.

h Trademark must be distinctive.

COMMENT: According to the article, Wal-Mart wins reversal in Lawsuit over Trademarks, is a copyright and trademark lawsuit and Wal-Mart won the case versus Samara Brother Inc. The decision of the Justice seems relevant if it is judged over Laws words by words. As my understanding, U.S. Trademark Law does not protect certain distinctive styles, but most companies don t bother with registering them. Brett Meyer, a copyright and trademark lawyer, said general run-of-mill basic designs, there is nothing that manufacturer can do to stop knockoffs.

I think that the Laws of Copyright and Trademark lifts a potential cloud and unclear spots. It results that some companies can easily take advantage from the spots. Undoubted, Copyright is to protect people s innovative ideas. Copyright should be guild under enforcement in order to motivate innovation and avoid Me Too products or services.


- Judge s decision is bad news for Red Sox.

CITE: Tuesday, April 18th, 2000 BOSTON GLOBE

FACTS: William Weld, the governor of Massachusetts promised the city $10 million for the project of ballpark. The governor never said where he would get the money, but Springfield officials decided to pin the city s economic dream on a baseball field of dreams. When Red Sox came to collect on the Weld promise , Beacon Hill turned them down.

Superior Court Judge of Massachusetts ruled against Public Land-Taking for a ballpark proposed in Springfield. The decision of Judge Constance Sweeney is appalling in

1. the stubborn arrogance of some public officials to force their definition of public good on the public

2. intriguing the legal limits of Land-Taking by eminent domain

Judge s ruling is relevant that Springfield s attempt to take a downtown shopping mall and machine shop to create a ballpark did not serve a public purpose. Judge Sweeney s decision hinged on opinions issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Red Sox argued that SJC has ruled that governmental acquisition of land and the financing and construction of a sports stadium may be considered a valid public purpose.

The Boston City Council will also have to approve any eminent domain taking. Herbert Gleason, a former city corporation counsel in Boston, said The Springfield case deals not just with the process in Springfield, which is obviously offended Judge Sweeney, but with public purpose in eminent domain taking.

LAWS: A Sport Stadium may be considered as a valid public purpose:

1. if the expenditure of public funds

2. if extension of public privileges, power, and exemptions and the use, rental, and operation of the projects

are adequately governed by appropriate standards and principles set out in the legislation.

It is also a fundamental principle of law that government can only exercise its eminent domain power for a public purpose.

COMMENT: The decision of Judge Sweeney is quit fair, but there is space left which is needed to be discussed. Obviously, Taxpayer dollars should not be used to build stadium for the purpose of benefiting privately owned baseball franchises. The Red Sox must show a public purpose beyond that of giving baseball fans a better ballpark. On the other hand, if Red Sox can show a public purpose of proving a better sport environment, government must show how that public purpose will be enforced.

AIR-RAGE DISRUPTION-New Law for increases the penalties

CITE: April 8th, 2000 Boston Globe

FACTS: The number of passengers who attack flight crew members of disrupt service through violence or abusive behavior is happened in the past years. Although infrequent, the disruptions threaten the safe operation of airplanes. President Clinton signed the Bill of Federal Aviation Administration, which is increasing the fine of Air-Rage Disruption. Officials at the Association of Flight Attendants, the union representing more than 47,000 flight attendants at most of the nation s airlines, are praising the bill.

In addition, the union is also trying to work with carriers to control the amount of alcohol served on flights, because most air-rage disturbance involve drunk passengers. While the flight attendants union does not favor banning alcohol on flights, the union is asking airline to serve only one drink at a time and no longer reward passengers with free alcohol beverages as compensation for airline errors. Cynthia Kain, a spokeswoman for the association, said, That simply furthers the belief that drinks will be free-flowing on the plane,

LAWS: Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill is signed of the measure increased fines from $1,100 to $25,000 for passengers who found guilty in interfering with an airline crew member.

Carriers should control the amount of Alcohol served on Flight.

h It is unlawful to serve an intoxicated person alcohol beverage

COMMENT: This case should be evaluated not only the safe plane operation but also the alcohol beverage served. The decision is just and fair as increasing the fine of interfering with an airline crew member. The disruption can dangerous threatens the safe operation of the flight and it also causes serious consequences for the safety of other on-board passengers. However, the airline crew member should take some responsibility if the disruption is caused an intoxicated passenger. They should only serve one alcohol beverage at one time and ID check for under-age. Thus, on board alcohol beverages served should also be considered in order to avoid the disruption caused by an intoxicated passenger.

Bidder s Edge vs. Ebay- Injunction Online Auctioneer

CITE: April 17th, 2000 Wall Street Journal

FACTS: Ebay, a victory for the big online auctioneer with wide implications for Internet Commerce, alleged in a suit filed that Bidder s Edge violate the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by using information from eBay auction. Bidder s Edge, of Burlington Mass., is one of several aggregators that combine and compare information listed on the sites of eBay, Yahoo!Inc., Amazon.com. and other auction operators. A federal judge plans to issue a preliminary injunction against Bidder s Edge Inc. in a suit brought by Ebay Inc. Ebay argues that it is unlawful to take the information from Web site and use them in your own commercial purposes. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte is expected to order Bidder s Edge to stop drawing information from eBay s Web site.

Legal Scholars and intellectual-property Lawyers said such a ruling could set new standard in the debate between what is considered publicity available information on the Internet and what is the Copyright data that companies can charge others to use.

The final decision is expected within two weeks and Ebay agree to post a bond payment of about $50,000 to cover any loss to Bidder s Edge if the court concludes the injunction was wrongfully issued.

LAWS: Fraud refers that the deception of another person for the purpose of obtaining money or property from him. Computer Fraud is that one obtains money or property from another by using computer technology or Internet. This action is also considered as Crime and involves in Copyright Law under Intellectual-Property. Copyright infringement is easy on the Internet. Current Copyright law is uncertain and does not specifically protect copyrighted material on-line.

Copyright Act:

1. Digital Transmission,

2. Grant the copyright holder ownership of all on-line distribution rights,

3. Eliminate the fair use exception for electronic transmission,

4. Make it a crime to disable anti-copying techniques on-line.

Preliminary Injunction: A court orders a person either do or stop doing something.

COMMENT: In the 21st century, Internet becomes common for individual household, but there is not a specified law to guild the e-world. Legislation should come out a clear rule to restrict the violation of copyright issues and computer fraud over Internet.

If Bidder s Edge is proved for violation of Computer fraud and Copyright, they should be found enforced. By doing so, it can also warn other people and companies to respect intellectual-property and stop them by steal/copy information from other Web Site for commercial uses.

HATE-CRIME: who has right to decide the Sentencing? Judge? Jury?

CITE: March 28th, 2000 New York Times

FACTS: A Supreme Court argument on March 28th, 2000 on the constitutionality of New Jersey s unusual sentencing procedure for hate crimes, the justices appeared troubled by the state s law as well as the broader implications of overturning it.

New jersey and North Carolina are the only two states specify that the finding need not be beyond a reasonable doubt, and by a preponderance of the evidence in which judges are authorized rather than Juries to make the finding that bias was the motive certainly.

A recent case of unlawful possession of a firearm has been challenging New Jersey s Ethnic Intimidation Act. In the case, Mr. Apprendi received a sentence of 12 years instead of maximum of 10 he could otherwise have received.

On the other hand, Justice O Connor asked Mr. O neill who is the defendant s lawyer to note that in some states it is the judge who decides, after a jury s finding of guilt. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, an author of the federal sentencing guidelines told Mr. O niell: if I agree with you, I guess I m holding the Sentencing Commission unconstitutional because judges, not juries, apply the various factors that determine a defendant s sentence.

The court has struggled in several recent cases over where to draw the constitutional line between the respective roles of judge and jury in laws that provide for longer sentences when, for example, the defendant has used a gun in the commission of a crime or has a criminal record. In this decision last June upholding Mr. Apprendi s sentence, the New Jersey Supreme Court acknowledged the ferment in this area of criminal law and said, the final word on this subject will have to come from the United States Supreme Court.

Lisa S. Gochman, a deputy attorney general from New Jersey, who argued in defense of the law, emphasized the difference between intent and motive in criminal law. Whether a defendant had the requisite intent to commit the crime, essential to the finding of guilt, remained as it always has been, a question of motive, or why the defendant committed the crime, was traditionally treated as a sentencing factor, she said. A pointed response to this argument offered by Justice Thomas, You argue that if it s an element of the offense it goes to the jury and if it s a sentence enhancement it goes to the judge, and the difficulty I have is that you nowhere define what the distinction is.


Under the Sixth Amendment s right to trial by jury, there was an unbroken tradition that it was the jury that had to find the facts that could increase the sentence.


No matter what the outcome of the argument would be, there a FAIR JUDGEMENT must be made. In my point of view, it is not fair to leave the power of sentencing the crime on a person, Judge. Jury should have the power to find and to sentence the crimes, not judge, in order to avoid the bias judgement and discrimination. However, judges can have the power to extend the length of sentence up to the maximum based on the law. For example, in the case of Mr. Apprendi, he received a sentence of 12 years instead of maximum of 10 he could otherwise have received. If jury found him guilty and jury only sentenced him 8 years, then judge can extend the length of sentence up to 10 years maximum based on the law. Vice versa, if jury already found him 10 years sentence which is the maximum, Judge would not be able to extend the sentence anymore since the sentence is the maximum already.

Philip Morris: case of order to pay big money to Ex-Smoker.

CITE: March 21st, 2000 Wall Street Journal

FACTS: A State-Court Jury found that Philip Morris Cos. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holding Inc. misrepresented the health danger of cigarettes, and it ordered the companies to pay $1.7 million in compensatory damages to a former smokers dying of lung cancer and to her husband. The jury team also found the 2 largest tobacco companies had also acted malice and therefore could be found for punitive damage.

The plaintiff, 40-year-old Leslie Whiteley, began smoking in 1972, three years after government-mandated warning label appearing on cigarette packs. Ms. Whiteley was for years a heavy smoker and didn t even quit smoking while pregnant. Finally, she die of lung cancer after years of smoking.

The San Francisco jury found Philip Morris and R.J. Reynold were negligent in the design of their cigarettes and committed fraud in misleading people about the health hazards of smoking.

LAWS: Regulating Tobacco:

1. August 1996: FDA unveil landmark rule to regulate tobacco for the first time

2. April 1997: Federal judge rules government can regulate tobacco as a Drug, but limits on industry advertising are rejected.

3. November 1998: Forty-six stated embrace a $206 billion settlement with cigarette makers over health costs for treating sick smokers.

4. September 1999: Justice Department sues the tobacco industry to recover billions of government dollars spent on smoking-related health care.

5. March 21, 2000: Supreme Court rules, 5-4, the government lacks authority to regulate tobacco as an addictive Drug.

Damage means MONEY. There are two types of damages:

1. Compensatory damage: the court awards certain amount of money to plaintiff to compensate for what he or she has suffered.

2. Punitive damage: the punishment of defendant to avoid doing it again. It is also used to be a precedent to tell others not to do it.

Malice: Intention of a person does something and harms others on purposely.

Negligent: Negligence is hurting someone not purposely and unintentionally. In order to win a Negligence case, the plaintiff has to prove the following five elements:

1. Duty: the defendant has the duty of due care to the plaintiff.

2. Breach

3. Factual Case: the defendant caused and led to the injury

4. Foreseeable type of harm: the harm is predictable for the defendant.

5. Injury: plaintiff can show physically and psychologic injury.

Fraud: Fraud is a tort that always happened in a negotiation or contract. Fraud is to deceive other people purposely and the deception would injure others.

COMMENT: Compensatory damage is decided to compensate the harms of plaintiff. Thus the decision of the jury is correct. In the Tobacco makers cases, tobacco companies are negligence no doubtfully in misrepresenting the hazel of human body health. Punitive damage is also fair in this case since it can also warn other tobacco companies to be more aware on designing the warning label on the cigarette pack.

Overall the decision of the jury is just and fair. The outcome of this case also warns the tobacco manufacturers and companies to aware the hazel of their products. However, it sounds sort of unfair to punish only tobacco companies but not heavy smokers responsibility. My question: if tobacco companies try their best to warn public about the hazel of the tobacco products, should the smokers be responsible for their own health and behaviors to the additive drug, cigarettes?


Wal-Mart: case of Copyright and Trademark Violation

Red Sox: Public-Land Taking

Air-Rage Disruption: Increasing the fine

Bidder s Edge vs. eBay: Injunction Online Auctioneer

HATE-CRIME: who has right to decide the Sentencing? Judge? Jury?

Philip Morris: case of order to pay big money to Ex-Smoker.


LA 245

Professor Jeffrey Beatty

Section MW 10-12

Final paper

Due: April 24th, 2000

BUID#: U 94-44-6012

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