News

Lawsuit Against Apple Can Continue, SCOTUS Rules

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that consumers could forge ahead with a lawsuit against Apple over the way it manages its App Store, The Washington Post reports. The 5-4 decision allows device owners to proceed with a case that alleges Apple has acted as a monopoly by requiring iPhone and iPad users to download apps only from its portal while taking a cut of some sales made through the store. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the court's liberal justices in the 5-4 decision, authored the opinion in the case.
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Men Charged With Economic Espionage to Benefit Business Interests, China

An American engineer, and a Chinese businessman were charged on Tuesday with economic espionage for a plan to steal sophisticated turbine designs for the benefit of China and their business interests, The Washington Post reports. The indictment alleges that Xiaoqing Zheng of New York conspired with Zhaoxi Zhang of China to procure and disseminate plans for the turbines, which are trademarked and produced by GE. Though the defendants are not accused of being government spies or officials, both men held meetings with Communist Party officials to discuss a “strategic partnership” regarding development of aerospace technology. Authorities say that Zheng used an encryption technique called “steganography,” which hides secret messages in otherwise normal computer files and images.

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Intellectual Property CLE Blast, May 10

Who doesn’t love a blast? This year’s Intellectual Property Blast on May 10 in Nashville will include presentations on patent, trademark and copyright issues. Three hours of ethics will be offered. Practitioners may attend any or all of the presentations based on their learning needs. Don’t forget to RSVP at cle.tba.org to let us know that you are coming! 
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Supreme Court Considers ‘FUCT’ Trademark Case

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by summer over whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office unconstitutionally denied trademark protection to the “FUCT” clothing line, NPR reports. Designer Eric Brunetti has been attempting to get the brand trademarked since he opened the clothing line in 1990. The office claims that the name of his brand violates the federal statute that bars trademark protections for offensive, shocking, immoral and scandalous words. Two-years ago Brunetti's case was strengthened following the Supreme Court's ruling that trademark protection of the Asian-American band name titled "The Slants" could not be denied. The office claimed the name was denied protection because it is racially disparaging, but the court ruled that the office's denial signified unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

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Paypal’s Patent to Fight Crypto Ransomware Approved

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently approved a patent, originally filed in 2016, that aims to end crypto ransomware, CoinGeek reports. PayPal developed the technology to better detect the malware and prevent potential victims from being locked out of their own accounts. This is a global problem impacting law enforcement officials, individuals and companies, according to the story. Companies have reported a 90% increase in ransomware costs for the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter of 2018.      

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5 New Job Postings on TBA’s Joblink

See who is hiring in Tennessee. Recent job postings this month offer opportunities in litigation, real estate, health law and more. See full listings or post positions in your firm on TBA’s Joblink.
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Convention Hotel Deadline THIS FRIDAY

The cut off to reserve your hotel room at the discounted rate is 5 p.m. on Friday, May 17. 

The Tennessee Bar Association returns to Downtown Nashville's Renaissance Hotel for its Annual Convention June 12-15, with even better programming, exhibits and fun! Register NOW and receive:

  • Free Access to ALL 9 Hours of CLE, including the Bench Bar Program, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Judicial Conference
  • Opening welcome reception
  • Bench Bar Luncheon (featuring keynote speaker, Ken Starr)
  • Law School and General Breakfasts
  • Lawyers Luncheon (featuring special honor for Sen. Lamar Alexander)
  • Thursday night joint reception sponsored with TLAW and TABL
  • Thursday night Dinner/Dance Party featuring My So-Called Band
  • Friday night TBALL/YLD Party
  • Access to activities and programming designed for well-being including massages, contemplative space and more.
  • Access to TBA's sponsorship hall to meet with exhibitors, participate in our special TBA Wellness Corner and win prizes.
• QUESTIONS: Just email convention@tnbar.org to get help.
 
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Help4TNDay Kicks Off Saturday

Tennessee lawyers are invited to participate in Help4TNDay activities throughout the month of April. Events will bring attention to the ongoing need for free and low-cost legal services and highlight the groups that provide these services to disadvantaged Tennesseans. Opportunities include volunteering to help clients in need through Tennessee Free Legal Answers (TFLA) or at a local legal clinic. The events kick-off this Saturday with a statewide virtual legal clinic, where attorneys across the state will answer questions on TFLA from noon to 2 p.m. Simultaneously, the TBA will host an on-site TFLA Clinic and Luncheon in Nashville. To participate in the TBA event, contact Liz Todaro. Help4TNDay is a joint effort by the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association. 
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Registration Now Open for TBA Convention in Nashville, June 12-15

The TBA's annual Convention returns to downtown Nashville this summer! Mark your calendars for June 12-15 and prepare for four days of CLE, networking, entertainment and more at the Renaissance Hotel, 611 Commerce Street. Registration is officially open, with early bird rates available until April 30.
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Tesla Files Suits Against Former Employees for Trade Secret Theft

Tesla is suing former engineer Guangzhi Cao for allegedly stealing the source code of the company’s Autopilot technology before joining China’s self-driving car startup Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company, Wired reports. Cao is accused of uploading over 300,000 files to his personal cloud account before leaving for another job. Lawyers for Tesla also filed separate suits last week against four other former employees and the U.S. self-driving car startup Zoox Inc. The suit claims that after leaving Tesla and while working at Zoox, four employees used stolen proprietary information and trade secrets related to warehousing, logistics and inventory control operations to improve Zoox’s operations.  

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EU’s Copyright Directive Passes Final Vote

The controversial legislative package known as the Copyright Directive received final approval on Tuesday in a 348-274 vote by the European Union, The Verge reports. The overhaul contained two controversial articles that remained intact in the final version, Article 11 and 13. Article 11, sometimes called the link tax, will allow publishers to charge platforms, like Google, that display snippets and links to its news stories. Article 13, renamed Article 17 and also known as the upload filter, holds companies, like YouTube, responsible when its users upload copyrighted content. Critics argue Article 13 will stifle free speech and restrict people’s ability to share content online. Upload filters, which scan all user uploaded content for possible copyrighted content, may be implemented by companies in order to avoid penalties. EU member states must incorporate the new laws into their respective national laws within 24 months.

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Peloton Faces $150 Million Music Licensing Suit

The National Music Publishers’ Association has sued exercise bike maker Peloton for $150 million in damages over its improper use of songs, Billboard reports. The suit claims the company used more than 1,000 songs for its streaming exercise classes without obtaining the correct music licenses. CEO John Foley sent a letter to Peloton members on Monday responding to the lawsuit and informing them that classes featuring songs named in the lawsuit would no longer be available.

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LGBT Law Annual Forum 2019

Register now for the TBA LGBT Law Annual Forum to take place on June 21 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Timely topics for this year’s program will include laws concerning conversion therapy, an inside look at Vanderbilt’s Clinic for Transgender Health, ethical considerations regarding discrimination and employment law, ending the day with an LGBT community advocacy panel open to the public. The forum will be held in conjunction with the 2019 Nashville Pride Festival, allowing attendees to take advantage of the fun and activities surrounding the celebration. Don’t miss what guarantees to be an insightful forum and one of the nation’s premier Pride festivals! Here’s the key info:
 
When: Friday, June 21, registration begins at 11 a.m., CDT
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
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Next Thursday: Business Law Forum

Register now for the TBA Business Law Forum 2019.
 
This program will help business lawyers learn and refresh their knowledge about issues that may arise when drafting an LLC operating agreement. Topics will include an overview of the two extant Tennessee LLC acts and a comparison of those acts with the Delaware LLC Act; other distinctions of Tennessee law that impact the operating agreement; drafting key provisions, including distribution and allocation, employee and member compensation, and exit rights; and ethical considerations for lawyers drafting LLC operating agreements.
 
When: Thursday, May 9. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville

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Facial Recognition Scanning on the Rise Amid Concerns for Privacy, Accuracy

A new piece in the ABA Journal examines the rise of facial recognition software and addresses the reality that it’s likely here to stay. Prominent examples include the use of facial recognition at Taylor Swift concerts to spot known stalkers of the pop star, plans to add such capabilities to customs inspection areas at Tokyo Narita Airport, as well as numerous uses in retail. Despite advances in the technology, privacy and civil rights groups are concerned that it remains prone to error. A 2018 study, for example, showed a 34 percent error rate in identifying darker-skinned women.
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Court Seeking Comments on Proposed Rule 46A

The Tennessee Supreme Court is considering the adoption of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 46A, which would govern the electronic service of papers that are e-filed, and it is seeking comments from the legal community and the public on the proposed rule. The deadline for submitting written comments is March 22. Comments should be e-mailed to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or mailed to: James M. Hivner, Clerk, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219-1407.
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Gov. Lee Provides Avenue for Public Feedback on Legislation

Gov. Bill Lee has taken an additional step in his commitment to “an open and transparent government,” creating a webpage for the public to view and provide feedback on legislation that has been submitted to him for consideration. Lee maintains that involving Tennesseans into the process more directly will increase accountability in how laws are made. The site will be updated regularly, as bills pass the Legislature and land on his desk.

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TBA to Introduce Legal Document Generation

The TBA will soon launch a new subscription-based product for Tennessee lawyers — automated legal forms. The initiative will use HotDocs, a custom documentation generator that creates form templates and speeds up the preparation process based on client and case data. In order to provide this valuable resource to our members, we hope to obtain your comments and ideas on forms you deem beneficial for replication. With across-the-board participation, we can comprise a substantive, comprehensive database where subscribers will have access to forms submitted by all TBA sections. Please send suggestions and comments to TBA Membership Director Mindy Fulks.

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ABA House Passes Resolution on 'Fair Use' Doctrine

The American Bar Association House of Delegates today approved a resolution encouraging courts to take a consistent approach to the "fair use" doctrine, a defense to copyright infringement that permits use of copyrighted works for free without obtaining a license or permission in appropriate circumstances, The ABA Journal reports. The resolution, passed at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas, asks that repackaging and distribution of all, or nearly all, of a copyrighted work to the copyright owner’s actual or potential market not be deemed a “transformative” act in favor of fair use, regardless of whether the copyrighted material is delivered more efficiently.
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20 Gymboree and Crazy 8 Stores to Close in Tennessee

Change this to - Gymboree Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 16 and indicated it will close over 800 total stores in the United States and Canada — including 20 in Tennessee, the Daily News Journal reports. A press release from the company said it will conduct an auction by February 25. It also revealed that it has received a commitment for debtor-in-possession financing. The company plans to sell its Janie and Jack business, including its 139 stores, as well as the intellectual property and online platform for Gymboree. The music and art classes by Gymboree Play & Music were split from the company in 2016 and should not be affected by the court proceedings.

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Intellectual Property CLE Blast – May 10

Do not miss this blast style CLE! This program provides you with the flexibility to create your own schedule based on your individual interests, learning needs and time constraints. Come for one session or choose to stay the entire day - you only pay for the sessions you attend. The registration desk is open all day, so you can take the sessions you want and leave when you want.
 
It all takes place on Friday, May 10 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville.
 
2019 Sessions:
Patent Litigation Update: SCOTUS and the Federal Circuit
Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain
Adding a few prongs to your step: Substance and Preliminary Effects of the 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance
What's in a Name: Surnames as TrademarksEthics & Professionalism in Intellectual Property Law
Explaining the MMA & A General Advocacy Update
Updates Regarding Copyright-Infringement Litigation
Ethics & Professionalism in Intellectual Property Law
Flying Safely in the Cloud: What Lawyers Must Consider When Moving to Cloud Computing
 
Click here to check out the agenda, read the session descriptions and plan your day! Don't forget to sign-up to let us know you plan on attending.

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NPR: Adventure Series Book Publisher Sues Netflix Over Trademark

The publisher of the book series “Choose Your Own Adventure" is sueing Netflix for trademark infringement, NPR reports. The Netflix show Black Mirror contains the episode "Bandersnatch,” which allows viewers to make the decisions for the main character. CEO and publisher of Chooseco Shannon Gilligan believes the episode’s interactive narrative format and use of the phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure” violates their trademark and causes confusion for viewers regarding whether or not the book series is affiliated with the episode. Read the full interview between Gillogan and Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi of NPR’s Planet Money podcast here.

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IP, Trade Talks Between China and U.S. Continue This Week

Officials from China and the U.S. have yet to come to an agreement regarding trade and intellectual property issues, Bloomberg reports, but talks are set to resume this week. American officials confirmed the lack of progress and reported that China continued to deny the alleged IP theft and requested proof. China’s top economic emissary, Liu He, is scheduled to attend the next round of talks in Washington, D.C. this week.

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R. Kelly May Benefit Financially Despite Industry Splits

Although R. Kelly is no longer represented by his publisher and label following Lifetime’s Jan. 3 release of the documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which detailed allegations of years-long history of sexual assault, Rolling Stone reports that the artist may financially benefit from the event. The six-part series drew around 20 million viewers, caused a social media uproar, topped the news headlines and invoked protests and pressure from music fans and industry professionals for Sony, owner of RCA Record, to part ways with Kelly. Sony announced the separation from R. Kelly on Jan. 18. However, the split with his label is not a major blow to the artist’s career because as the article points out, “both parties will continue to profit off of all past music releases as long as those releases are in distribution.” Additionally, in order to avoid a lawsuit, RCA may have had to make a financial settlement with R. Kelly since he had two albums left on his contract. Although his publishing company, Universal Music Publishing Group, also no longer represents him, the company is still responsible for distributing his past work (681 songs). R. Kelly and his team adamantly deny the allegations. 

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Meditation Apps Help Incorporate Mindfulness Each Day

Consider a meditation app for your phone to help incorporate mindfulness into your day. The accessibility and variety of meditation apps can make them beneficial and easy to try. Some, such as Mindbody, Stop, Breathe & Think, 10% Happier, Breethe, Omvana, Insight Timer, Sattva Meditations & Mantras, and Smiling Mind (which can be tailored to different age groups) are free. Others, such as Calm, Headspace, and the Mindfulness App, have free trials and can be upgraded to a paid subscription. Comparisons of various apps are available on www.healthline.com or www.bestproducts.com.
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