Reviewing 5 of February's top stories

Apple's trademark war, the fallout of the Carnival cruise ship crash, Martha-who-cannot-be-destroyed and more

iPad Injunction

Apple Inc. won a major battle in its trademark war with Chinese firm Proview Technology, as a Shanghai court denied Proview’s request to ban iPad sales in the city. Apple claims that it purchased the iPad trademark rights for China from Proview in 2009. For its part, Proview says that the rights do not apply to mainland China, and that all exports, imports and sales of the iPad in China should be halted.

The Shanghai verdict was a much-needed relief for the technology giant, after unfavorable rulings in the southern province of Guandong banned the sale of iPads in the country. An appeal of that decision is pending.

Meanwhile, Apple is seeking to ban the sale of Samsung’s new Galaxy phone, claiming patent infringement.

Macy’s v. Martha

After her 2004 prison stint, Martha Stewart said she had learned that she “really cannot be destroyed.” It would appear that Macy’s is trying to test that assertion by entering into an escalating legal battle with the homemaking maven.

The trouble began when Macy’s filed suit against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. on Jan. 23, alleging that the media and merchandising company had breached a 2006 contract by entering into a competing agreement to sell her products at J.C. Penney Co. starting in 2013.

Tensions heightened on Feb. 2, when Macy’s asked New York Supreme Court Justice Jeffery Oing for a preliminary injunction against the domestic diva’s company. Macy’s claimed that the move was necessary to prevent the department store from “suffering immediate, continuing and incalculable harm.”

Martha Stewart Living fired back a few weeks later, saying that “Macy’s simply has no exclusive rights to [Martha Stewart Living’s] creativity or design concepts, now or in the future.” The company also accused Macy’s of using Stewart’s name to attract shoppers, then promoting its own private brands over hers.

Kodak

Just when you thought the news couldn’t get worse, the bankrupt Kodak Co. is facing yet another slew of lawsuits. The company filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 19, after failed attempts to fend off insolvency by selling patents and making changes to its leadership.

More recently, a Kodak employee has filed a civil lawsuit against Kodak’s board of directors, alleging that the company failed to disclose its financial problems to employees participating in its investment and stock plans.

And to add potentially costly insult to injury, Kodak may face a patent infringement suit from Apple. On Feb. 14, the technology company asked a New York bankruptcy court for permission to sue the Kodak for alleged patent infringement of cameras, printers and digital picture frames.

Cruise Catastrophe

The Costa Concordia cruise ship saga continues, as new lawsuits are filed and new suspects emerge in the weeks after the Jan. 13 capsizing.

First, a crew member filed a class action suit against Carnival Corp., accusing the cruise line of negligence and breach of contract. Costa Concordia offered to pay $14,460 in damages to each uninjured passenger, but that didn’t satisfy victims of the disaster. In recent weeks, a growing group of passengers have joined a lawsuit, previously filed in Miami, that accuses the cruise ship owner of gross negligence and fraud, and asks for at least $528 million in damages.

The news got worse on Feb. 22, when eight more bodies were recovered on the ship, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 25. Seven passengers are still missing. Italian prosecutors also placed seven additional cruise line employees under investigation.

Read more about the Costa Concordia case in the April issue of InsideCounsel.

Workers’ Woes

Two controversial right-to-work bills are making headlines in Indiana and Ohio.

On Jan. 26, the Indiana House passed a right-to-work bill, which would end mandated union dues for employees. On Feb. 1, the state’s Republic Senate passed the bill as well, making Indiana the 23rd state to adopt such legislation.

Many Indiana Democrats opposed the law, arguing that the bill could weaken unions, decrease salaries and negatively impact working conditions. The law also met with swift condemnation from the unions themselves. Reuters reports that Indiana union members sued to block the legislation on Feb. 22, claiming that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

But Indiana’s neighbors may not be so reluctant: A group called Ohioans for Workplace Freedom is currently soliciting support for its own right-to-work amendment, which it hopes to put to a vote. The organization will need at least 386,000 signatures to put the proposed law on the ballot.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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