May 18, 2021

Peruemb

The World's Local Health

Procedural Posture

2 min read
Procedural Posture

 

Plaintiff singer sued defendant record company, alleging, inter alia, misappropriation of her name and voice for commercial purposes under Cal. Civ. Code § 3344, common law invasion of privacy, and unfair competition under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. The record company moved for summary judgment.

Overview

The singer alleged that record company misappropriated her voice and name in connection with a sound recording and video by another artist. The record company argued, inter alia, that the state law claims were preempted by the Copyright Act. The court concluded that the singer’s state law claims were preempted because she failed to show that the use of her voice in a sound recording amounted to the use of her identity. Although the singer claimed that the record company used the song without permission, the record company had in fact received permission to use the sound recording, in the form of a license, from the rightful copyright owner. The record company had complied with the license agreement by including the singer’s name on the song jacket. Thus, the court concluded that the singer’s state law claims actually arose from the record company’s use, reproduction, and distribution of the copyrighted sound recording, not from the misappropriation of the singer’s voice and name. As a result, the claims were preempted by 17 U.S.C.S. § 301(a). Appellant was represented by a business lawyer.

Outcome

The motion for summary judgment was granted.

Procedural Posture

In a diversity action for declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 16600, 17200 wherein plaintiff former employee was attempting to invalidate an anti-competition covenant with defendant former employer, the employer sought summary judgment on the ground that a case or controversy no longer existed.

Overview

The employer was a graphics design firm that primarily developed and prepared corporate communications. The employee resigned and went to work for a similar firm. The employer consistently maintained that it did not intend to prevent the employee from competing with its firm within California. However, it had provided ambiguous statements with respect to competitive activities outside of California. During his deposition, though, a chief executive officer asserted the employer’s lack of intention to enforce the covenant against the employee regardless of geography. Defense counsel, at a hearing on the motion, categorically committed to that position. He also stated that the employer would not restrict the employee’s use of certain vendors that it also used. Counsel, however, reserved the right to pursue a suit in the future should the employee misappropriate trade secrets. The court granted the motion. According to the court, counsel’s statements regarding the covenant rendered the action moot. Further, it held that it could not adjudicate the hypothetical of the employee possibly violating a trade secret sometime in the future.

Outcome

The court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment.