Legal Roundup: Jay-Z’s Former Record Label Settles NFT Suit, L’Oreal Patent Infringement Back in Court and More
Jay-Z’s Former Record Label Settles NFT Suit
The case: In one of the first lawsuits concerning non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, Roc-A-Fella Records sued co-founder Damon Dash in 2021 after he planned an NFT auction of his copyright interest in “Reasonable Doubt,” Jay-Z’s debut album.
Roc-A-Fella was founded in 1995 by Jay-Z, Dash and Kareem Burke. The suit alleged that “Dash does not even own ‘Reasonable Doubt’ or its copyright and, therefore, has no right to sell the album or any rights to it,” according to the complaint.
At the time, Roc-A-Fella won a restraining order blocking the sale of the NFT, but at issue was the ownership of the album, which Roc-A-Fella said belonged to the label, not to the individual co-founders, according to Reuters.
Scorecard: Roc-A-Fella is settling with Dash, who agrees that only the label, not the individuals, may sell the copyright of the album.
Takeaway: While Dash’s first effort to sell “Reasonable Doubt” was blocked, Roc-A-Fella felt it was only a matter of time before he would try again. “The agreement dismisses the case without prejudice, meaning the claims could be refiled in the future,” according to Reuters.
“Reasonable Doubt,” released in 1996, is considered a hip-hop classic.
L’Oreal Patent Infringement Back in Court
The case: In 2017, The University of Massachusetts Medical School and Carmel Laboratories sued L’Oréal for patent infringement in the District Court of Delaware over skin cream formulas.
“L’Oréal’s RevitaLift moisturizer and unnamed products for Maybelline, Lancôme, and other L’Oréal brands use UMass’ technology for skin creams with the chemical adenosine,” Reuters reported.
The court found that UMass’ patent interpretations were too vague because they covered “a specific concentration of adenosine that reaches the dermal cells below the skin’s outer layer,” according to Reuters. The plaintiffs appealed the case.
Scorecard: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that L’Oréal must face UMass and Carmel in court.
Takeaway: “The Federal Circuit on Monday revived the patents after finding they instead cover a specific amount of adenosine applied to the skin’s surface,” per Reuters.
“The appeals court said its decision ‘eliminates an important premise’ of the invalidity ruling and sent the case back for more proceedings,” according to Reuters, which noted that Carmel is “a subsidiary of the Teresian Carmelites, a Massachusetts-based religious group that licenses the UMass patents to make Easeamine anti-aging face cream.”
Google’s $118M Settlement in Gender Discrimination Case
The case: In 2017, three women who had previously worked for Google filed a class action discrimination suit in San Francisco Superior Court “alleging it discriminated against women in pay and promotions,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
That suit followed allegations brought by the Department of Labor earlier in 2017 concerning a gender pay gap at the tech giant.
Scorecard: Google has agreed to settle the class action for $118 million.
Takeaway: While Google does not admit wrongdoing in settling the case, as part of the settlement, “independent experts will review Google’s hiring practices and pay-equity studies,” according to the WSJ.
About 15,500 women who worked for Google are affected by the settlement, which will need a judge’s approval before funds are disbursed.
Qualcomm Must Face Antitrust Class Action
The case: A class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is a repeat effort to hold Qualcomm responsible for forcing tens of millions of California consumers “to pay artificially inflated prices for mobile phones, tablets and other cellular devices,” according to Reuters.
Last September, a U.S. Appeals Court “blocked the plaintiffs from pursuing federal antitrust claims and wiped out a nationwide class that was estimated to include up to 250 million members,” reported Reuters.
Scorecard: The case has recently been filed and has not reached a resolution.
Takeaway: The new complaint hinges on the use of California’s antitrust and unfair competition laws. Attorneys for the class said “that the two state laws ‘provide more liberal standards for liability’ than what’s available under the Sherman Act federal antitrust law,” according to Reuters.
Qualcomm is expected to ask the court to dismiss the complaint. &