#InTheNews – Nike Files Trademark Infringement Suit.

MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based art group, converted 666 pairs of Nike Air Max 97s into its “Satan Sneakers” as part of a limited-edition collection for Lil Nas X. Even though they were valued at an ungodly $1,018, all 666 pairs were officially sold out within a minute of their release. An inverted triangle, a bronze pentagram charm, and a drop of human blood are included on the redesigned red and black kicks. The shoes also have the biblical reference “Luke 10:18,” which refers to the Bible verse “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”. These symbols are often related to satanism, and they angered several users on Twitter, prompting the hashtags “Satan Sneakers” and “Lil Nas X” to trend. The shoes also have Nike’s trademark Swoosh, which has annoyed many customers who have vowed to boycott the company.
In response, Nike has filed a lawsuit against MSCHF. In Nike’s complaint, brought in U.S. Federal Court in New York, charges that MSCHF Product Studio Inc, headquartered in Brooklyn, infringed on and diluted the brand and that the updated shoes had damaged the company’s image. Nike has also cited some of those online responses in the lawsuit like: “This is sickening!!! How is Nike not involved when there’s a Nike symbol on the shoe!!!” Nike is requesting the judge to “immediately” prohibit MSCHF from filling any orders for the Satan Shoe.

#CaseCommentary – NCAA v. Alston

Against the context of March Madness, college sports’ most famous and lucrative affair, there is a decades-long reckoning underway that will permanently alter the face of college athletics. Earlier today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in NCAA v. Alston. Former Division I college athletes filed the complaint, alleging that the NCAA’s policies governing education-related benefits are unconstitutional under federal competition law. The Supreme Court will consider a lawsuit concerning the NCAA for the first time in four decades. The central question is whether athletes should be eligible to obtain educational advantages such as laptops, scientific tools, and musical instruments. Unlike other students, college players, who are also on athletic scholarships, are not qualified for financial benefits. NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma was the NCAA’s last Supreme Court fight. It gained a valuable concession from that case, where NCAA was held to be unlike most companies in that it needs enough latitude to uphold a legacy of amateurism in college athletics.

#LearnTheLaw – U.S. Supreme Court Term

The United States Supreme Court term begins on the first Monday in October and will last until late June or early July. The term itself is divided into sittings: one sitting includes actively hearing cases and delivering decisions on those cases, and the other sitting, the “recess,” is when the Justices consider business before the court and write their opinions (decision in a case with their legal reasoning). The constitution says that the Justices of the Supreme Court shall enjoy their position in “good behavior” which has been regarded to mean life tenure (serving until death). Termination of Justiceship only occurs through death, resignation, retirement, or impeachment (formal removal from office). As of recent, there has been a movement that seeks to limit the Justiceship to 18 years. Those that believe this rely on the fact that the constitution does not actually grant the Supreme Court Justices life tenure, but only refers to “good behavior.” People believe this is a good idea because they believe the court has become too political. For example, those who want to “fix the court” see republican and democratic parties attempting to find the youngest person in their party to nominate when a Supreme Court Justice seat opens so that they can control that seat (and that party’s ideals) for decades to come. On the other hand, however, life tenure is deeply rooted in America’s tradition as that is always how it has been. What do you think?

#LearnTheLaw – What is a Tort?

In medieval England, tort was a synonym for a “wrong” or “trespass.” Later on, it became known as “torque,” or to twist. Today, when a person commits a tort, they act in a manner that is figuratively twisted because it is a wrongful act that involves some kind of injury to another person. When a person commits a tort, also known as a tortfeasor, the victim of the tort is entitled to ask the courts to get involved to set things straight between the victim and the tortfeasor; this usually involves compensation. In sum, to commit a tort is to act in a manner that causes injury to another, which gives the victim a right to bring a lawsuit to obtain relief. While many commonly and correctly think of negligence as to biggest chunk of tort law, there are also other tortious acts one can commit on another such as, intentional torts (battery, assault, false imprisonment), conversion, defamation, products liability, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with contract or economic advantage, invasion of privacy, and nuisance.

#SCOTUSSpotlight – Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Monday, March 15th, 2021, would have been Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 88th birthday. Justice Ginsburg was the second female and the first Jewish female justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. After being denied many opportunities based on her gender, Justice Ginsburg was motivated to end gender discrimination in law. From not being allowed to read the Torah at her bat-mitzvah because of her gender, to being asked why she was taking the seat of a man in her Harvard Law class, to being denied several positions based on her gender, Ginsburg’s personal experiences ignited her passion to seek equal protection for both men and women under the law. Before her time as a Judge and then later a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ginsburg was a law professor, a co-author for a law school textbook on sex discrimination, a co-founder of the first law Journal focused exclusively on women’s rights, and of course, a practicing attorney. In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU where she argued gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. Ginsburg used the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to argue that the clause provides that all men and women should be treated equally in the law. For example, Ginsburg argued that a law that provided social security benefits for widows but not for widowers was unconstitutional because it treated men and women unequally. (Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975)). Importantly, Ginsburg knew that she had to win over nine white male Justices, so she chose cases with men as the plaintiff to demonstrate that gender discrimination was harmful not only to women but men as well, as seen in the case example above. Ginsburg won five out of the six gender discrimination cases in front of the Supreme Court. In 1993, after serving as a Judge for the DC Circuit, she was nominated and appointed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. Justice Ginsburg often wrote dissenting opinions, which showed her disagreement with the majority and highlighted her liberal take on many issues, including equal protection, abortion rights, and voting rights.

#LearnTheLaw – What is Fair Use?

Fair use, in the broadest sense, is the use of copyrighted content without permission from the relevant copyright owner for a restricted and, as the courts define it, “transformative” intent, such as commenting on, criticizing, or parodying such copyrighted work. It is based on the idea that parts of copyrighted works should be free to be used without the copyright owner’s permission. It is a widely used defense by those accused of copyright infringement.
In settling fair use disputes, courts have traditionally looked at four factors:
(1) the intent and character of the use
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work
(3) the volume and substantiality of the portion taken
(4) the impact of the use on the future market.
Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use. (Source: Copyright.gov)

#LearnTheLaw – What is a Contract?

Contracts are promises that the law will enforce to be met. The law behind the security of a contract provides remedies to the harmed party which is commonly resolved in the form of monetary damages. But in limited situations, the court will order “specific performance” of the promise to be made.
The basic elements required for a contract/agreement to be legally enforceable are:
– Mutual Assent
– A valid Offer and Acceptance has been made
– Adequate Consideration from any party involved
– Capacity (Usually requires a person to have reached a minimum age and to have soundness of mind.)
– Legality (No parties being bound to perform or engage in illegal activity – the legality of the purpose of the contract is required for the contract to be enforceable.)
Specific Performance – A contractual remedy in which the court orders a party to actually perform its promise as closely as possible because monetary damages are somehow inadequate to fix the harm. (Source: LII)
Breach of Contract – The violation of a contractual obligation. One may breach a contract by repudiating (or denying) a promise, failing to perform a promise, or interfering with another party’s performance. (Source: LII)
Offer – A promise to do or refrain from doing something in exchange for something else. An offer must be stated and delivered in a way that would lead a reasonable person to expect a binding contract to arise from its acceptance. (Source: LII)
Acceptance – To form a binding contract, acceptance should be relayed in a manner authorized, requested, or at least reasonably expected by the offeror (Source: LII)
Mutual Assent – Agreement by both parties to a contract. Mutual assent must be proven objectively and is often established by showing an offer and acceptance (e.g., an offer to do X in exchange for Y, followed by an acceptance of that offer). (Source: LII)
Interesting Fact:
The shorthand symbol used for a “contract” is “K” this term is used almost universally by lawyers and law students (Source: Law.com)

Case Commentary: Lange v. California

“Probable cause” is a legal term that basically means that a police officer has either: a pretty good reason to believe that a crime may have been committed that requires an arrest, or knowledge that a crime was committed because there is evidence, which requires “search,” or investigation. A police officer must prove this “probable cause” (why he believes strongly that a crime has been committed, or present evidence of the crime), in order for a court to grant him or her a warrant. If a police officer can show probable cause, then in the former case, he can receive an arrest warrant and arrest the person whom he or she believes committed a crime, or in the latter situation, he can receive a search warrant, to search the evidence of the crime. However, there are what is called “exigent circumstances” aka crazy and unpredictable circumstances, that allow a police officer with probable cause to arrest someone or search something without a warrant. In the case currently in front of the Supreme Court, Lange v. California, the court is asked to determine whether a police officer who has probable cause that someone committed a misdemeanor (low level crime), can enter a garage without a search warrant? In other words, is entering a home because the officer has probable cause that the person who lives there committed a low level crime, considered one of those crazy circumstances that allows a police officer to search someone or something, without a warrant?
Specifically, a California Highway Patrol officer saw Arthur Gregory Lange in his parked car, playing music loudly and honking his horn even though no other vehicles were nearby. The officer, thinking this was odd, followed Lange for several blocks. Eventually, the officer turned his lights on and Lange did not stop. Lange tuned into a driveway and drove into a garage. The officer interrupted the closing garage door and following Lange in the garage. Lange was then charged with two Vehicle Code misdemeanor and an infraction. Lange argued at court that officer followed him into the garage without a warrant and this is not one of those unpredictable crazy circumstances where a warrantless search would be allowed. The officer obviously disagrees. He says that this was one of those crazy circumstances. What do you think? For reference, entering someone’s apartment without a warrant because the officer smelled marijuana was an exigent circumstance. Also, warrantless entry was allowed when it was necessary to render aid to an injured person.

SCOTUS Spotlight: Sonia Maria Sotomayor

Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 and is the first Hispanic and Latina member of the Supreme Court. Growing up in The Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor was inspired to pursue a legal career and judgeship after watching the Perry Mason television series at just 10 years old. Sotomayor received a full scholarship to Princeton University for undergraduate school, and then to Yale Law School in 1976, on a scholarship as well. Sotomayor praises affirmative action for letting students like herself from “disadvantaged backgrounds” to be “brought to the starting line of a race many were unaware was even being run.” After graduating from law school, Sotomayor was hired as an assistant district attorney in New York County. Sotomayor handled cases such as shoplifting and prostitution to robberies, assaults, and murders. Finally, after pursuing a range of legal positions, serving on various public service committees, and serving on the U.S. Federal District Court of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in 2008, Sotomayor was nominated for the Supreme Court seat by President Barack Obama. After Senate hearings, Sotomayor was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 63-31. Sotomayor has been associated with the liberal side of the court. In her first couple of years on the court she ruled in agreement with Breyer, Ginsburg and Kagan, all three known to be of a liberal judicial philosophy. Notably, in January 2021, Sonia Sotomayor swore in Kamala Harris as the first black and South Asian and female Vice President.

Fun fact: Sotomayor identifies as a “Nuyorcian,” which refers to members of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around NYC. Born and raised in NYC, Sotomayor has always been a huge New York Yankees fan.