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New York prosecutors abruptly dropped their criminal case midtrial Wednesday against three men who had been accused of conspiring to possess a cache of hand-drafted lyrics to “Hotel California” and other Eagles hits.

Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Aaron Ginandes informed the judge at 10 a.m. that prosecutors would no longer proceed with the case, citing newly available emails that defense lawyers said raised questions about the trial’s fairness. The trial had been underway since late February.

The raft of communications emerged only when Eagles star Don Henley apparently decided last week to waive attorney-client privilege, after he and other prosecution witnesses had already testified. The defense argued that the new disclosures raised questions that it hadn’t been able to ask.

“Witnesses and their lawyers” used attorney-client privilege “to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging,” Judge Curtis Farber said in dismissing the case.

The case centered on roughly 100 pages of legal-pad pages from the creation of a classic rock colossus. The 1976 album “Hotel California” ranks as the third-biggest seller of all time in the U.S., in no small part on the strength of its evocative, smoothly unsettling title track about a place where “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

The accused had been three well-established figures in the collectibles world: rare books dealer Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi, and rock memorabilia seller Edward Kosinski.

Prosecutors had said the men knew the pages had a dubious chain of ownership but peddled them anyway, scheming to fabricate a provenance that would pass muster with auction houses and stave off demands to return the documents to Eagles co-founder Don Henley.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to criminally possess stolen property. Through their lawyers, the men contended that they were rightful owners of pages that weren’t stolen by anyone.

“We are glad the district attorney’s office finally made the right decision to drop this case. It should never have been brought,” Jonathan Bach, an attorney for Horowitz, said outside court.

Horowitz hugged tearful family members but did not comment while leaving court. Inciardi also declined to speak outside the courtroom but said in a statement, “The next step is building back our reputations.”

One of Kosinski’s attorneys, Scott Edelman, said outside court they would evaluate potential future legal moves, “given the judge’s statements of serious concern about the veracity of the witnesses.”

Edelman commended prosecutors for their ultimate decision but added, “It’s too little and too late.”

“The district attorney in this case got blinded by the fame and fortune of a celebrity,” Edelman said, “and that blinded them to the information that they weren’t being given.”

Henley’s current lawyer, Dan Petrocelli, said in an emailed statement that the attorney-client privilege that had previously shielded some of the communications “is a foundational guardrail in our justice system” that should rarely be forsaken.

“As the victim in this case, Mr. Henley has once again been victimized by this unjust outcome,” Petrocelli said. “He will pursue all his rights in the civil courts.”

The defense maintained that Henley gave the documents decades ago to a writer who worked on a never-published Eagles biography and later sold the handwritten sheets to Horowitz. He, in turn, sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski, who started putting some of the pages up for auction in 2012.


The Supreme Court on Thursday gave whiskey maker Jack Daniel’s reason to raise a glass, handing the company a new chance to win a trademark dispute with the makers of the Bad Spaniels dog toy.

In announcing the decision for a unanimous court, Justice Elena Kagan was in an unusually playful mood. At one point while reading a summary of the opinion in the courtroom Kagan held up the toy, which squeaks and mimics the whiskey’s signature bottle.

Kagan said a lower court’s reasoning was flawed when it ruled for the makers of the rubber chew toy. The court did not decide whether the toy’s maker had violated trademark law but instead sent the case back for further review.

“This case is about dog toys and whiskey, two items seldom appearing in the same sentence,” Kagan wrote in an opinion for the court. At another point, Kagan asked readers to “Recall what the bottle looks like (or better yet, retrieve a bottle from wherever you keep liquor; it’s probably there)” before inserting a color picture of it.

Arizona-based VIP Products has been selling its Bad Spaniels toy since 2014. It’s part of the company’s Silly Squeakers line of chew toys that mimic liquor, beer, wine and soda bottles. They include Mountain Drool, which parodies Mountain Dew, and Heini Sniff’n, which parodies Heineken beer.

While Jack Daniel’s bottles have the words “Old No. 7 brand” and “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey,” the toy proclaims: “The Old No. 2 on Your Tennessee Carpet.” The original bottle notes it is 40% alcohol by volume. The parody features a dog’s face and says it’s “43% Poo by Vol.” and “100% Smelly.”

The packaging of the toy, which retails for around $20, notes in small font: “This product is not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery.”

Jack Daniel’s, based in Lynchburg, Tennessee, wasn’t amused. Its lawyers argued that the toy misleads customers, profits “from Jack Daniel’s hard-earned goodwill” and associates its “whiskey with excrement.”

At the center of the case is the Lanham Act, the country’s core federal trademark law. It prohibits using a trademark in a way “likely to cause confusion ... as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of ... goods.”

A lower court never got to the issue of consumer confusion, however, because it said the toy was an “expressive work” communicating a humorous message and therefore needed to be evaluated under a different test. Kagan said that was a mistake and that “the only question in this case going forward is whether the Bad Spaniels marks are likely to cause confusion.”

Kagan also said a lower court erred in its analysis of Jack Daniel’s claim against the toy company for linking “its whiskey to less savory substances.”

The opinion was one of four the court issued Thursday, including a 5-4 ruling in favor of Black voters in Alabama in a congressional redistricting case. The case had been closely watched for its potential to weaken the landmark Voting Rights Act.

The case is Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC, 22-148.


The Supreme Court sided Monday with Google in an $8 billion copyright dispute with Oracle over the internet company’s creation of the Android operating system used on most smartphones worldwide.

To create Android, which was released in 2007, Google wrote millions of lines of new computer code. But it also used 11,330 lines of code and an organization that’s part of Oracle’s Java platform.

Google had argued that what it did is long-settled, common practice in the industry, a practice that has been good for technical progress. And it said there is no copyright protection for the purely functional, noncreative computer code it used, something that couldn’t be written another way. But Austin, Texas-based Oracle said Google “committed an egregious act of plagiarism,” and it sued.

The justices ruled 6-2 for Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California. Two conservative justices dissented.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote  that in reviewing a lower court’s decision, the justices assumed “for argument’s sake, that the material was copyrightable.”

“But we hold that the copying here at issue nonetheless constituted a fair use. Hence, Google’s copying did not violate the copyright law,” he wrote.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Samuel Alito that he believed “Oracle’s code at issue here is copyrightable, and Google’s use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair.”

Only eight justices heard the case because it was argued in October, after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg but before Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court.

In a statement, Google’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker, called the ruling a “victory for consumers, interoperability, and computer science.” “The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers,” Walker wrote.

Oracle’s chief legal officer, Dorian Daley, condemned the outcome. “The Google platform just got bigger and market power greater. The barriers to entry higher and the ability to compete lower. They stole Java and spent a decade litigating as only a monopolist can,” she wrote in a statement.

Microsoft, IBM and major internet and tech industry lobbying groups had weighed in on the case in favor of Google. The Motion Picture Association and the Recording Industry Association of America were among those supporting Oracle.

The case is Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., 18-956.


Britain’s Supreme Court has dismissed two appeals by Chinese telecoms firms Huawei and ZTE over mobile data patent disputes.

The disputes center on the licensing of patented technology considered essential to mobile telecoms. The patents are meant to ensure fair competition and access to technology like 4G.

In the first case, Unwired Planet, an intellectual property company that licenses patents, had brought legal action against Huawei for infringement of five U.K. patents that Unwired acquired from Ericsson.

The second appeal concerned legal action brought by another patent licensing company, Conversant Wireless, against Huawei and ZTE for infringement of four of its U.K. patents.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld lower court rulings on the cases and dismissed appeals by Huawei and ZTE.

In a statement, Conversant said the ruling was a landmark judgment that will have “significant implications worldwide” for telecommunications patent licensing.

The ruling meant that companies like Huawei cannot insist that patent holders like Conversant prove their patents in every jurisdiction of the world, which would be “both practically and economically prohibitive,” the company added.


The Supreme Court said Friday it will referee a high-profile copyright dispute between technology giants Oracle and Google. Oracle says it wants nearly $9 billion from Google.

The case stems from Google’s development of its hugely popular Android operating system by using Oracle’s Java programming language. A federal appeals court found that Google unfairly used Java without paying for it, the second appellate ruling in Oracle’s favor. A trial court has yet to assess damages.

The justices agreed to review the appeals court ruling, and arguments are expected early next year. The first Android phone went on sale in 2008 and Google says more than 2 billion mobile devices now use Android.

The dispute stretches back to 2010, when Oracle filed suit over Google’s use of 11,500 lines of Java code. In the first of two trials, a federal judge ruled that so-called “application programming interfaces” (APIs) weren’t protected by copyright.

After the appeals court overturned that ruling, a jury found in a second trial that Google had made “fair use” of the programming code.

“There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform,” Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrote in a decision siding with Oracle.

Microsoft was among many parties that urged the Supreme Court to upend the appeals court ruling. The Trump administration, responding to a request from the court for its views, said the justices should stay out of the case.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems prepared to allow the Trump administration to end a program that allows some immigrants to work legally in the United States and protects them from deportation.

There did not appear to be any support among the five conservatives in extended arguments for blocking the administration’s decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and are here illegally.


A U.S. appeals court says a shoe made by American footwear giant Skechers is nearly identical to an iconic Adidas shoe and would likely confuse consumers about the manufacturers.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling blocking Skechers from selling its Onix shoe.
Adidas argued in a lawsuit that the Onix was a rip-off of its Stan Smith tennis shoe.

The 9th Circuit judges said the shoes had only minor differences, and there was evidence that Skechers intended to confuse consumers.
A spokeswoman for Skechers, Jennifer Clay, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
The 9th Circuit allowed Skechers to sell its Cross Court shoe, saying Germany-based Adidas failed to show irreparable harm from the sale of that footwear.


The Supreme Court is making it easier for companies to defend themselves against patent infringement lawsuits.

The justices ruled unanimously on Monday that such lawsuits can be filed only in states where defendants are incorporated. The issue is important to many companies that complained about patent owners choosing more favorable courts in other parts of the country to file lawsuits.

The case involved an appeal from TC Heartland, an Indiana-based food sweetener company sued by Kraft Foods in Delaware. Lower courts refused to transfer the case to Indiana.

But the Supreme Court’s ruling will have the biggest impact on federal courts in eastern Texas, where more than 40 percent of patent lawsuits are now filed. Local rules there favor quick trials and juries tend to be more sympathetic to plaintiffs.

The ruling will have a major effect on lawsuits from so-called patent trolls — companies that buy up patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face expensive litigation. Many of those cases now may have a tougher time getting to trial or result in jury verdicts that are less generous.

Companies including eBay, Kickstarter and online crafts site Etsy had urged the high court to restrict where such cases can be filed, saying they have been sued repeatedly in courts hundreds or thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters. Even Texas Attorney General Scott Keller led a coalition of 17 states calling for an end to so-called “forum shopping” in patent cases.

Groups representing inventors and patent owners said new restrictions would place burdens on patent holders and encourage infringing behavior and piracy.



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