It’s only the second half of the year, yet our law offices in Renton, Seattle are abuzz with chatter about the latest and silliest celebrity lawsuits. Courts tend to become busy during December, which is why we are not waiting to round up the most notable courtroom appearances of celebs who found themselves at the center of litigation, both loony and legitimate.
In no particular order, here they are.
All she wants for Christmas is not to be the subject of a lawsuit
In June, queen of Christmas, gown aficionado, and octave scaler Mariah Carey was sued by a much lesser known musician Andy Stone for allegedly stealing the song title “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Mariah’s song of the same name (you might have heard it) happens to be one of her most successful songs, ever.
According to Mr. Stone’s $20 million copyright infringement lawsuit, his song with the same title came out in 1989 and Mariah’s in 1993. He alleged that Mariah, her co-writer, Walter Afanasieff, and the singer’s former record label, Sony Music Entertainment, didn’t ask for his permission to use the title of the song.
But he doesn’t own exclusive rights to the title and certain works are not protected by copyrights. The US Copyright Office states that uncopyrightable works include names, titles, and short phrases: “Words and short phrases, such as names, titles, and slogans, are uncopyrightable because they contain an insufficient amount of authorship.”
So if Mr. Stone’s sole aim was to have his song be mentioned in the same breath as Mariah’s timeless, chart-topping classic, then he succeeded. But his lawsuit is unlikely to succeed in any way.
Royal family feud
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah aired last year, yet some of the things they said during the sit-down continue to affect their respective families. In particular, Meghan’s half sister, Samantha Markle, accused her of lying about her upbringing and their relationship as half siblings.
In the Oprah interview, Meghan said she “grew up as an only child” and that she hadn’t seen her sister in 20 years. This compelled Samantha, who claimed that these and other statements were false, to file a $75,000 defamation lawsuit in March.
Meghan called it a “meritless defamation lawsuit” and filed a motion to dismiss it. It was rejected the first time, but she filed again in June. According to her lawyers, “Courts are not equipped to adjudicate the legitimacy of a person's feelings about their childhood and relationships. Nor should they be.”
In other words, if Meghan felt like she grew up as an only child and wished she were close to her siblings, then she had every right to say so. Perhaps the reason Samantha felt accosted was that her half sister chose to talk about their family on a very popular couch of a very popular person.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith are still fighting
It seems like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are committed to having one of the world’s longest divorces as the exes are now fighting over…rosé. But it’s not just any rosé; it’s Château Miraval, the wine that, under Brad’s management, became one of the most sought-after wines in the world.
Recently, Angelina sold her shares in the wine company, and it angered the Inglorious Basterds actor that she did. Both of them have shares in the company under different holding companies as well as a third company that holds their shared stocks.
Now that their child custody issues seem to be over (or at least, on the wane), they’ve decided it’s time to fight about wine. From what we’ve read in their high-conflict divorce, a dispute about wine and drinking is nothing out of the ordinary — after all, Brad’s drinking was supposedly one of the reasons Angelina filed for divorce.
Read more about Brangelina’s divorce here: From hookup to breakup: A complete chronicle of Brangelina’s divorce and custody battle (UPDATED)
We’re not going to talk any further about the Amber Heard–Johnny Depp trial…
So we’ll just briefly touch on Johnny’s assault case.
Johnny and Amber’s case is a complex issue, and choosing a side can be problematic. But since they’re public figures, news about their feud will continue to flood news sites, and the general public may find it hard not to tweet their support for either party. It doesn’t help that troubles seem to hound them. Case in point: Johnny recently settled a lawsuit filed by Gregg Brooks, a crew member who accused the actor of assault on the set of the movie City of Lies.
It’s fun for us to weigh in on this issue because we have some experience dealing with injury lawsuits. But you don’t have to. That said, it’s time for Johnny (and Amber) to step out of the limelight — at least until the documentary about their relationship comes out.
A divorce lawyer divorces a celebrity client
Celebrity divorce lawyer Samantha Spector turned down one particularly lucrative lawyering gig. Ms. Spector filed a motion to be relieved as Kanye’s lawyer, citing an “irreconcilable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.” Declining representation is not uncommon, but having read about Kanye and other celebs’ divorces, we can relate to Ms. Spector’s need to divorce herself from this high-profile, high-stress case.
Oops…she got married again
Pop princess Britney Spears — whose legal troubles have appeared in this blog many, many, many times — recently wed her longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari. With her conservatorship abolished, she is now free to do whatever she wants, including marrying the man of her dreams.
The question foremost on everyone’s mind (including actress Octavia Spencer) was whether she got a prenup. We’re happy to report that she did. The Britney estate is worth tens of millions, and if there’s one thing Team Britney is great at, it’s protecting the pop star’s estate from considerably less wealthy beaus.
Yes, we like to keep tabs on celebrity legal drama, but most days, we handle regular-people cases. Call Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams for your family law and/or personal injury case in Washington State.