Friday, November 23, 2007

Jeff Goldblum's "Pittsburgh" Mockumentary Withstands Stagehand's Request for A Temporary Restraining Order

Stagehand Debbie Sue Croyle appeared briefly in Jeff Goldblum's "Pittsburgh" mockumentary. She sued claiming she did not sign a release and was humiliated by statements made by Goldblum in her brief scene.

Croyle asked for $4 million in damage as well as the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Croyle had agreed to sign the release in consideration for a monetary donation by the producers to a charity. One of the producers made such a donation on the day the lawsuit was filed.

Croyle argued that this was too late, but the defendants argued that no deadline was ever agreed upon. U.S. District Court Judge David Cercone denied the request for a TRO because he believed her lawsuit was unlikely to succeed. After viewing the scene, the judge was not persuaded she was likely to win a suit based on injury to her reputation.

The TRO would have forced the producers to delete the scene, stop selling DVDs, and prevent the film from being broadcast on television.

Film Producer Arrested for "Art Department Work" Done to Create Bogus Foreign Pre-Sale Distribution Agreements

Gary Hoswam has been arrested for bank fraud based on using bogus contracts with foreign sales distributors to borrow money.

The FBI alleges that Hoswam faked ten foreign pre-sale distribution agreements for the film "Going Back" in order to secure $4.8 million in loans from Comerica Bank. At the time, Hoswam was the CEO of Greenlight Films where he helped produce dozens of projects, including, "Global Heresy," "Ignition," and the TV show "The Tudors." In 1999 and 2000, Hoswam worked with Harel Goldstein of Hilltop Entertainment and another man to secure financing for six films. According to the FBI, false foreign pre-sale distribution contracts were created using whiteout and cutting and pasting information from genuine contracts. In 2007, Goldstein signed a plea agreement. He told the FBI that Howsam said some "art department work" would be necessary in the negotiations with Comerica. Goldstein later wore a wire to a meeting with Hoswam in order to gather evidence against him. Comerica has also filed a civil suit against Hoswam. Hoswam is out on a $500,000 bail and has been placed under house arrest in Los Angeles.

Fourth Circuit Court Affirms that Haute Diggity Dog May Continue to Sell "Chewy Vuitton" Line of Dog Products

Huate Diggity Dog (HDD) sells dog toys and dog beds that parody famous trademarks, including those of Louis Vuitton Malletier (LVM). HDD's products include "Chewy Vuitton," "Chewnel No. 5," "Furcedes," and "Sniffany & Co." The "Chewy Vuitton" products had interlocking letters similar to the LVM's famous trademark and also had colors similar to LVM products.

LVM sued HDD for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and copyright violations. The District Court granted HDD's motion for summary judgment on all three theories resulting in the case being dismissed. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the lower court's conclusions on all three counts. The Fourth Circuit adopted a different line of reasoning on the trademark dilution claim.

Both Courts agreed that the "Chewy Vuitton" products constituted a parody of LVM's products. Consumers would "recognize a humorous association with the Vuitton mark, without likely confusing" anyone that the product was an LVM product. The Courts also agreed that there was no copyright violation since HDD's use of copyright was a fair use and non-infringing. In addressing the trademark dilution issue, the District Court found that LVM had failed to state a cause of action because HDD's parody was not likely to dilute the LVM trademark.

The Fourth Circuit agreed with the conclusion, but differed in its reasoning. It found that because LVM's trademark was so strong and because HDD's products clearly and intentionally communicated that they are parodies, there is no basis for finding a dilution by blurring claim against HDD.

The opinion can be read at:


Registration online is now possible for $35 as part of a beta test of the Copyright Office's web-based registration program. To participate, fill out the Request Form at


Mark will be bringing his one day Risky Business seminar to Tupelo, Mississippi on Friday, November 30, 2007. Those who attend this comprehensive all day seminar will learn how independent films are financed and distributed.

Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. Particular attention is paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect their interests by watering down warranties, getting added to the E& O policy, using lab access letter to retain possession of the negative, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses.

This seminar is being organized by the Tupelo Mississippi Film Commission and is co-sponsored by Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau; Tupelo Film Commission; BancorpSouth; MS Film Office; MS Arts Commission; and Gardner-Watson Ice House. More info at: More info at: