ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bob & Doug on international franchising

From:   Bob & Doug McKenzie, The Hoser, Aug. 2005:

Bob:  So anyway, we got some burritos and tacos [at Taco Bell] but we didn't order any drinks. We got those at the Beer Store.
Doug:  As usual.
Bob:  So here's some Mexican beer.  [Looks at bottle, reading.] "Cerveza."
Doug:  Who's he?
Bob:  Huh?  He who?
Doug:  Sir Veza.
Bob:  What the?  -- No, look!  [Hands Doug the bottle and points.]  "Cerveza."
Doug:  Oh, what's that mean?
Bob:  Beer, I think.
Doug:  Ah, so when we're in Mexico we can order some.
Bob:  Do they have Beer Stores there?
Doug:  No, I think they sell it at Taco Bell.
Bob:  Taco Bell?!
Doug:  Yeah!
Bob:  In Mexico?
Doug:  Yeah!
Bob Why?
Doug:  Well there's Kentucky Fried Chicken places in Kentucky, I don't see why they can't have a Taco Bell in Mexico.
Bob:  Beauty.

September 10, 2005 in Quotes | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Woody Guthrie’s Contract with RCA

In April 1940, RCA Victor Record Company contracted Woody Guthrie to record an album containing his Dust Bowl Ballads. This was Woody Guthrie's first "commercial" recording.  Under the “Artists Letter Agreement,” Woody Guthrie promised to produce a record with at least 12 “Dust Bowl Songs of [his] own composition and arrangement.” [Page 1 of the contract; Page 2 of the contract]. In return, RCA gave Woody Guthrie 5% of the retail list price in royalties and a meager $25 advance against those royalties.

[Meredith R. Miller]

September 10, 2005 in Celebrity Contracts | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Changes in UK employment law?

Uk_flag_1 “Over the last months there have been a number of decisions of the [British] Court of Appeal and the Employment Appeals tribunal ("EAT") that will have significant practical impact on several important areas of employment law,” according to Jones Day’s United Kingdom Summer Employment Law Roundup.

[Frank Snyder]

September 10, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: September 10

1823: The Champlain Canal, which connects Lake Champlain with the Hudson River and (via the Erie Canal) the Great Lakes, is opened.

1839: Publisher Isaac Kaufmann Funk is born at Clifton, Ohio.  An ordained Lutheran minister, he’ll start his own publishing company in 1876 with a college classmate, Adam Willis Wagnalls.

1846: Elias Howe gets a patent for the first U.S. sewing machine using a lock stitch.  When Isaac Singer uses Howe’s patent to make his sewing machines, Howe’s income will go from $300 to $200,000 a year.

1889: Legal realist and judge Jerome New Frank is born at New York City.

1890: Couturier Elsa Schiaparelli is born at Rome, Italy.  In 1931 she’ll invent what she calls a “divided skirt,” but others will call “tennis shorts.”

1897: At the A.D. Pardee & Co.  mine near Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a county sheriff’s posse opens fire on labor demonstrators, killing 19 Polish, Slovak, and Lithuanian immigrant workers and wounding 40 more.

1977: A one-legged 27-year-old Tunisian immigrant becomes the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.

September 10, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 9, 2005

Cases: New infringement doesn't re-start K claim

California_flag_11 New acts of copyright infringement may reignite the statute of limitations for copyright, but they don’t resuscitate claims for breach of contract and breach of implied contract, says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a case involving the film Terminator 2.

Back in 1987, Filia and Constantinos Kourtis copyrighted a synopsis of concept called The Minotaur, with the hopes of some day making a movie.  The minotaur is half-man, half-bull, and can transform himself into several shapes.  William Green wrote a screenplay based on the concept.  In 1989, the screenplay reached Cameron’s hands, and he expressed an interest in perhaps making the movie.  In 1991, Cameron released Terminator II: Judgment Day.  Green filed a copyright infringement suit.  Defendants won a summary judgment motion on the grounds that the two stories were not substantially similar.  The Kourtises were not part of the suit.

Sometime after 1998, the Kourtises filed suit against Cameron for copyright infringement, breach of implied contract, breach of oral contract, and breach of confidence.  The lawsuit was dismissed on grounds of collateral estoppel and statute of limitations.

There was no collateral estoppel, said the court, because the Kourtises were not in privity with Green, and therefore were not bound by the judgment in that case; the fact that they’d had the chance to intervene was irrelevant.  As to the statute of limitations, a new act of infringement can “re-start the clock” for a copyright infringement claim.  Since Terminator II had recently been released on DVD, and Terminator III might also violate the copyright, the statute of limitations period started anew.  But that didn’t help the breach of contract claims, implied or otherwise.  Any breach by Cameron would have occurred a decade earlier, and the limitations period for such contract is two years.  The contract claims were therefore barred, but the copyright claims could go forward.  Kourtis v. Cameron, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 17146 (9th Cir.,Aug. 15, 2005).

[Frank Snyder]

September 9, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Benefits and Drawbacks of “E-Negotiation”

Does negotiation of a contract on e-mail speed up the process or slow it down?  A recent article from posits that, paradoxically, it does a little bit of both.  Obviously, e-mail allows the parties to exchange the information more quickly than traditional methods.  However, in so doing, it facilitates the exchange of numerous drafts, which may actually slow down the negotiation process.  Also, e-mail replies require “at least a little time to compose and send.” 

Likewise, absent traditional “face to face” or telephone interaction, the importance of certain negotiation points may become obscured; “throw in” points to a contract make appear to take on a higher level of significance.  Similarly, without “direct communication” the effectiveness of “subtle pressures” may be lost.

It seems, then, that the optimal negotiation strategy does not exclusively use e-mail, but also uses telephone and “face to face” exchanges.

[Meredith R. Miller]

September 9, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Katrina's Effects on the Louisiana Courts

With all of the immediate human suffering, Katrina's effects on the courts in Louisiana have not been on the forefront.  However, an article today in the Dallas Morning News addresses the issue of how the court system is coping with the disaster.  The Louisiana Supreme Court building has been completely flooded, a fate shared by many of the lower courts along the Gulf coast as well.  Many case files have been destroyed.  Gov. Kathleen Blanco issued an order suspending all state court operations through Sept. 25.  The federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, meanwhile, has immediate plans to relocate to Houston by next week, and then relocate to a suburb of Baton Rouge by the end of the year, according to Judge Patrick Higginbotham. 

Lawyers in the affected area are also scrambling to restore order.  Many have relocated to other cities, and are reconstructing their case files through access to electronic court databases where available, and also through help from opposing attorneys.  According to Louisiana State University law professor John Baker, the entire ordeal is a "lesson about what many of us take for granted, of what it takes to function every day, of what it takes to keep a society together."

[Wayne Barnes]


September 9, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: September 9

1543:  Six-day-old Mary Stewart becomes Queen of Scotland on the death of her father, James V.  She’ll be betrothed at 5, widowed at 18, and beheaded at 35.

1776: The Continental Congress formally changes the name of the United Colonies to the United States.

1850: Texas cedes its claims to the lands that now comprise all or parts of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming, in exchange for federal assumption of $10 million in state debt.

1886: The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the first international IP agreement, is issued.

1890: “Colonel” Harland David Sanders is born at Henryville, Indiana.  He’ll begin selling chicken at age 40 as a sideline for his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, and will begin franchising at age 62.

1909: Railroad tycoon Edward Henry Harriman, who quit school at 14 to take a job as a Wall Street errand boy and managed to buy his own seat on the New York Stock Exchange at 22, dies at age 61.

1926:  The National Broadcasting Co., Inc., the first broadcast network in the U.S., is formed by its parent, the Radio Corporation of America.

1947: A moth lodges in a relay in a Harvard University computer.  This is the first recorded computer “bug.”

1995: The “PlayStation Generation” is born as Sony introduces its popular videogame console into the U.S.

September 9, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Rio 1, Rod Stewart 0

After deliberating for about three hours, a federal jury in Las Vegas Wednesday found that Rod Stewart must repay the $2 million advance the Rio paid Stewart in 2000 for a concert the singer never performed.  According to a jury spokesperson, the jury "faulted attorneys for both Stewart and the Rio who drafted the business contracts, saying they loaded key clauses with ambiguous language. The complicated wording and contradictory clauses made it hard to determine what should happen if Stewart was unable to perform."  Stewart's attorneys plan to appeal.

September 8, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Newman Excused by a Condition Subsequent?

In the Seinfeld episode, “The Calzone,” George and Newman strike a deal whereby Newman will buy calzones for George to give to New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and George agrees to buy food for Newman in return.  George needs Newman to buy the calzones because he has been banned from the store.  Subsequently, the following exchange occurred:

     George: Well, I was dropping off the calzone money for the week . . . . Um, shouldn't you be at work by now?
     Newman:  Work? It's raining.
     George: Soooooo . . . .
     Newman:  I called in sick. I don't work in the rain.
     George:  You don't work in the rain?  You’re a mailman. "Neither rain nor sleet nor snow . . . .." It's the first one!
     Newman:  I was never that big on creeds.
    George: You were supposed to deliver my calzones. We had a deal!
     Newman:  I believe the deal was that I get the calzones on my mail route.  Well, today I won't be going on my mail route, will I?  Perhaps tomorrow.
     George: But I'm paying you!
     Newman:  Yes, thank you. [Slams door.]

[Wayne Barnes]

September 8, 2005 in Film Clips | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Costs of Katrina

The human misery aside, Hurricane Katrina will almost certainly go down as the most expensive disaster in U.S. history.  Unlike the second-most expensive, Hurricane Andrew, insurers apparently won't be picking up most of the tab.  The good folks at the Wharton School have a take on the probable costs, problems, and results of rebuilding, in Picking Up the Pieces.  Free registration is required.

September 8, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Singing Brakeman on Railroads

Texas_and_pacific If he hadn't died of tuberculosis at the age of 35, the first true country music star, James Charles "Jimmie" Rodgers, would be 108 today.  The "Singing Brakeman," born in Pine Springs, Mississippi, and raised in Meridian, got his nickname from his work on the railroads before disease made him turn to music.  Here's his ode to some of the great old railroads of his day.  (Images: Wikipedia)

                 Jimmie the Kid
              Words and music by
         Jimmie Rodgers & Bob Neville

I'll tell you a story of Jimmie the Kid.
He's a brakeman, you all know.
He was born in Mississippi, away down south,
And he flagged on the T. & N.O.

He yodeled to fame on the Boston Maine,
The Wabash, and the T.P.
From the old Grand Trunk to the Cotton Belt,
He yodeled on the Santa Fe.

On the Lehigh Valley, he yodeled awhile,
Then he went to the Nickel Plate.
From the old Lake Shore and the Erie Line,
He yodeled to a Cadillac Eight.

He yodeled his way to the C. & A.
The Lackawanna and I.C.
He rode a rattler called the Cannon Ball
Then he yodeled on the M.K. & T.

[Click on "continue reading" for the key to the railroads mentioned.]

Continue reading

September 8, 2005 in Quotes | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hamline Seeks Contracts Prof

Hamline_law_school Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota is looking for "promising scholar/teachers" to teach contracts  and commercial law.  Those interested should contact Professor Peter N. Thompson at this e-mail address.

[Frank Snyder]

September 8, 2005 in Help Wanted | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Analysis of Google Print Library Project

Previous posts yesterday and on August 15th discussed Google’s Print Library Project.  While this discussion may begin to sound more like material for an IP blog, it is worth clarifying information in previous posts.  In an insightful piece, Jonathan Band clears up any confusion from press reports about the project.  For example, he explains that the project consists of two facets: the Print Publisher Program and the Print Library Project. 

Continue reading

September 8, 2005 in E-commerce | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: September 8

1504: Michelangelo’s statue David is unveiled at Florence.  Underneath, he’s naked.

1565: A Spanish expedition relieves the siege of Malta, where 700 Knights Hospitaller, together with some mercenaries and townspeople, have held out against 30,000 Ottomans for nearly four months.

1636: The Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony votes to establish the first educational institution in the U.S., which they name “New College.”  The name will be changed three years later to “Harvard,” after its first donor.

1810: Thirty-three employees of John Jacob Astor’s new Pacific Fur Co. sail out of New York en route to Oregon, where they will found the town of Astoria as a fur trading post.

1900: As many as 12,000 people die when a hurricane rips through Galveston, Texas, the deadliest storm in U.S. history.  The death toll for Hurricane Katrina may pass it.

1923: Seven near-new U.S. Navy destroyers all run aground on rocks near Santa Barbara Island, California, and are lost.

1930: Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co. introduces a hot new product: Scotch brand transparent tape.

1935: Dr. Carl Weiss, M.D., fires a fatal bullet into Louisiana Governor Huey Long with a Colt .32 automatic.  Long’s bodyguards thereupon put 61 bullet holes in Weiss.

1966: The first episode of a new science fiction series called Star Trek airs on NBC.  Not many people watch.

September 8, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

AOL Settles With New York AG

America Online (AOL) recently settled with Elliot Spitzer, the high-profile Attorney General of New York, over charges that AOL imposed unnecessary and confusing obstacles to AOL customers who called in order to attempt to cancel their internet subscription service.  AOL reportedly offered substantial bonuses to customer service representatives who "saved" a customer from canceling.  The problem was that many AOL employees simply ignored such requests, rather than truly persuading the customer not to cancel.  The settlement requires AOL to eliminate any minimum "save" requirement for its employees, to secure third-party monitors for cancellation requests, and to refund money to aggrieved AOL customers whose cancellation requests were ignored.  The claim form is available here.

[Wayne Barnes]

September 7, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

News in Brief

A small satellite company that claims General Dynamics breached its agreement to help it develop a new project won a $130 judgment from a Maryland jury yesterday.  (Washington Post)

Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve says new team owner BMW is going to have to honor the 2006 contract signed with him by former owner Peter Sauber.  (F1 Central)

An F-16 pilot fired from his job for his voluntary participation in National Guard activities doesn’t have to reimburse his employer for the $13,000 in training costs he agreed to repay, says an Arkansas jury.  (Springfield-Rogers-Bentonville-Fayetteville Morning News)

New York City’s firefighters are seeking arbitration after bargaining with the city reached an impasse.  (Newsday)

Korea’s KTF has awarded a major contract to Canada’s Nortel for key equipment for a new ultra-high-speed broadband wireless service in the country’s 17 largest cities.  (Ottawa Sun)

Leaders of the Canadian Auto Workers are on Wall Street today to explain that they won’t be willing to give concessions to General Motors and Ford on a new three-year contract, pointing out that labor costs at Canadian auto plants are already $10 an hour less than those in the U.S.  (Globe and Mail)

Boeing has won another contract over its rival, Europe’s Airbus consortium, this one from Poland’s LOT national airline.  (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

The beleaguered coach of South Africa’s national soccer team apparently has no intention of resigning before his contract runs out in 2006, and the governing authority apparently has no good excuse to fire him because there's no performance clause in the agreement.  (South Africa Business Day)

September 7, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Blair visits at Hamline

Allen_blair_2 Allen Blair has joined Hamline University School of Law as a Visiting Assistant Professor.

In 1998, Blair finished work on a Masters of Arts degree in literary theory at the University of North Dakota.  Blair went on to earn his J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in 2001, where he was a Dean's Scholar.  Blair then clerked for Judge Paul A. Magnuson, former chief judge of the Federal District Court in Minnesota.  For the past two years, Blair has been a litigator at a Greene Espel P.L.L.P. in Minneapolis, focusing on complex commercial and contract litigation.

In addition to teaching Contracts, Blair is teaching International Trade and Economic Regulation and Commercial Law at Hamline this year.  He is currently finishing an article entitled You Don't Have to be Ludwig Wittgenstein: How Interpretive Communities and Llewellyn's Concept of Agreement Should Change the Law of Requirements Contracts.

[Frank Snyder]

September 7, 2005 in Contract Profs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Transition problems for Article 9

Strictly speaking, we don’t do Article 9 stuff on this blog, but enough of our readers also teach or practice Commercial Law that we thought we’d mention a useful client piece from Edwin Smith and Neil Cohen of Boston’s Bingham McCutcheon, Transition Issue Looms in Revised UCC Article 9.  It's a very nice little statutory conundrum with, as the author notes, three possible outcomes.

[Frank Snyder]

September 7, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cleveland-Marshall seeking Contracts prof

Clevelandmarshall The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University, is looking for three tenure-track faculty, one of whom will teach Contracts.  These days the former "Mistake by the Lake" is one of America's hottest locations -- routinely rated as one of America's "Most Liveable" cities and getting top marks as one of the best cities for urban hikers, with vibrant neighborhoods and miles of lakefront trails.  Click on "continue reading" for the ad.

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September 7, 2005 in Help Wanted | Permalink | TrackBack (0)