Fall 2008 open memo assignment palin v. trudeau and action doll mfr. (a m)
MEMORANDUMTO: Junior Associates (A-M)FROM: Senior Partner Goering and Senior Associate MuirRE: New ClientDATE: September 30, 2008 Yesterday we were retained by a new client to defend a possible lawsuit by SarahPalin. She apparently just learned that cartoonist Garry Trudeau has published a series ofDoonesbury comic strips that include her image in the form of a “Sarah Palin action doll.” Our client is a Connecticut corporation, HeroBuilders.com. Thecompany recently began manufacturing and selling Sarah Palin look-alike “action dolls” on its internet website. As you might imagine, giventhe instant celebrity status Palin recently acquired as John McCain’svice-presidential running mate, the dolls are selling like hotcakes. Infact, I just logged on to the company’s website and learned that thecompany has received so many orders that prospective purchasers whoorder after September 24 are being advised to expect a six-week delay.(Check it out for yourself: http://www.herobuilders.com/08.htm). Thedolls sell for between $27.95 and $29.95 (depending upon the doll’s outfit and accessories),so our client is making a tidy profit. Of course that’s very good news for our firm. Although HeroBuilders.com also manufactures look-alike action figures of othernationally known celebrities, our client and its competitors generally secure licenseagreements to produce look-alikes of others. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger, theGovernor of California, recently settled a lawsuit against an Ohio company thatmanufactured a “Terminator” bobble-head doll. As part of the settlement, the companyagreed to redesign the doll and donate the sales proceeds to one of Schwarzenegger’sfavorite charities. Unfortunately, our client neither sought nor obtained permission fromPalin to market the “action figure” dolls. Obviously the company was in a big hurry toprofit from her instantaneous celebrity status before the upcoming election, so it decided totake its chances and skip negotiations with her for a license agreement. ThusHeroBuilders.com was not surprised to learn that Palin is considering a lawsuit. As you probably already know, many bloggers and newscasters have referred toPalin pejoratively as the “Barbie doll of the GOP” since McCain surprised the country onthe eve of the Republican National Convention by naming her as his running mate. Nodoubt she is particularly upset by the dolls and the comic-strip because she does not want tobe type-cast to the country as the Republican “beauty queen.” Not only does she wantHeroBuilders to stop producing the dolls, but she is also threatening to sue Trudeau fordamages for exploiting her image in the comic-strip series.
Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3 It’s probably fair to assume that the publicity Trudeau’s comic strip is giving theaction-figure doll is making things worse for the McCain-Palin campaign. Our client hasno idea whether Trudeau plans to continue mocking her in the comic strip, but of course wecan’t control that. HeroBuilders.com wants us to find out whether Palin has a legal right toput a stop to its doll marketing efforts before the presidential election on November 4.Also, if the McCain-Palin ticket doesn’t win the presidential election, can Palin recoverdamages from either HeroBuilders or Garry Trudeau, or both, for exploiting her image?(By the way, did you know that Trudeau is married to Jane Pauly? I guess it’s a smallworld in the broadcast news business. Like Pauly, Palin got her start as a television newsbroadcaster.) Please research the legal issues. Specifically, does Sarah Palin have a legal remedyagainst HeroBuilders.com for using her name and three-dimensional likeness without herpermission to produce and market the Sarah Palin look-alike doll? Second, does Palin havea legal remedy against Garry Trudeau for featuring the doll in his copyrighted comic strip?In case you need to know, HeroBuilders.com is a Connecticut corporation, so Connecticutlaw will apply to an action against HeroBuilders. Garry Trudeau lives and works in NewYork City, so New York law will apply to any claim Palin may have against Trudeau.Don’t overlook the possible application of federal law as a defense to either or both claims.Please assume that Palin will file her complaint in federal district court in Connecticut. I have a followup meeting with the CEO of HeroBuilders.com on Friday, October24. Therefore, I will need a draft of your memo no later than Thursday, October 23, at 5:00p.m., in order to have enough time to read it over and think about it before our nextconference. I have attached part of HeroBuilders.com’s internet advertisement, including aphoto of the Sarah Palin dolls, and a copy of the Doonesbury comic strip series for yourinformation. Thanks so much for your help. Oh yes -- you may enjoy the following videospoof of the Sarah Palin action dolls, which I just found on the internet:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCSonCYCN9Y&feature=dir You may discuss the assignment with any of your first-year law school classmatesin this section. However, it is a violation of the Honor Code to show your written work toanyone except me or Jared Muir, my senior associate. Please review the attachedguidelines regarding the Honor Code. If you have any questions about whether certainconduct violates the Honor Code, you are expected to consult Jared or me for guidance.Attachments: • Herobuilders.com Website Advertisement for Sarah Palin Action Figures • Doonesbury comic strip, September 21-27, 2008 • Honor Code Guidelines for Graded Memos and Briefs
Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3 HeroBuilders.com 198 Goodhill road | Oxford, CT | 06478 | 203-888-0147 | firstname.lastname@example.org Home | Custom Pez | Political Action Figures | Custom Action Figures | The Urban Crew Action Figures | GET THE 12" SARAH PALIN ACTION FIGURE BELOW ORDER NOW BEFORE THEY SELL OUT YES, WE SHIP GLOBALLY. DISCOUNT FOR THIS PRODUCT LINE As of 9-18-08 Orders will not ship for 3 to 4 weeks. All orders placed starting 9-24-08 will take 6 weeks to ship. Want to be an Action Figure Too ???? Order your custom action figure today! Our Personalized Action Figures Look, dress, and talk just like you !!!!! Order your Christmas Gifts early! Get 10% off all orders placed before November 1, 2008. CLICK HERE AFTER YOU ORDER YOUR SARAH PALIN ACTION FIGURES Sarah Palin Super Hero ActionSarah Palin Action Figure $27.95 Sarah Palin School Girl $29.95 Figure $29.95
Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3Monday, September 22, 2008Tuesday, September 23, 2008Wednesday, September 24, 2008Thursday, September 25, 2008
Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3Friday, September 26, 2008Saturday, September 27, 2008
Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3 Honor Code Guidelines for Graded Memos and Briefs Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing I and IIQ: Who is allowed to see my memo or brief?A: You may not show your memo or brief to anyone except me and Jared Muir, my teaching assistant. Please understand that this requirement is indeed as limited as it sounds. You may not show your paper to your spouse, sweetheart, best friend, mother, significant other, or anyone else, even "just to proofread" or "just to see what she thinks." This applies even if youve "always had so-and-so proofread all my papers."Q: With whom may I research and discuss my memo or brief problem?A: You may research and discuss your memo and brief problems only with fellow members of the A3 Section, Washburn Law School librarians, Jared Muir, or me. Reading your memo or brief to another individual is not discussion and is not allowed. Please understand that this requirement is, again, as limited as it sounds. This means you may not discuss your problem or your paper with students from other classes or other LARW sections, with mentors, with tutors, with attorneys, with other professors, with parents, with siblings, or with any of your friends who are not Section A3 students.Q: What should I do if I have a question on what is permissible and what is not?A: Ask me in class, come see me, e-mail me, phone me, or drop a note in my mailbox in Room 203. You must check with me before doing anything else.Q: How long do these restrictions last for any particular assignment?A: Until I announce in class that they are lifted.
Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3Q: What should I do if I know that somebody is violating these rules?A: Under the Honor Code, you have a responsibility to come to me with names and details, so that I can begin an investigation. I will vigorously pursue an investigation of any violation for which I have evidence. However, please understand that I can do nothing with rumor or innuendo.Q: So, is cheating a common problem?A: No, it is not. It is rare, in my experience both as a student and a professor. Most students who are intelligent and disciplined enough to get into law school don’t need any rules at all, because they abide by the simple rule that it is unfair to do anything on a graded assignment that would give them an unfair advantage over fellow law students. But cheating has happened before, and therefore I am spelling out the rules to assure you that anyone who breaks these rules is either too ignorant or too unethical to belong in the legal profession.Q: Dont these restrictions defeat some educational benefits?A: Yes, indeed, they do. In legal practice, it is beneficial to talk about a memo or brief problem with anyone you think may be able to help, subject to your ethical duty to keep your client communications confidential. But law school is not "real life." Requiring you to write a memo and a brief entirely on your own is intended to be of great benefit to you, but that is not the only purpose. The other purpose of graded assignments is to test your ability to apply legal research, analysis, and writing skills you learn through reading, exercises, and class discussion. So, in the weeks to come, please remember: THIS IS A TEST.