Chubby Checker Sues Because His Name Became a Penile App - In House
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Chubby Checker Sues Because His Name Became a Penile App

Nascar has Dick Trickle; FindLaw has Willie Peacock (see above); 1960s pop music had Chubby Checker.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that when you have a difficult name, people are going to mock it. We even understand Mr. Earnest Evans’ consternation over his stage name being used on an app that guesstimates penis size based on a man’s shoe size.

But a half-billion dollar lawsuit against HP? That’s a bit twisted. (Boom.)

For those unfamiliar with WebOS, it was Palm and HP's failed answer to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. It was a spectacular operating system tied to inferior hardware and a desert of an app store.

According to WebOS Nation, the app sold an astounding 84 copies at $0.99 each. Taking into account HP/Palm's 30% cut, that's about $24.95 worth of profit before HP pulled the app in September 2012.

Again, Chubby Checker is seeking $500,000,000.00. And we thought the Subway footlong lawsuit was ridiculous.

Checker's "famed attorney" Willie Gary issued a press release that name checks everyone in his firm and states "We cannot sit idly and watch as technology giants or anyone else exploits the name or likeness of an innocent person with the goal of making millions of dollars."

So, if you are HP's in house counsel, once you stop laughing, what do you do? Here are a few options:

  • File a few dozen motions and bury "famed attorney" Willie Gary in paperwork;
  • Offer to settle the case for the amount of profits made, via store credit on HP's online store. That should buy Chubby Checker an ink cartridge and some printer paper;
  • Issue a press release from kinda "famed attorney" John F. Schultz rallying against frivolous abuses of our court system;

Look, there are legitimate questions about whether HP is even legally responsible for the app. They didn't develop it - some defunct company did. Under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a service provider can avoid liability for content posted by users if it:

  • designates a person to receive notices of infringement and keeps that person's contact information updated;
  • adopts, implements, and informs subscribers and account holders of a policy for terminating repeat offenders;
  • accommodates and doesn't interfere with technical measures used by copyright holders to identify or protect copyrighted works;
  • has no actual knowledge of infringement and is aware of no facts or circumstances from which infringement is apparent; and
  • acts expeditiously to remove the infringing material upon notice of infringement.

Assuming HP reacted in a timely manner to Mr. Evans' complaint of copyright infringement, there isn't much of a case to be had here. The lawsuit will probably be tossed before discovery.

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