Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Strange Lawsuits Category

Fruity fraud. Ripened rip-off. Peeled pretender. Banana sham?

When a company called Rasta Imposta sues Kmart, accusing the store of selling carbon copies of its copyrighted banana costume, the puns will follow, so we'll get them out of the way here. And while this may sound like an open-and-shut case of an object so ubiquitous as to defy copyright protection, wait until you hear what the Supreme Court said about cheerleading uniforms.

At first glance, a judge saying the iconic Civil Rights anthem 'We Shall Overcome' has the same copyright protection as the iconic birthday anthem 'Happy Birthday' (which is to say, none) doesn't seem that odd. After all, both songs are older than any living person, come from indefinite origins, and are sung so ubiquitously that paying royalties every time a line is uttered seems absurd.

And yet, none of those reasons for denying copyright protections is a legal one, and the path to the public domain for the former song was a bit different than that for the latter.

Some lawsuits you just shouldn't read about until after lunch. The In-N-Out burger trademark infringement case against Smashburger is one such lawsuit, as the juicy details are bound to make burger lovers salivate.

In short, In-N-Out alleges that Smashburger violated their trademark on the phrase "Double Double" which is used to describe one of the few menu selections offered at the burger chain. The allegations rest upon Smashburger's recent menu addition from this past summer, the "Triple Double."

It's not hard to imagine walking into a doughnut shop, wanting all those sweet, glazed calories, noticing some fruity options on the menu, and thinking to yourself, "That sounds like a healthy option for my sweet glazed calories -- I'll go with the blueberry doughnut." These could be the thoughts of many doughnut shop customers; those who go to Krispy Kreme and those who go to Dunkin' Donuts.

It's also not hard to imagine that those customers might be disappointed upon learning the blueberries in their sweet, glazed donuts were not actually blueberries. So disappointed, in fact that they would want to sue the doughnut shop, whether it be a Krispy Kreme or a Dunkin' Donuts. And you might even imagine attorneys for one of those disappointed customers copying and pasting large sections of one fake blueberry doughnut lawsuit into another.

Cracking open a 24-oz can of Heineken and noting 'a foul taste' is not an uncommon occurrence. Experiencing 'severe abdominal pain followed by vomiting,' on the other hand, only happens to some of us.

It also happened to California resident George Toubbeh back in August 2015. And when his daughter examined the tall can she discovered two small intruders -- juvenile leopard geckos, who, due to their un-decomposed nature, were probably alive and kicking when the beer was poured and sealed into the can. We know the Euro-lager is light on the hops, but geez ...

It would be one thing if Afzal Lokhandwala were advertising buckets of KFC as "holy" or posting a sign that said God loves his thighs extra crispy. Instead, Lokhandwala is merely trying to reassure his thousands of Muslim customers that the chicken served at his eight Chicago-area franchises is certified "Halal," or butchered properly under Islamic law. Which it is -- Lokhandwala even registered, at KFC's suggestion, as a dealer of Halal food products with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Still, KFC is refusing to allow Lokhandwala to post signage stating the company's products at his locations are Halal, and threatening possible termination of his franchises if he does. Fearing the loss of customers, Lokhandwala is now suing to make religious claims about the chicken, and keep his stores open.

If you put a million monkeys at a million typewriters, eventually, you'll be sued by PETA. However, if one of those monkeys types "it was the best of bananas, it was the worst of bananas," and you publish that breakthrough in random text generation without the monkey's permission, will that monkey be able to sue you for copyright infringement? PETA thinks so.

Currently, whether a primate can even hold a copyright is being decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Spoiler alert, the court is more likely than not going to say no. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit over the now world-famous macaque selfie back in 2015. PETA is seeking a court order not just awarding the copyright to the primate, but also wants to be authorized to control the proceeds earned from the photograph, on the animal's behalf.

One resident of the Trump Palace tower in Miami, Florida, has filed a lawsuit against the condo tower. However, unlike most lawsuits these days against a Trump entity, there's nothing political about this one. The case is due to a cleaning crew that threw away 15 paintings, which were worth approximately $80,000.

According to one report, the plaintiff, Ronny Lustigman, is an art dealer and collector. Last year, he had the paintings delivered to his condo. Rather than store the paintings inside his unit, the paintings were stored in a hallway where residents often store items. Unfortunately, the cleaning crew allegedly mistook the paintings for garbage and hauled them away. Sadly, it's reported that Lustigman only recovered one of the paintings, since, luckily, the driver of the garbage truck saw the paintings and took one home. The rest were hauled away. Presently, it is unknown what became of the other 14 works.

For the first minute, and each minute after that, a phone-sex operator has filed a lawsuit claiming that her employer is violating minimum wage laws. While expectant customers can pay $5 per minute, the operators, shockingly, only make between $0.10 to $0.07 per minute. That means, at best, operators are making $6.00 per hour and potentially only $4.20 per hour. Other services are equally unimpressive.

The lawsuit alleges that the company, Tele Pay, which operates the nation's leading phone-sex network, systematically pays workers below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The lawsuit explains that Tele Pay does not claim to be employing individuals but rather claims to be acting as a talent booking service looking to connect entertainers with individuals.

A recent lawsuit filed by PayPal against Pandora alleges that the music streaming company has infringed upon the payment processor's double 'P' logo. Although Pandora's P is only a single P and PayPal uses a double P, the trademark infringement lawsuit claims Pandora's logo confuses mobile app users.

PayPal's lawsuit seeks a court order forcing Pandora to stop using the infringing logo, as well as pay damages, and attorneys' fees, to PayPal. The lawsuit itself contains several pictorial depictions of the logos, as well as several examples of users claiming confusion on various social media platforms.