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Folklaw, 2 September 2005

Folklaw, 2 September 2005

Tit for tatBurger King Corporation has responded to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from legal representatives of the heavy metal band Slipknot by taking the matter to court themselves. The letter…

Tit for tat

Burger King Corporation has responded to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from legal representatives of the heavy metal band Slipknot by taking the matter to court themselves. The letter related to a parody ad for the fast-food restaurant chain’s chicken fries that featured a fictitious metal band called Coq Roq, the members of which sport chicken masks. For those of you not in the know, masks — though not chicken ones — are Slipknot’s trademark.

Burger King has asked the court to rule that the use of the band does not violate Slipknot’s rights of publicity or trademark. The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that the letter claimed the commercials were “designed to conjure up the image and persona of a live performance of Slipknot”. Apparently, the members of Coq Roq also wear a Kabuki mask, gas mask and dreadlocks, as do Slipknot’s members. Masks or no masks, Folklaw doesn’t really see why someone should be able to use their publicity or trademark rights to stop someone taking the mickey out of them. Where will this legal madness end?

Lies, all lies

In another case of honesty not being the best policy, a complaint has been filed against a doctor in the US after he told a woman she was obese and needed to lose weight if she was to salvage her health. Associated Press quoted Dr Terry Bennett: “I told a fat woman she was obese. I tried to get her attention. I told her, ‘You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.’”

But the woman was offended and complained that he had been hurtful, not helpful. Bennett says he wrote a letter of apology to the woman when he found out she was offended but that wasn’t enough for the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, which initially investigated the complaint then asked the attorney general’s office to investigate. Folklaw can’t deny that doctors aren’t always as compassionate and tactful as they should be, but we also acknowledge that the bearers of unpleasant news are often spurned.

It doesnt bring them back

Folklaw rues the trend of people suing when they lose their loved ones. In cases of blatant and extreme negligence it is most definitely understandable, and more often than not there is a very good reason for taking action. But the Los Angeles Times has reported that Yosemite National Park is being sued by the parents of a rock climber who was killed by a rock slide while scaling a face in the park.

They are going for US$10 million on the basis that an overflow from a waste-water system weakened the face and made it susceptible to a slide. If the suit was successful it could lead to bans on rock climbing at Yosemite — and possibly everywhere else in the world. Reassuringly, climbers have sided with the park, saying climbers assume the risk of rock slides. Well, at least there is one voice of reason out there in litigation wonderland.

Public liability

Suing the council for letting toxins seep into the town’s water supply; suing the local doctor for prescribing hallucinogenic remedies … these could be the routes taken by hundreds of residents of Ljubovija in Serbia who have reported seeing a cloaked figure flying over their houses.

Authorities are investigating the claims, in which hundreds of residents have reported a real-life Superman flying above buildings “as if he had an invisible engine on his back” and changing direction in mid air. Local daily Blic quoted one local saying: “It was like something out of Superman or Batman. No one has any rational explanation for what we all saw.” Local police have refused to comment.

The madness continues

We at Folklaw are seriously considering a move to Romania — it sounds like our kind of place. Two Romanian drug dealers have been arrested after they accepted a lift from a passing drugs squad officer. Two 22-year-olds, Catalin Vasile and Gheorghita Marienescu from Targu Frumos had just filled their rucksacks with 25 ounces of cannabis from their plantation and started hitching back into town.

When it started to rain, a passing off duty police officer, from the local drugs squad felt sorry for the bedraggled pair and picked them up. “I smelt the cannabis on them as soon as they had shut the doors,” he said. He drove them straight to the local police station and it was later discovered that they had been cultivating the drugs for some time and selling them locally. The pair now faces up to five years’ jail on charges of growing and dealing drugs.

My Mercedes

A Brazilian maid won a legal battle against her wealthy bosses to keep a Mercedes car she won in a raffle. Rogenas da Silva won the car after buying groceries at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro, but Adelino and Sandra Bulhosa, her employers sued for a share in the prize. The couple, which already owns four cars, said they were entitled to a share because da Silva had been shopping for them as well as herself at the supermarket.

However, the court decided that da Silva, who lives in a shanty town, was the rightful owner and gave her the car. Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted the victorious woman saying: “The nightmare is over, I will sell the car and buy myself a house”

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Folklaw, 2 September 2005
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