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Feds Bust Five in $73M Fake Air Jordan Bust

You don't need to be a sneaker head to know the value of Air Jordans. Since their release 1984, annual releases of Nike's signature product are anxiously awaited, and some editions of the shoe can cost thousands of dollars on the secondary market. And if you can fool someone into thinking some fake Air Jordans are some real Air Jordans, you're making that profit instead of Nike.

You're also breaking the law. Federal prosecutors are claiming five New Yorkers -- Miyuki Suen, Jian Min Huang, Songhua Qu, Kin Lui Chen, and Fangrang Qu -- were part of an international counterfeit ring putting hundreds of thousands of fake Air Jordans on the street, and tens of millions of dollars in their pockets.

From Generic to Counterfeit

According to the federal charges (one count each of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and trafficking in counterfeit goods), the scheme was fairly complex:

[T]he Counterfeit Sneaker Ring imports containers filled with sneakers manufactured in China. These sneakers are produced to resemble Air Jordan sneakers in design and color, but, significantly, are "generic." That is, these sneakers are imported into the United States without the inclusion of logos that are trademarks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once the Generic Air Jordans arrive in the United States, they are altered within the New York area to add trademarked logos to the shoes. Once this alteration takes place, the shoes are considered "counterfeit." Thus, the Counterfeit Sneaker Ring arranges for the importation of Generic Air Jordans, the addition of USPTO-trademarked logos and marks to Generic Air Jordans to make them Counterfeit Air Jordans within the United States at a significant profit.

By Christopher Coble, Esq. 

So Can I 3D Print a Gun, or What?

A few weeks ago, the Department of Defense settled its legal battle with the designer of 3D-printed firearms, allowing the company to re-release its CAD files to the public. That announcement sent state lawmakers scrambling in an effort to keep 3D-printed guns off the market. Eight states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the federal government (11 more states have since joined that lawsuit), and last week a federal judge blocked the publication of those blueprints.

According to Defense Distributed, the company who originally created a published the 3D plans, the blueprints had already been downloaded more than 400,000 times before they were removed for the first time in 2013, and while the company had re-uploaded the files to its site prior to the judge's ruling, it has since blocked access to comply with the court order.

So, what does all this mean for you, the person who wants to 3D print a gun?

Gunned Down

"Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet," the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox asserts, "undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years." In order to comply with this law, blueprints for 3D-printed guns still require a metal firing pin and a six-ounce piece of steel to enable metal detectors to spot the guns.

Plans for plastic guns also lack critical components, like bolts, barrels, stocks, or other parts, so they're not firing live rounds hot off the 3D press. Additionally, California required that all 3D-printed guns be registered two years ago, and other states may have followed suit -- so even if you manage to print and assemble a gun, you'll probably need to register it like any other firearm.

All the Guns That Are Fit to Print

Currently, Defense Distributed's website relating to its "Liberator" 3D-printable gun reads: "This site, after legally committing its files to the public domain through a license from the U.S. Department of State, has been ordered shut down by a federal judge in the Western District of Washington." So, unless you downloaded the files pre-2013, snagged them in the short time between the settlement and the new injunction, or don't want to go elsewhere on the internet for the plans, you'll just have to wait on your 3D-printed gun until courts can balance the First and Second Amendment issues with the public safety concerns.

"There are 3-D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm," U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik wrote last week, temporarily making publication of 3D gun printing files illegal under federal law. And you surely can't sell those guns, even if you can manage to make one.

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

Nike Sued for Gender Discrimination After Self Correcting

A recent class action lawsuit filed against Nike alleges the company has discriminated against its employees by failing to pay, promote, and treat women equally. The plaintiffs are alleging that Nike demeaned and devalued women employees.

The lawsuit comes nearly a month after the company announced that it would be giving roughly 10 percent of its employees pay raises, which according to a CNBC, and any casual observer for that matter, was done to remedy the past discrimination and mistreatment of women employees that was revealed within the last year.

Remedial Measures Don't Provide a Remedy

Law students coast-to-coast are taught in torts that remedial measures are not evidence of liability. However, like most everyone knows, no one fixes nothing that isn't broken. And as lawyers, when a company takes drastic actions to fix past problems, you know there are likely a few cracked eggs that have a good case, particularly as Nike waited nearly a decade to comply with the law (the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed in 2009).

Notably, in March of this year, brand president Trevor Edwards and vice president Jayme Martin both resigned over "behavioral issues that are inconsistent with Nike's values." In today's world of #MeToo and #TimesUp, that's pretty much code for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The complaint, filed by two former employees, alleges that:

  • "Women's career trajectories are blunted because they are marginalized and passed over for promotions."
  • "Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options....Male bad behavior is rarely penalized."

The suit claims that the company failed to handle sexual harassment complaints, and routinely denied women opportunities.

Shoot!

For companies trying to remedy past business practices that violate the law, it's might be best to heed the advice of Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez, from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: If you're going to do something, do it, don't talk about it first (especially if there's exposure).

George Khoury, Esq.

Trump Emoluments Case Can Proceed, Federal Judge Says

Don't expect President Trump to check out of his own hotel, but some of his foreign guests may have to following a court ruling.

A federal judge ruled that the emoluments case may proceed against the president, based on allegations that he has profited from foreign or state officials while in office. Maryland and Washington, D.C. filed suit against him for violating the emoluments clause by receiving income from the Trump International Hotel.

Trump's attorneys tried to throw out the lawsuit, but the judge said an emolument is "any profit, gain or advantage." The ruling was a big tip -- and a lot more than a $20 bill -- that the president might be in trouble.

Emolument Definition

In District of Columbia v. Trump, Judge Peter Messitte ruled the plaintiffs had a plausible claim that payments made by foreign and state governments to the hotel violated the Constitution's foreign and domestic emoluments clauses.

The president's attorneys had argued the prohibition against emoluments doesn't apply to a president, but the judge didn't buy it. (Messitte is not on the president's short list and probably won't be, just saying.)

"The historical record reflects that the framers were acutely aware of and concerned about the potential for foreign or domestic influence of any sort over the president," Messitte wrote.

It could be a game-over kind of ruling because the paper trail is clear. It's not like tracing $150,000 or $130,000 that was allegedly paid to a Playmate or porn star for "silence," right?

One More or Less Emolument

In any case, it's not the first time Trump has been sued over emoluments. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and a restaurant industry group filed suit against the president, but it was dismissed.

Judge George Daniels said the plaintiffs lacked standing. He also said it's up to Congress, not the courts, to decide whether the president should divest his business interests while in office.

"Congress is not a potted plant," he noted. "It is a co-equal branch of the federal government with the power to act as a body in response to defendant's alleged foreign emoluments clause violations, if it chooses to do so."

(Trump won't be elevating Daniels, either. He's a Clinton appointee.)

By William Vogeler, Esq.

Jilted to Gilded: North Carolina Husband Gets $8.8M From Man Who Slept With His Wife

For the most part, courts aren't concerned with telling people who they can and can't sleep with. Sodomy laws are unconstitutional, and even the states that still have them rarely enforce their adultery statutes. But there's one legal claim jilted lovers can use to extract some financial penance from those with whom their spouses cheated, and one state that appears all too happy to order millions in relationship restitution.

Keith King says his wife's affair with Francisco Huizar ruined their marriage. And a North Carolina judge is ordering Huizar to pay King over $8 million in damages. Must've been some marriage.

The Price of Affection

So-called alienation of affection lawsuits are nothing new. And they've ensnared some pretty famous folks. Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox was sued last year by a man claiming Cox's affair with his wife destroyed their marriage. Former presidential candidate John Edwards' wife threatened to sue his aide Andrew Young for facilitating her husband's affair with another woman. Even golfer John Daly's ex had her case appealed to the Supreme Court.

And many of the biggest awards for alienation of affection are coming out of the Tar Heel State. An estimated 200 such suits are filed in North Carolina each year, leading to some pretty big payouts. In 2010, a jilted Mrs. Cynthia Shackelford won $9 million from her husband's mistress, and in 2011, a judge in Raleigh awarded $30 million to Betty Puryear, the former wife of a trucking company owner.

Breaking Up a Happy Home?

In this case, Durham County judge awarded King, the owner of a BMX bike stunt show company, more than $8.8 million: $2.2 million in compensatory damages and triple that in punitive damages. According to court documents and testimony, Keith and Danielle King married in 2010 and have a 5-year-old daughter. King claimed the affair, and an assault by Huizar, cost his business revenue and an employee (Danielle worked for the company) and increased his expenses on household help, child care, and counseling.

Huizar's attorney, Cheri Patrick, claimed her client was not responsible for breaking up a marriage that was already damaged beyond repair. Danielle King testified that the marriage had been unhappy from the first year and that she pursued Huizar. "This marriage needed one more blow before it was over," Patrick said. And then there was the alleged "discovery" set-up, in which Danielle, who had since moved into an apartment with Huizar (unbeknownst to King), asked her husband for help with electrical trouble and had Huizar answer the door when King arrived. King's attorney claims the pair were setting him up for a domestic violence allegation, and the resulting scuffle left King with PTSD.

The multimillion-dollar award will do little to stem the flow of alienation of affection lawsuits, and more judges and juries are likely to drag sordid bedroom details into the courtroom.

by Christopher Coble, Esq.

Do You Have to Carry ID With You at All Times?

Can you leave the house without your ID? It seems like a silly question to most, but with some shifts in state immigration laws, it has become a serious question.

In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to carry your ID on you at all times. But here's what you might expect in the real world:

When You Leave Your Home...

Despite the questionable legal status of Arizona's immigration laws, there is no place in the nation where simply being in public without ID is illegal.

However, there are several states in which it is an arrestable offense if you refuse to identify yourself to police. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that these kinds of laws can be legal, as long as the officers had reasonable suspicion to detain you in the first place.

In states with these laws, like Arizona and Nevada, you may be required to give police your full legal name. But you don't have to answer any other questions, and you shouldn't need any form of identification.

When You're in a Store...

Federal courts have held that certain stores may legally require you provide ID in order to make a return. You can also be legally required to show ID for the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, or even cold medicine.

When You're Driving...

Driving without a license is a crime in all states and in Washington, D.C. This means you need to have your valid driver's license on hand if an officer stops you while driving. Failing to show proof of a valid license is a lesser offense than not having a license at all, but it can still be a crime.

When You Vote...

There is a rising trend in many states to require photo IDs to be presented in order to vote. The federal government sued Texas over its voter ID law in August, claiming that the law discriminated against ethnic minorities.

If your state has one of these laws, it may be legal for ballot officials to require you to show a form of photo ID. Contact a local civil rights attorneyif you feel your state's laws are keeping you from voting.

If you're not involved in one of the activities above, you should be OK to not carry your ID.

By Brett Snider, Esq.

Court Rules Breakfast Cereals Don't Need Cancer Warning

Luckily for Californians, breakfast has been saved.

After a California judge said coffee products must include a cancer warning because of a chemical in roasted coffee beans, the legislature jumped in to save the bean. Then another judge ruled against cereal-makers because of the same carcinogen.

But a state appeals court threw out the ruling in Post v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County. And no, the carcinogen is not caffeine or sugar.

Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a chemical compound, and it has been seen as a possible cause of cancer for decades. Prop. 65, enacted as California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, requires warnings on products with such carcinogens.

That's why the Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Starbucks to put the warning label on its coffee. Wide-eyed lawmakers moved swiftly to overrule that decision with new regulations.

Meanwhile, the judge in the Post case ruled against the cereal makers' motion for summary judgment. The Second District Court of Appeals said that was a mistake.

The appeals court was persuaded by statements from the Food and Drug Administration that no Prop. 65 warning for acrylamide should be placed on foods unless science dictates it.

Baking, Frying, and Roasting

Acrylamide is generated naturally in carbohydrate-rich goods that are baked, roasted, fried, or deep fried. That includes French fries, potato chips, crackers, brown bread -- and 59 cereals made by Post and General Mills.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the appeals court observed, said that since the chemical "appears to form from standard cooking methods like baking, frying, and roasting, it has been in the human diet for many thousands of years."

By William Vogeler, Esq.