Friday, April 20, 2012

New Blog Tracks the Las Vegas Sound Choice Lawsuit

For regular readers who have noticed a lack of activity on this blog, it’s the classic conundrum of client demands getting in the way of blogging.  I hope to be back to normal posting in mid-May (of course, I said that back in January and look what happened).

One story that I would have like to have covered is the “trademark infringement” lawsuit filed by Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation against karaoke DJs (“KJs”) and venues in Las Vegas for alleged infringement of the SOUND CHOICE trademark.  (Las Vegas Sun articles here and here). 

I’ve been watching Slep-Tone pursue its “litigation business model” going all the way back to 2009 (back before Steve Gibson’s Righthaven brought a new name to the business model of filing lawsuits to get quick settlements).   All one has to do is type “sound choice lawsuit” into a search engine and you’ll find numerous sources (e.g., SoundChoiceSucks) commenting on Slep-Tone’s lawsuit campaign  (including Sound Choice’s own web page about why it is pursuing this “piracy campaign” and Sound Choice’s uber-aggressive investigation firm APS and Associates).

Well, it was only a matter of time before Slep-Tone made its way to “sin city” to troll for some quickie settlements here by filing a single, boilerplate lawsuit naming approx. 200 KJs and venues.  See Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation v. Ellis Island Casino & Brewery et al, Case No. 12-cv-00239 (D. Nev.) (lawsuit here).   This lawsuit was actually a long-time coming.  Slep-Tone’s investigation firm, APS, was trolling (pun intended) around Las Vegas last May and June 2011 doing its “investigations” into potential KJs and venues it could sue.  Letters were sent out at that time citing the KJs as potential trademark violators – and demanding that they submit themselves to an audit to determine that their Sound Choice tracks were legitimate.  Those who did not respond or otherwise settle are now the defendants in this mass-trademark infringement lawsuit. 

I am a big believer that knowledge is power and using the internet to inform the public (particularly, in this case, small-time KJs who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to defend against Slep-Tone’s specious lawsuit).  I was originally planning to start up a separate website that would monitor and track the Las Vegas Sound Choice lawsuit (posting the major court filings so that others could benefit from law firm work product as well as articles and other information already out there).  A single resource that had good, usable information to assist those caught up in Slep-Tone’s questionable lawsuit.   

Well, the lack of blogging here should be an indication of the time (or lack thereof) that I had to pursue such a project.  And now someone else has beaten me to it.

Local attorney Robert J. Kossack, Esq. started up  As he describes on his “About the Host” page, he started out writing an article for a magazine about the lawsuit and it took on a life of its own.  His detailed post “Massive lawsuit threatens to change karaoke in Las Vegas” details the legal issues pretty well.  (I don’t have the time to get into the merits of the lawsuit, but needless to say, I have always been bothered by the counterfeiting claims because it seemed like a reach on the part of Slep-Tone just so that it could threaten small-time defendants with statutory damages for infringement). 

In addition, Mr. Kossack has not only made available all of the major court filings in the lawsuit (link here), but he even provides “template” joinders (one for motions to dismiss and one for motions to sever) that pro-se KJs who can’t afford an attorney can copy and paste (hey, what do you think lawyers do?) and file with the court so in order to “join” the motion to dismiss and motion to sever filed by the larger casino venues (PTs, Caesars, Treasure Island, Station Casinos) to ensure that Slep-Tone cannot get a default judgment against you (at least not at this early stage). 

Mr. Kossack has done exactly what I wanted to do in order to inform the public (especially KJs) about the Las Vegas Sound Choice lawsuit.  And that is why is my new favorite blog.  I think it has the potential to become another website along the lines of those which popped up during the Righthaven debacle (Righthaven Lawsuits, Righthaven Victims).

I just hope he doesn’t get too busy dealing with client demands  -- after all, nothing worse than a blog where months go by without any new postings.