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Any student of history knows about the Vandals, the Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in 455 A.D. The Vandals are in the news again, with another victory over a much larger foe. In 2004 the punk band The Vandals released an album, “Hollywood Potato Chip,” that Hollywood trade newspaper Variety claimed infringed on its own trademarked logo. The band reached an agreement with Variety‘s parent company, Reed Elsevier (known in the legal community for its LexisNexis publishing division, a set of leading research tools) under which The Vandals changed their cover art and would be liable for $50,000 plus attorneys fees if they ever broke the agreement.
In 2010 Reed Elsevier sued for breach of contract, claiming the offending image appeared on the band’s Web site. The Vandals denied responsibility, and set out to represent themselves in the business litigation case. The band’s bassist and long-time centerpiece, Joe Escalante, is also a lawyer and hosts a radio show called “Barely Legal Radio” that covers entertainment law matters. When Reed Elsevier brought its case in Delaware’s federal court based on a venue clause in the agreement, he represented the defendants and moved to transfer the case to the federal court in Los Angeles, which had overseen the initial dispute. Reed Elsevier is represented by Fulbright & Jaworski, a law firm with hundreds of lawyers and 16 offices around the world. The firm handles business litigation cases, as well as suits that fall under other practice areas.
The Vandals have had great fun on their Web site mocking Variety over the lawsuit, and won a significant victory in obtaining the change in venue Mr. Escalante requested. The judge’s brief order finds that “the interests of justice overwhelmingly favor allowing this case to proceed” in Los Angeles for multiple reasons, including the costs of litigating in Delaware and the defendants’ limited funds. The business litigation case will move forward in California, where most of the relevant documents and witnesses are located.
This illustrates how the quality of one’s legal arguments and their presentation can outweigh significant apparent odds. Clever, well prepared, business dispute lawyer or small firm can compete effectively against even the largest law offices. At Abronson Law, our attorneys embrace and embody that point of view, handling business litigation cases with an efficiency that can be difficult for a larger business firms to match. We are happy to offer a free initial consultation to discuss your business litigation needs.
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