The Holiday season is a special time of year. Family and friends gather to celebrate a number of special holidays. Unfortunately, the season also seems to be the start of many lawsuits. Some of those cases are clearly serious in nature; others...not so much. Here are three of the craziest holiday lawsuits from the past 10 years.
Are Turkey Cooking Instructions Copyrightable?
Back in 2010, Greenberg Smoked Turkeys, Inc. filed suit against Goode-Cook, Inc. Both were purveyors of smoked turkeys. The complaint alleged that Goode-Cook stole instructions developed by Greenberg for cooking a smoked turkey. The instructions involved three short paragraphs filled with fairly standard instructions on how to handle and cook a turkey. Greenberg claimed that the particular wording they used fell under copyright laws, even though they are similar to every other set of instructions for handling and cooking smoked turkey.
The outcome of the lawsuit is unknown.
Do Popular Holiday Tunes Constitute Cruel And Unusual Punishment?
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the noted Arizona lawman, has faced multiple lawsuits from inmates incarcerated in the Maricopa County Jail. At least six of those lawsuits (last known filed in December 2009) were over holiday tunes. Inmates brought suit against Arpaio alleging that playing holiday music 12 hours a day, from Thanksgiving through New Years, is a violation of religious and civil rights as well as being cruel and unusual punishment. Tunes included favorites such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Ramadan" and "Feliz Navidad."
In every case brought, the federal courts have found that this musical onslaught was not a violation of anyone's rights nor does it constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Is There Any Relationship Between An Aussie Song And An Alabama Christmas Hit?
One of the more popular holiday tunes heard each year is the Alabama song, "Christmas in Dixie." (That is the country group Alabama, not the state.) An Aussie singer, Allan Caswell, sued Sony ATV in 2009, alleging "Christmas in Dixie" used the same melody as his 1979 Australian hit song "On the Inside." He did not allege the melody was stolen from him. He just wanted royalties from the Christmas tune dating back to its 1982 debut.
Caswell fought long and hard to no avail. He lost the suit in Australian court in 2014. The courts found that the melodies in both songs used common harmonic patterns found in songs around the musical world.
Let's face it. The holiday season can be a pleasant time with family and friends. Or it can be a nightmare when someone decides to sue. If you need legal representation for a holiday lawsuit, contact the experts at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C.