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Gene Markin is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Complex Commercial, Intellectual Property, and Cannabis Litigation Groups where he concentrates his practice on complex litigation matters involving copyright protection and infringement, trademark and trade dress infringement and enforcement, trade secret litigation, false advertising, domain name disputes, unfair competition, class actions, fraud and consumer fraud, shareholder and partner disputes, breach of contract, cannabis business disputes, cannabis intellectual property matters, cannabis insurance coverage claims, cannabis regulatory compliance, RICO actions, and state licensing agency appeals .

In November of 1971, Led Zeppelin released its iconic song, “Stairway to Heaven.” Since it made its debut, there have been lots of claims about the song: it has been played on the radio 2.8 million times; it is one of the greatest songs of all time; if you play it backward, you will hear a hidden Satanic message; and, perhaps most interestingly, that the famous intro was plagiarized.

Plagiarism claims and a history of litigation

The plagiarism claim linked the intro’s origins to a lesser-known 70s rock band, Taurus, and their song, “Spirit.” Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the estate of Randy California, the guitarist for and composer of Taurus, brought a lawsuit in 2014 alleging that Zeppelin stole the guitar intro for “Stairway” from Spirit. The lawsuit alleges that the two bands toured together in the late 1960s, and therefore, Zeppelin had “access” to Spirit’s songs.


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A recent New Jersey federal court decision denying Strike 3 the right to expedited discovery highlights a recent departure from the status quo of allowing Strike 3 to subpoena Internet Service Providers (“ISP”) such as Comcast, Verizon, and Optimum, in order to discover the identity of the individual subscriber of a certain Internet Protocol (“IP”) address that Strike 3 alleges was used to illegally download its copyrighted adult movies using the file sharing platform BitTorrent. This is good news for those who find themselves caught in the well-oiled litigation machine created by Strike 3 and Malibu Media.

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In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Appellate Division held in January 2020 that an employee’s costs to use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain resulting from a work place injury is reimbursable by his employer.

This case arose out of a construction accident in 2001. Vincent Hager was working on a construction site when a truck delivering concrete dumped its load on him. Following the accident, Hager immediately experienced lower back pain that radiated down both legs, which he described as a “shooting and stabbing pain.” Initially, Hager’s employer, M&K, denied Hager’s workers’ compensation claim. While the claim was pending, Hager began to treat his injuries/pain with marijuana, as made available by New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), and sued M&K for reimbursement.


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New Jersey is now among the first three states to have its Hemp Program approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (the “USDA”). The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production nationwide by removing hemp and its derivatives, such as CBD, from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) and by providing a detailed framework for the cultivation of hemp.

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In June 2019, the Legislature passed the New Jersey Hemp Farming Act (the “HFA”). This is great news for the “Garden State.” New Jersey has hundreds of thousands of acres in farmland and hemp cultivation may prove to be a lucrative business.

Previously, hemp cultivation in New Jersey was limited to non-germinating seeds and stalks

CBD products: you may have seen them at your local grocery store, convenience store, or chiropractor’s office in the form of gummies, brownies, sodas, and cookies. CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, which gives users a “high,” CBD contains little to no psychoactive properties, but comes with many benefits. CBD is being heavily studied and is showing great promise as a nutritional and wellness supplement. CBD products are currently being used to treat pain, inflammation, stress, and symptoms resulting from a wide range of medical conditions, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, anxiety, and chronic pain. CBD binds to the body’s cannabinoid receptors to induce feelings of calmness and pain relief. It has been hailed as a safer, more natural alternative to opioids and other addictive drugs.

While the CBD craze has resulted in an influx of CBD products hitting the market, the CBD market remains unregulated and susceptible to abuse and deceptive practices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized various CBD products from store shelves across the country after health claims relating to products which are not approved by the FDA, but suggest they are approved and/or intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. After the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act (the “Farm Bill”), which legalized the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp and hemp products, the FDA Commissioner reaffirmed that CBD, regardless of whether or not it is derived from hemp, cannot be lawfully marketed with a claim of therapeutic benefit without prior FDA approval.


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This article was co-authored with Bojana Petkovic, Project Manager, at LoudCloudHealth.com

The trend of cannabis legalization is spreading throughout the globe. Uruguay and Canada became the first two countries to fully legalize the plant for both medicinal and recreational purposes. The USA has not yet done the same on a federal level, nevertheless some states have already passed laws that allow growing, processing, distributing, and using cannabis products.

In this article, we discuss the world of cannabis legalization, talk a little bit about the history involved as well as the public’s opinion, potential benefits and risks of cannabis use, and more.


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Not all bananas are created equally. Rasta Imposta, a retail wholesaler of Halloween costumes, filed a claim for copyright and trade dress infringement and unfair competition against Kangaroo Manufacturing, another costume retailer, after Rasta’s CEO discovered Kangaroo selling a costume that resembled one of Rasta’s costumes without a license. The costumes in issue in Silvertop Assocs. v. Kangaroo Mfg., No. 18-2266, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22989 (3d Cir. Aug. 1, 2019) consisted of full-body yellow banana outfits:

banana costume copyright infringement


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This month, the Supreme Court struck down 25 U.S.C. § 1052(a) of the Lanham (Trademark) Act of 1946, which prohibited federal trademark registration of “immoral or scandalous” marks for goods and services, on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause as impermissible viewpoint-based discrimination due to its favoring of certain ideas over others.

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In December 2018, Congress approved the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “Farm Bill”) which authorized the production of hemp and removed hemp and hemp seeds from the DEA’s schedule of illegal Controlled Substances. After passage of the Farm Bill, questions arose with respect to interstate hemp transportation and who could obtain a license to produce hemp. Adding to the confusion, a number of Midwestern states seized hemp traveling through their borders and charged drivers with felonies for interstate drug trafficking.

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