Friday, November 21, 2008

Ethical Tacos

Andrew Longstreth of American Lawyer edits a really great free newsletter called the Am Law Litigation Daily. I wanted to share one of his entries (I hope he's flattered) because it is clever, and made me think of an Ethics Follies parody. The take away is that you may avoid breaking the law, but when you violate the spirit of the law and damage who it is meant to protect, your ethical compass may be off kilter. In this case, it's possible both Parties are frontin'. Enjoy:

"When Taco Bell used 50 Cent's name in a promotion to sell tacos over the summer, the gangsta rapper talked tough and threatened legal action. "When my legal team is finished with them," he said, "Taco Bell is going to have a new corporate slogan: 'We messed with the bull and got the horns.'" Oh, snap! Fifty, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, wasn't just fronting. He hired an IP lawyer, Peter Raymond of Reed Smith, who filed a $4 million suit in the Southern District of New York against Taco Bell, claiming the restaurant chain infringed 50 Cent's trademark.At issue is a letter sent by Taco Bell's president to 50's agent (but also distributed to the media). In the letter, available here, Taco Bell offered to donate $10,000 to a charity of 50 Cent's choice if he would temporarily change his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent, or 99 Cent and rap at a Taco Bell drive thru. In 50 Cent's complaint, his lawyers claim the letter was in reality an advertisement and that Taco Bell did not have permission to use the artist's name.Taco Bell's lawyers at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler have been talking smack, too. In the restaurant chain's response, filed in September, they begin by declaring that "Jackson is a self-described former drug dealer and hustler." Oh, no they didn't! "Jackson has used his colorful past to cultivate a public image of belligerence and arrogance and has a well-publicized track record of making threats, starting feuds, and filings lawsuits," they continue. "This lawsuit is another of Jackson's attempts to burnish his gangsta rapper persona by distorting beyond all recognition a bona fide, good faith offer that Taco Bell made to Jackson."Fifty's lawyer, Reed Smith's Raymond, told us that he "disagrees with all the false allegations" of Taco Bell's lawyers. He also said he found it "curious" that Taco Bell describes 50 Cent as such a disreputable character, given that the restaurant was once so eager to be associated with him. "

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