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Contract with Chipmunks Breached
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 2010
Plaintiffs Business Entity of Artist(s)
Defendants Capitol Records
Other Bogdasarian, Ross
Chipmunks
Short Description Alvin and the Chipmunks first came to prominence during the 1960s, but long after their creator died, his son revived the business in the 1980s, which turned out to be immensely popular among kids of the day and ever since. This lawsuit arose from a contract signed in 1968 between Ross Bagdasarian, the Chipmunk's creator, and Capitol Records, the successor-in-interest to Liberty Records, with whom Bagdasarian agreed the Chipmunk's albums would be made. However, over the years since, Capitol has licensed the sound recordings for many other purposes, such as background music in television and movies. This lawsuit alleged that such licensing overstepped the terms of the contract, which only provided Capitol the rights to make phonograph reproductions. Despite the 40 years that had passed since the contracts were signed, the court held that Plaintiff's actions were not barred by statutes of limitation or the doctrine of laches. Furthermore, the court interpreted the contract according to Plaintiff's reading; the agreement only gave Defendant permission to make records, but not to license the songs. Defendants' extrinsic evidence only reinforced this interpretation. Though copyrights do not apply to pre-1972 sound recordings, such as those subject to the 1968 contract, Plaintiff's intangible property right in the recordings were based in a California statute preventing "plagiarism" under an unfair competition rubric. The appellate court reversed the trial court's finding for Defendant as a matter of law. - LSW

Legal Issues
Civil Procedure Evidence Admissibility
Contracts Breach Payment & Performance
  Terms Construction & Interpretation
General Affirmative Defenses Statutes of Limitation
  Equitable Defenses Laches
Torts Property Torts Conversion
Trademarks & Unfair Competition State Statute/Common Law Unfair Competition, False Advertising & Related Torts


Opinions Bagdasarian Productions, LLC v. Capitol Records, Inc.
2010 WL 3245795
California Court of Appeal , August 18, 2010 ( No. B217960 )


Bagdasarian Productions, LLC v. Capitol Records, Inc.
2009 WL 2000637
Superior Court of California , May 27, 2009 ( No. BC 384048 )


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Related Searches Parties
Bogdasarian, Ross ( Other )
Business Entity of Artist(s) ( Plaintiff )
Capitol Records ( Defendant )
Chipmunks ( Other )

Legal Issues
Civil Procedure / Evidence / Admissibility
Contracts / Breach / Payment & Performance
Contracts / Terms / Construction & Interpretation
General / Affirmative Defenses / Statutes of Limitation
General / Equitable Defenses / Laches
Torts / Property Torts / Conversion
Trademarks & Unfair Competition / State Statute/Common Law / Unfair Competition, False Advertising & Related Torts

Courts
California Court of Appeal (highest court)
Superior Court of California


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