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1. Whose Soul is in Whose Bowl?
Highest Court M.D. Louisiana
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs Food Manufacturer(s)
Professional Chef(s)
Defendants Food Manufacturer(s)
Robinson, Smokey
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Smokey Robinson, one of the original Miracles and among the most prominent Motown figures, was sued by Chef Johnny "Jambalaya" Percle, who alleged that Robinson's "The Soul Is In the Bowl" trademark, as used with gumbo, red beans and rice, and jambalaya, infringes Jambalaya's "Soul in Yo Bowl" trademark used with picantes, gumbos, roux, stews, red beans and rice, and jambalaya. (Plaintiff Percle also hosts his own radio show and has a band called Cajun Lightfood Band, both of which are probably awesome.) After Robinson's food line was released, Percle sued, but Smokey argued the court lacked personal jurisdiction. In an interesting and novel argument, Plaintiff argued that Smokey's advertising campaign, which continually links his products to New Orleans, was a sufficient contact with Louisiana to justify exercising jurisdiction, though Smokey's website, which is accessible in La. does not allow users to purchase directly from the site. The court disagreed with Jambalaya's assertions, holding that Smokey did not have a continuous contact with the state and did not "purposefull avail" himself of the forum's laws. A major justification for its holding was that Smokey's website was "passive," not "interactive," and thus could not form the basis for jurisdiction. - LSW

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2. Smokey Arrested By Mistake
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 1974
Plaintiffs Robinson, Smokey
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In 1967, an individual rented a limousine for three days, impersonating Smokey Robinson. The limo owner filed a complaint, and Robinson sued the city and police department after he was arrested at a San Francisco nightclub. Officers arrested him despite his attempts to show them he was not the individual on the warrant, and that they just shared aliases. The police officer made no effort to figure out if Robinson was actually Robinson. At trial, Robinson was found not guilty. A police officer has immunity for false arrest if the arrest was without malice and in reasonable belief that the person arrested is the person in the warrant. Robinson argued that the jury could have questioned the reasonableness of the officer's actions. The Appellate Court reversed the summary judgment for the police officer because a jury could decide whether the officer's was unreasonable in not allowing Robinson to prove his identity at the arrest. - JMC

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