TIME Advertising

This Ad Is Making Italian Pizza Makers Very Mad

A stock photograph of pizza
Getty Images

Don't mess with the True Neapolitan Pizza Association

McDonald’s has besmirched the reputation of Neapolitan pizza, and Neapolitan pizza — as a whole — is fighting back. A TV commercial in Italy shows a young boy rejecting the gooey goodness of the traditional Italian grub in favor of a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Amusing? Sure. But actionable? Maybe. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) — or True Neapolitan Pizza Association — is threatening a lawsuit, calling the Italian-language TV spot a “dishonorable attack against one of the symbols of the Mediterranean Diet.”

That claim may also be problematic: the Mediterranean Diet (the caps are AVPN’s) is perhaps the most healthy in the world, but it’s a stretch to credit cheese pie with that distinction. A better symbol might be a fish, or a head of lettuce.

The commercial depicts the boy and his parents at a fancy pizzeria. The waiter asks the kid what kind of pizza he wants, and he yells, “Happy Meal!” The family, apparently powerless under the spell of the boy’s unsophisticated palate, is suddenly transported to a McDonald’s, and all is well because, as the commercial informs Italian parents: “Your child has no doubts.”

This amounts to the “American colossus” that is McDonald’s “discrediting” the whole Italian diet, AVPN explains. And although the campaign is already over, the group might yet file a lawsuit. One pizza chef in Naples told The Telegraph that the commercial amounted to “blasphemy.”

McDonald’s reportedly hasn’t heard directly from the AVPN.

Legal action seems like overkill, but that doesn’t mean McDonald’s didn’t err culturally. Imagine Taco Bell running a commercial in Baton Rouge declaring that its burritos are better than the local gumbo.

The backlash shouldn’t come as a surprise to McDonald’s. If it wasn’t already obvious, Italians, and especially Neapolitans, take their pizza very seriously, and the AVPN is serious about protecting its reputation. The group has created a “certification” program that requires any pizza anywhere in the world calling itself Neapolitan to adhere to a strict set of criteria.

TIME Food

Man Can’t Sue Applebee’s for Burns He Got While Praying Over Fajitas

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2014/10/25: Applebee's restaurant exterior logo. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
John Greim—Getty Images

According to a new court ruling

A New Jersey man who was burned by a plate of hot fajitas while dining at Applebee’s can’t sue the restaurant over his injuries, according to an appellate court.

Hiram Jimenez took the chain restaurant to court because he said his waitress failed to alert him that his meal was hot. After being served, the court ruling says he bowed his head to pray over the crackling plate, and some oil popped and burned his face. Jimenez says he then panicked and knocked the plate in his lap, causing more burns, none of which resulted in scars, according to court records.

He filed suit seeking damages on the grounds that he suffered “serious and permanent” injuries “solely as a result of (Applebee’s) negligence when he came in contact with a dangerous and hazardous condition, specifically, ‘a plate of hot food’.”

A trial judge dismissed the suit, finding Applebee’s had no duty to warn Jimenez “against a danger that is open and obvious” like a sizzling hot plate of fajitas. Jimenez appealed, but an appellate panel confirmed the lower court ruling, saying Applebee’s can’t be held responsible because the hot food posed an a risk that should be “self-evident” and thus “approached with due care.”

[H/T USA Today]

TIME technology

Why This Company Wants to Stop You From Buying an iPhone

SWEDEN-ERICSSON-BUSINESS-LAYOFFS-TELECOMUNICATIONS
Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images Ericsson logo at the Ericsson headquarters in Stockholm's suburb of Kista on November 7, 2012.

A fight between heavyweights

Ericsson AB has asked US regulators to block all domestic sales of Apple products as part of an escalating patent dispute between the two tech giants.

The request came as Ericsson filed seven separate lawsuits against Apple, alleging that Apple’s highly popular devices infringed on upwards of 41 patents, Bloomberg News reports.

Apple suspended royalty payments to Ericsson in January, after the two companies failed to renew an agreement over licensing fees. Apple accused Ericsson of “abusive” pricing that attempted to skim profits off of unrelated innovations. Ericsson has countered that its licensing terms did not “extract more than the value we put on the table.”

Read more at Bloomberg News.

TIME Regulation

Why Wal-Mart and Texas Are Headed for an Epic Showdown

141224_EM_walmart_1
Alamy

Two icons of "real" America are at loggerheads over a surprising issue

No state is more “real America” than Texas. No retailer is more “real America” than Wal-Mart. And no political opinion is more “real America” than “regulation bad.”

So it might come as something of a shock to learn that Wal-Mart stores in Texas are forbidden by law from selling booze—anything other than beer and wine. Wal-Mart is paying trial lawyers to sue the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in the U.S. District Court in Austin, challenging the law that forbids all publicly held corporations, hotels excepted, from selling hooch. The law violates the U.S. Constitution, Wal-Mart argues.

“One class of retailers—public corporations—[is] denied an opportunity to compete in the distilled spirits market, while another class of retailers—private corporations and publicly traded hotel corporations—are allowed to compete without similar restriction,” Wal-Mart argues in the lawsuit. “No other state in the nation allows private corporations to engage in the retail sale of spirits but prohibits some but not all publicly traded companies from doing so.”

And indeed, the distinction does seem odd—”irrational,” as Wal-Mart puts it. But as it turns out, it’s just another instance of one business interest versus another. In the lawsuit, Wal-Mart singles out the Texas Package Stores Association as the lobbying group that has fought hard to keep the law in place. It represents about half of the state’s approximately 2,500 liquor stores.

No retailer in Texas is allowed more than five package-store permits, so any chain that’s any bigger is barred from selling any booze other than beer and wine from its sixth store on up. Except that there’s a loophole. Wal-Mart notes in the lawsuit that families are allowed to “pool their package store permits into a single entity and collectively obtain an unlimited number of package store permits.”

A Wal-Mart spokesperson pointed out to the Dallas Morning News what for many people would be the most obvious argument against the law: “This is counter to Texas’ belief in free enterprise and fair competition, limits our customers’ choice[s] and keeps the price of spirits artificially high, all of which harm Texas consumers.”

TIME Companies

Dov Charney, Bruised Ex-CEO of American Apparel, Down to Last $100,000

American Apparel ousted its CEO, Dov Charney, who has been the target of lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees in Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2014
Ringo Chiu—Zuma Press/Corbis American Apparel ousted its CEO, Dov Charney, who has been the target of lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees in Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2014

From CEO to ... a couch. Times are tough for American Apparel's controversial ex-CEO

Dov Charney, the ousted chief executive of American Apparel, is down to his last $100,000. He is also apparently sleeping on a friend’s couch in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. And he is “suing everyone, by the way,” as a Bloomberg reporter puts it.

Charney tells Bloomberg that he took a loan from hedge fund Standard General to boost his shares in American Apparel on the understanding that the investment firm would help him get back into the company, from which he had been suspended for six months.

But the investment firm hoodwinked him, he claims: Standard General controls Charney’s shares in American Apparel as collateral and added new members to the retailer’s board. That board last week fired Charney, whose blustery reign over American Apparel was marred by piles of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.

Standard General said in an emailed statement that it had “supported the independent, third-party and very thorough investigation into the allegations” against Charney that led to his firing by American Apparel’s board. The firm said its “objective is to help American Apparel grow and succeed.”

Now, this ex-CEO is penniless, in relative terms: American Apparel paid Charney, its founder, an annual salary of $800,000. The clothing purveyor is also worth about $226 million to $243 million.

Still, it’s not all bad news for Charney — he’s been linked with a possible takeover bid.

[Bloomberg]

READ NEXT China’s Xiaomi is Now Worth More Than Uber

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Music

YouTube Faces $1 Billion Lawsuit From Pharrell Williams, the Eagles and Others

Lawyers demand removal of around 20,000 videos

A representative for dozens of music superstars, including Pharrell Williams, is telling YouTube that it had better remove about 20,000 videos or face a $1 billion lawsuit.

Music-business heavyweight Irving Azoff, who founded the new legal group Global Music Rights, has told the video juggernaut that it does not have performance rights to thousands of songs by about 40 of his clients, including the Eagles, Chris Cornell and John Lennon, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Meanwhile Google, which is planning to launch Music Key — its own subscription music service to compete with Spotify and Pandora — has said it does have the rights, prompting concerns of a music-industry showdown.

The threat of a lawsuit against YouTube comes amid a broader debate about the rights of musicians in a freewheeling era of digital access to songs. In December, Consequence of Sound reported that Williams’ megahit, “Happy,” generated just $2,700 for 43 million plays on Pandora.

[THR]

READ NEXT Watch the 10 Best Unaired Saturday Night Live Sketches of 2014

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME lawsuits

U.S. Food Supplier Accused of Falsely Marketing Meat as Halal to Muslims

Wholesale Price Of Beef Rises to New High
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The food supplier has said it will fight the charges, calling them a violation of the separation of church and state

An Iowa-based food supplier is accused of marketing its products as halal to Muslims worldwide, when its meats were in fact not produced in accordance with strict Islamic standards.

Federal prosecutors allege that Midamar Corp. sold about $4.9 million in beef to customers in Malaysia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates under the false pretense that its cattle were slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, the Associated Press reports. The corporation has strongly refuted the allegations and called them a “religious matter” that the U.S. government has no right to regulate.

The lawsuit contends that Midamar told customers that Muslim slaughtermen killed its cattle by hand. Yet Midamar’s primary beef supplier was a Minnesota-based meatpacking plant that uses bolt stunning, which involves shooting a steel-rod through the cow’s brain, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says that Midamar employees would remove the label from the Minnesota-based plant and exchange it for a label from a Nebraska plant where kill practices are certified as halal.

TIME celebrities

Bill Cosby Accuser Tamara Green Files Defamation Lawsuit

Tamara Green, the plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit claiming that she was "sexually assaulted by comedian Bill Cosby in the 1970s" watches by video link from California as her attorney Joseph Cammarata (L) speaks about the suit that they have filed to a news conference in Washington on Dec. 10, 2014.
Jim Bourg—Reuters Tamara Green, the plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit claiming that she was "sexually assaulted by comedian Bill Cosby in the 1970s" watches by video link from California as her attorney Joseph Cammarata (L) speaks about the suit that they have filed to a news conference in Washington on Dec. 10, 2014.

The retired attorney says the comedian damaged her reputation after she accused him of drugging and groping her more than 40 years ago

Tamara Green, a retired California attorney who says Bill Cosby drugged and groped her in 1969 or 1970, filed a defamation lawsuit against the entertainer Wednesday.

In the suit, filed in Springfield, Massachusetts, not far from where Cosby has a home, Green says comments made by Cosby’s representatives to The Washington Post and Newsweek this year “impugned” her reputation and exposed her to “public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace.”

She filed the suit to “restore her good name and reputation” her attorney, Joseph Cammarata, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

“That’s all we’ve got in life at the end of the day,” he says. “It’s the most important thing we have.”

Other women Cosby has made public comments about are welcome to join the lawsuit, he says.

Representatives for Cosby could not immediately be reached for comment, but have repeatedly denied Green’s accusations through the years.

Walter Phillips Jr., one of Cosby’s attorneys, told the Post Cosby didn’t know Green and the allegations were untrue.

A person identified only as Cosby’s publicist, who is named in the court papers as David Brokaw, told Newsweek in February, “This is a 10-year discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.”

Her Lawyer Speaks Out

Because the statute of limitations is one year for defamation, Green is only suing him for those statements to those two publications, Cammarata says.

“She says that because of their pubic branding of her as a liar, it’s called into question her good name and reputation,” Cammarata says.

“At the core of whether or not she’s a liar is if what she says happened, happened,” he says. “If it happened and Bill Cosby said she was a liar, then my client wins. If it’s the other way around, Mr. Cosby wins.”

Green, 66, first came forward in February 2005, after former Temple employee Andrea Constand, 32, went to authorities saying Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion.

Green, who now lives in southern California, recently told PEOPLE coming forward ten years ago had repercussions for her.

“People I knew looked me right in the face and told me they didn’t believe me,” she says. “It’s crushing to be dismissed like that.”

“It has ended some relationships for me,” she says. “When the smoke cleared and the blood dried, I moved to a piece of land that had about an acre between me and the front gate. No bell either.”

“In their opinion, you’re a liar and it doesn’t bother them at all that they have no idea what they’re talking about,” she added.

This article originally appeared on People.com

MONEY groceries

Lawsuit Could Force Upstart Condiment Brand to Hold the ‘Mayo’

141111_EM_JustMayo
Jim Wilson—The New York Times/Redux In a lawsuit, food giant Unilever says that Just Mayo must change its labeling because it is not real mayonnaise.

In a David vs. Goliath battle over sandwich spread labeling, things could get messy.

Unilever, the food giant that owns the Hellmann’s brand of Real Mayonnaise, recently filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek, a well-funded startup backed by the likes of Bill Gates. The upstart company is being accused of false advertising because its sandwich spread brand Just Mayo contains no eggs and is therefore not real mayonnaise.

The Food & Drug Administration stipulates that any product calling itself mayonnaise must contain one or more “egg yolk-containing ingredients,” and Just Mayo is made with yellow peas instead of eggs. The rules also require genuine mayonnaise to be at least 65% vegetable oil—which is why Kraft’s Miracle Whip, which doesn’t meet that standard, is not a mayonnaise and is technically classified as a salad dressing.

Unilever is demanding that Just Mayo change its labels, and it is seeking unspecified compensatory damages. The “harm is impossible to quantify because of the difficulty of measuring lost good will and sales” for Hellmann’s and other mayonnaise makers, the suit states. The suit claims that the “Just Mayo false name” has “caused consumer deception and serious, irreparable harm to Unilever,” and that it’s “part of a larger campaign and pattern of unfair competition by Hampton Creek to falsely promote Just Mayo spread as tasting better than, and being superior to, Best Foods and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.”

On its website, Just Mayo states its spread is “outrageously delicious, better for your body, for your wallet, and for the planet.” In recent months, the product—which is vegan but isn’t marketed overtly as such—has appeared on the shelves of national retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco, and Walmart.

Putting taste aside because that’s a subjective matter, how can Just Mayo label itself mayonnaise when it’s not mayonnaise? Well, actually Just Mayo never says that it is mayonnaise. The product is always referred to as “mayo,” not “mayonnaise.” Hampton Creek maintains that there’s a difference, that it never claimed the product was genuine mayonnaise, and that the lawsuit is the result of Unilever and Hellmann’s feeling threatened in the marketplace. “We’re competing directly with a company that hasn’t had real competition in decades,” Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick told the Wall Street Journal. “These things happen.”

Andrew Zimmern, the celebrity chef and Travel Channel personality who is quoted calling Just Mayo a “must have” on the Hampton Creek website, has created a Change.org petition against Big Mayo, asking others to join his effort to get Unilever to “Stop Bullying Sustainable Food Companies.” The online petition, which urges Unilever to drop the lawsuit and “focus more on creating a better world rather than preventing others from trying to do so,” has already registered more than 15,000 signatures. Look for the movement to spread.

TIME Music

Led Zeppelin Loses First Round in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit

Led Zeppelin File Photos
Chris Walter—WireImage / Getty Images Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant) in 1969.

The British rockers must confront allegations that it ripped off the rock group Spirit

For decades, Led Zeppelin has faced claims that they plagiarized their iconic 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven” from the rock band Spirit. Now it looks like Zeppelin is headed for a difficult legal battle.

Back in May, family members of Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe (a.k.a Randy California) filed the suit against Zeppelin, seeking monetary damages and a writing credit for the now-deceased Wolfe, NBC Philadelphia reports. Wolfe’s family claims that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page ripped off the chords for “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s 1968 tune “Taurus.” (The two bands at one point toured together and had thus become familiar with each other’s music.)

Now, Zeppelin and their music companies have requested that the case be dismissed, as the “individual defendants are British citizens residing in England, own no property in Pennsylvania and have no contacts with Pennsylvania, let alone ties sufficient to render them essentially at home here,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The judge, however, said no to that request — so the band will now be forced to move forward with the suit.

In the meantime, if you’ve never heard the song that Zeppelin allegedly ripped off, listen to it here, followed by “Stairway to Heaven” for comparison’s sake:

Read next: Led Zeppelin Is Getting Sued Over ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com