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Barely dressed is no trade dress Orlando, Fla. (AP)-A federal judge has ruled that a Florida-based sports bar chain did not misappropriate Hooters’ store and dress design by having their waitresses wear outfits similar to the national chain’s uniform of skimpy shorts and T-shirts. Hooters was then ordered to pay $1.2 million in counterclaim damages. U.S. District Judge Anne Conway on Dec. 2 threw out Hooters’ claims before the case went to the jury, finding that “no reasonable juror” could confuse waitresses for Ker’s WingHouse, who are dressed in all-black shorts and tops, with Hooters waitresses, who wear orange shorts and white tops. Atlanta-based Hooters of America Inc. argued that WingHouse President Crawford Ker copied several elements from Hooters and violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Seeking $4 million in lost profits, Hooters cited Ker’s “WingHouse girls,” who also wear skimpy outfits. Attorneys for Hooters contended during the three-week trial that Largo, Fla.-based WingHouse was so similar to their company that customers could confuse the two or assume they were affiliated. Hooters argued the company copied the waitress concept, menu, lights and wooden wall paneling. Hooters’ theme “features an unusual and unique merchandising mix consisting of the use of sex appeal in the dining experience,” the suit said. “This was never about trade dress infringement,” said Ker’s attorney Alan Higbee of Fowler White Boggs Banker. “It was about competition. They wanted to put him out of business.” Hooters’ attorney, Steven Hill of Atlanta, declined to comment. N.Y. lawyer set to plead in bribe case Paul Siminovsky, the key prosecution witness against a former Brooklyn, N.Y., trial judge, Gerald P. Garson, is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge on Dec. 16, according to Noel C. Downey, first deputy chief of the Brooklyn district attorney’s rackets bureau. The misdemeanor plea, which means that Siminovsky’s exposure to jail time is limited to a year, was contemplated as part of his agreement to cooperate in the bribery prosecution of Garson, 72. Garson resigned from the Kings County Supreme Court, effective on Dec. 1. Siminovsky will not be sentenced until all cases connected to the Garson investigation are concluded next year. Siminovsky’s agreement also provides that the prosecution will recommend that he receive no jail time if he cooperates as promised. Orange County, N.Y., Justice Jeffrey G. Berry, who was brought into Brooklyn to handle the case, however, has reportedly expressed doubts about a no-jail sentence. At a court appearance last month, Berry also reportedly told Nissim Elmann, the Brooklyn businessman prosecutors say is at the center of the bribery ring, that the case against him is very strong. Nonetheless, Elmann reportedly told prosecutors that he is going to trial and rejected a plea deal that would have limited his jail time to 2 1/3 to 7 years. At the court appearance on Nov. 15, Berry told Elmann that he could face a sentence as long as 9 1/3 to 28 years if he is convicted at trial. -ALM MBA for C-A-T Harrisburg, Pa. (AP)-An online university that allegedly granted a graduate degree in business to a cat was sued on Dec. 6 for consumer fraud by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Trinity Southern University in Texas, a cellular company and the two brothers who ran them are accused of misappropriating Internet addresses to sell bogus degrees and prescription drugs by e-mail, the lawsuit says. It says investigators paid $299 for a degree for a Colby Nolan-actually a deputy attorney general’s black cat-claiming he had experience that included baby-sitting and retail management.

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