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Knievel and Kanye jump into mediation

There's hope for peace yet between Evel Knievel and Kanye West.

The legendary daredevil and controversial hip hop star have agreed to go to mediation to settle their feud over one of Mr. West's music videos, which Mr. Knievel claims steals his trademarked image and damages his reputation, the Associated Press reported.

In Mr. West's 2006 video for "Touch the Sky," the 29-year-old rapper presents himself as "Evel Kanyevel," dons a star-studded jumpsuit and attempts to clear a canyon with a rocket-powered vehicle.

Mr. Knievel, 68, claims the vehicle in the video is "visually indistinguishable" from the one he used in his highly publicized attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in 1974. During the jump, one of Mr. Knievel's parachutes opened accidentally, causing too much drag for the vehicle to make it to the other side. Mr. Knievel escaped the incident with only minor injuries. In Mr. West's video, he crashes to the canyon's bottom in a fiery blaze.

Mr. Knievel charges infringement on his trademarked name and likeness. He also thinks the video's "vulgar and offensive" images tarnish his reputation, the AP reported.

Mr. West claims the video is satire and thus protected by First Amendment rights.

Perhaps the two took inspiration from another song of Mr. West's--"Work it Out."

Wellmark drops out of college donation

Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield's foray into higher education seems to be a short-lived one.

The health plan, which pledged $15 million to the University of Iowa's College of Public Health, hoped to brand the college with the Wellmark name.

But after school faculty reportedly refused to rename the school after the insurer, citing a conflict of interest--Wellmark Blues reportedly administers insurance plans for all the state's public universities--the insurer rescinded its offer and withdrew the $15 million gift.

Wellmark Blues is a unit of Des Moines, Iowa-based Wellmark Inc.

Kalamazoo dodges same-sex partner benefit ban

When a court ruled that same-sex partner benefits may not be offered by public employers in Michigan because of the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, the city of Kalamazoo had two options: either discontinue the benefits or find a way around the law.

The Kalamazoo City Commission chose option No. 2 and voted late last month to change the name of its domestic partner benefits to "other qualified adult" program. Now, city-sponsored medical and dental insurance is available to any cohabitating city employee whose significant other is financially dependent on him or her.

Among other criteria, partners must have shared a residence for at least a year and intend to continue sharing the residence, and neither can be married.

The two also must have joint ownership of a bank or credit-card account, residence or vehicle.

The city has allocated $40,000 to fund the new program.

The four employees who had enrolled in coverage under the former domestic partner program are expected to enroll in the new program during a special enrollment period later this month.

Real-life litigation enters virtual world

The virtual reality world of Second Life just got a whole lot more realistic--with litigation and all.

Second Life is an online universe where real people adopt personas called avatars and engage in a variety of activities, including making money by creating and selling digital products and services.

A Lutz, Fla.-based company, Eros L.L.C., created several of what court papers call "adult-themed virtual objects" for use in Second Life. One of these--a sort of virtual bed--goes for $45 in real-life money.

But Eros CEO Kevin Alderman, who's known as Stroker Serpentine in Second Life, was not happy when a denizen of Second Life began selling unauthorized copies of the object for $15. Mr. Alderman claims that the culprit is a real-life person who exists as the avatar Volkov Catteneo in Second Life, and he wants to know who this real-life person is.

So Eros filed a copyright infringement suit in U.S. district court on July 3 against whoever is the real-life Volkov Catteneo.

He also wants Linden Labs, which owns Second Life, to provide him with information about the person who is Volkov Catteneo.

The court will have to determine where the protections of anonymity afforded virtual inhabitants of Second Life are trumped by the legal protections afforded inhabitants of the real world.

No matter how the case is resolved, the matter appears almost guaranteed to open up a whole new--and not necessarily final--frontier of litigation.

Contributing: Mark A. Hofmann, Beth Murtagh, Rupal Parekh, Joanne Wojcik