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Intellectual Property

Jun 4, 2012

Intellectual Property – Qui Tam Action – False Patent Marking – Expired Patent — Leahy-Smith America Invents Act – Retroactive – Constitutional – No Vested Interest

Slack v. Bon Aqua International, Inc. Plaintiff’s qui tam complaint alleges that defendants marked certain products and related product packaging with expired (but previously valid) patents in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 292(a). However, during the pendency of this action, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act became law, and § 292(c) now states, “The marking of a product … with matte[...]

May 23, 2012

Labor & Employment – Intellectual Property – Patent — Employee’s Inventions – Wage & Hour Act – REDA – Liquidated Damages – Attorney’s Fees

Morris v. Scenera Research, LLC Defendants acted in good faith and with a reasonable belief that they were not in violation of the Wage and Hour Act when they refused to pay plaintiff bonuses for patents which had not issued yet at the time plaintiff’s employment ended. However, since defendants never reduced to writing – until shortly before plaintiff’s employment ended – a chang[...]

May 14, 2012

Intellectual Property – Trade Dress Infringement – Cookware – Unfair Trade Practices – Treble Damages

Belk Inc. v. Meyer Corp. Meyer, a manufacturer of “Anolon Advanced” cookware, wins its suit alleging trade dress infringement and violation of North Carolina unfair trade practices law against defendant Belk department store, which sold a private-label cookware that was “deceptively similar”; the 4th Circuit upholds a $1.26 million damage award for plaintiff.

Apr 26, 2012

Intellectual Property – Trademark Infringement – Civil Practice – Res Judicata & Collateral Estoppel

Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP v. Von Drehle Corp. Plaintiff has filed a number of suits around the country alleging that defendant or its distributors infringed plaintiff’s trademark when they sold paper towels designed to fit into plaintiff’s enMotion paper towel dispensers. Plaintiff’s claim in this case is precluded by decisions in other courts that defendant’s actions d[...]

Apr 12, 2012

Intellectual Property – Trademark – Advertising – Direct & Contributory Infringement & Dilution Claims – Vicarious Infringement & Unjust Enrichment

Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google Inc. In language-learning company Rosetta Stone’s trademark infringement suit against Google over use of the Rosetta Stone mark in Google’s online advertising platform, the 4th Circuit vacates summary judgment for Google on plaintiff’s claims for direct infringement, contributory infringement and dilution of plaintiff’s mark, but upholds summary judgme[...]

Mar 19, 2012

Corporate – Merger – Civil Practice – Pleadings Amendment – Relation Back – Real Party in Interest – Intellectual Property – Patent Application – Tort/Negligence – Attorneys – Legal Malpractice

Revolutionary Concepts, Inc. v. Clements Walker PLLC Although an inventor had assigned his patent rights to a Nevada corporation, a North Carolina corporation hired the defendant-law firm to apply for the patents. The Nevada corporation filed this action to assert its rights as assignee. Subsequently, the two corporations merged, with the Nevada corporation being the surviving entity. The[...]

Mar 14, 2012

Intellectual Property – Trademark Infringement – Radio Farm News – Other Uses – Laches Defense

Ray Communications Inc. v. Clear Channel Communications Inc. Although plaintiff communications company, which registered the Agrinet service mark in 1972 and has used it for radio broadcast of farm news, acknowledges it permitted certain uses of the Agrinet mark in some local markets by predecessors of defendant Clear Channel Inc., the district court erred in granting defendant summary ju[...]

Jan 13, 2012

Intellectual Property – Copyright & Trademark Infringement – Civil Practice – Collateral Estoppel – Corporate Judgment – Officer’s Individual Liability

Universal Furniture International, Inc. v. Frankel In a lawsuit against one of only two officers and part owner of Collezione Europa USA, Inc., the defendant is collaterally estopped from denying Collezione’s infringements of plaintiff’s copyright and trademark, which were established in a separate lawsuit. Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is granted as to the issue of co[...]

Jan 13, 2012

Constitutional – Preemption – Ethanol Blending Statute – Federal Renewable Fuel Program – Intellectual Property – Lanham Act – PMPA – Commerce Clause

American Petroleum Institute v. Cooper North Carolina’s Ethanol Blending Statute – which allows gasoline marketers in our state to participate in the blending of ethanol and gasoline (and the tax credits that go along with such blending) – does not conflict with and is not preempted by the Federal Renewable Fuel Program, the Lanham Act, or the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, nor [...]

Jan 12, 2012

Intellectual Property – Patent Infringement Claim – Insecticide Application — ‘Comprising’ Phrase – Disclaimed Method

BASF Agro B.V. v. Makhteshim Agan of North America, Inc. The use of the word “comprising” as a transitional phrase in the patents at issue creates a presumption that the patents’ claims are open-ended. However, the inventor specifically disclaimed the prior-art “barrier” method of insecticide application. Therefore, the inventor rebutted the presumption that the claims of his pa[...]

Jan 11, 2012

Civil Practice – Personal Jurisdiction – Collateral Estoppel — German Companies – Intellectual Property – U.S. & European Patents

Steag Energy Services GmbH v. Ebinger Plaintiff’s addition of a slander of title claim and some new evidence is not enough to allow the court to reconsider a prior decision of the N.C. Court of Appeals, which held that N.C. courts lack personal jurisdiction over the German defendants. Defendants’ motion to dismiss is granted.

Jan 11, 2012

Intellectual Property – Labor & Employment – Inventor/Employee – Patent Ownership – Compensation Contract – Termination – REDA Claim

Morris v. Scenera Research, LLC Plaintiff’s own words reveal that the defendant-employer hired him to invent; however, there are genuine issues of fact as to whether there was a clear agreement about the assignment of patents and as to the compensation due to plaintiff for patent assignments he made in 2008.

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