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Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

Attorneys – Civil Practice – Discovery – Deposition – Corporate Counsel – Intellectual Property — Patent (access required)

Buyer’s Direct Inc. v. Belk, Inc. Documents produced in discovery show that defendants’ in-house counsel has direct personal knowledge of non-privileged facts relating to another lawsuit in which defendants were accused of infringing on their suppliers’ designs and manufacturing products based on such designs under their own private label. Plaintiff seeks to depose defendants’ in-house counsel as a fact witness, and defendants have not shown that such a deposition would be overly disruptive or burdensome to defendant.

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Intellectual Property – Copyright Infringement – Predicate Act Doctrine – Civil Practice – Personal Jurisdiction – Tort/Negligence — Conversion (access required)

Tire Engineering & Distribution LLC v. Shandong Linglong Rubber Co. Ltd. The 4th Circuit upholds a $26 million verdict for a Florida-based designer and distributor of underground mining tires; the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over a company domiciled in the United Arab Emirates and a Chinese manufacturer who conspired in Virginia with a former employee of plaintiff to manufacture tires from plaintiff’s blueprints, and defendants are not entitled to a new trial on damages even though the appellate court threw out some of plaintiff’s claims.

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

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 matter relating to a patent that covered that product but has expired is not a violation of this section.” Moreover, the Act applies retroactively to cases pending on the date of the Act’s enactment.

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

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 change in plaintiff’s wages, defendants have not shown that they acted in good faith or reasonably believed they were not in violation of the Act when they refused to pay plaintiff bonuses for patents which had already issued. Accordingly, plaintiff is entitled to liquidated damages equal to bonuses that he should have received for patents that had already issued when his employment ended.

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Intellectual Property – Trade Dress Infringement – Cookware – Unfair Trade Practices – Treble Damages (access required)

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.

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Intellectual Property – Trademark Infringement – Civil Practice – Res Judicata & Collateral Estoppel (access required)

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 did not infringe plaintiff’s trademark.

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Intellectual Property – Trademark – Advertising – Direct & Contributory Infringement & Dilution Claims – Vicarious Infringement & Unjust Enrichment (access required)

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 judgment for Google on claims of vicarious infringement and unjust enrichment under Virginia law.

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

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 Nevada corporation did not file a professional negligence action within the statute of limitations, and an amendment to its pleadings now would not relate back to the filing of this action.

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Intellectual Property – Trademark Infringement – Radio Farm News – Other Uses – Laches Defense (access required)

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 judgment on the ground of laches to plaintiff’s trademark infringement suit.

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

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 collateral estoppel on the question of defendant’s liability. The motion is denied as to the issue of collateral estoppel on the question of damages.

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