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Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

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

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 does the Ethanol Blending Statute violate the Commerce Clause. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted.

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Intellectual Property – Patent Infringement Claim – Insecticide Application — ‘Comprising’ Phrase – Disclaimed Method (access required)

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 patents can include the barrier method.

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

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.

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

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

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. Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment is denied. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted only as to the question of whether plaintiff was hired to invent, plaintiff’s fraudulent inducement claim, and plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim.

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Intellectual Property – Patent – Sale Contract – Construction of Terms – Tort/Negligence – Fraud (access required)

Shamoon v. Turkow In the contract pursuant to which defendants invested in plaintiffs’ invention, the first sentence provides that defendants receive one-half percent ownership in the invention in exchange for $60,000. The second sentence says that the above grant of ownership entitles defendants to one-half percent of all proceeds from the sale of the invention. Since the second sentence can be construed as either a limitation on defendants’ ownership interest (to sale proceeds only) or a description of just one of several incidents of ownership, the contract is ambiguous.

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Intellectual Property – Trademark Dispute – Civil Practice – Interpleader – Infringer’s Lender (access required)

Variety Wholesalers, Inc. v. Prime Apparel, LLC In this interpleader action, plaintiff placed with the clerk of court the amount plaintiff had agreed to pay to defendant Prime Apparel, LLC for clothing bearing the “Newport Bay” trademark. Since the trial court ruled that Prime Apparel had violated defendant Quick Response Marketing, Inc.’s trademark when Prime Apparel sold “Newport Bay” clothing to plaintiff, Prime Apparel had no right to the goods sold to plaintiff nor to the money generated from the sale of those goods. Prime Apparel had no right and no accounts receivable it could pass on to the defendant-lender through their prior agreement; thus, the lender had no security interest in the funds interpleaded by plaintiff.

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Civil Practice – Personal Jurisdiction – Intellectual Property – Trademark – Website Domain Names (access required)

Capitol Commission, Inc. v. Capitol Ministries Plaintiff alleges that defendant has filed an intent-to-use trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the name “Capitol Commission” and that defendant has purchased a number of internet domain names incorporating the “Capitol Commission” mark or other confusingly similar marks. Since plaintiff’s claims arise out of the parties’ former relationship in North Carolina, this court has personal jurisdiction over the California defendant. Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is denied.

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Tort/Negligence – Unfair Trade Practices Counterclaim – Objectively Reasonable Lawsuit – Contract – Settlement Agreement – Intellectual Property – Trademark (access required)

Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Where plaintiffs’ claims that defendant breached the parties’ settlement agreement are objectively reasonable, plaintiffs’ subjective intent in bringing the lawsuit is irrelevant. Defendant’s counterclaim that plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in order to stifle competition does not state a claim for unfair trade practices. The court grants plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss defendant’s unfair trade practices counterclaim. Plaintiffs’ motion to strike is granted as to defendant’s demands for punitive and treble damages. Plaintiffs’ motion to strike is denied as to defendant’s request for attorney’s fees.

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Intellectual Property – Trade Secrets Misappropriation Claim – Disclosure – Patents – Different Fields – Breach of Contract – Confidentiality — Tort/Negligence (access required)

SCR-Tech LLC v. Evonik Energy Services LLC Plaintiff and others have published the general steps involved in plaintiff’s process for cleaning and regenerating the catalysts used by coal plants to remove harmful constituents from their exhaust; therefore, the general steps are not trade secrets. However, there are questions of fact as to whether some of the specific steps in plaintiff’s process have been publicly disclosed, independently developed, or wrongfully misappropriated by defendant from plaintiff’s former employees. Defendants are granted summary judgment as to the general steps in plaintiff’s process. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is otherwise denied.

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