The Northern District of Illinois has a critical number of vacancies. Judge St. Eve just left for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Zagel took senior status in October 2016. Judge Zagel took senior status in March 2017 and passed away shortly thereafter. Judge Der-Yeghiayan retired in February 2018. Senior Judge Shadur (who maintained a very full … Continue Reading
Judge Der-Yeghiayan has retired effective February 17, 2018 after serving fourteen years. Judge Der-Yeghiayan was the American success story. He was the first Armenian immigrant to be appointed to the federal bench. He served the Northern District ably for fourteen years, capping a career of public service with the INS. Thank you for your service … Continue Reading
Kroto Inc. v. Chapa, No. 17 C 1218, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 22, 2017) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.). Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted declaratory judgment defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, but denied their sanctions motion in this copyright dispute. Declaratory judgment plaintiff Kroto’s jurisdictional allegation revolved around defendants’ copyright … Continue Reading
Kroto Inc. v. Chapa, No. 17 C 1218, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 22, 2017) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.). Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, but denied defendants’ motion for sanctions in this declaratory judgment copyright case. The only link plaintiff Kroto established between defendants and Illinois was the sending of … Continue Reading
Coach, Inc. v. Di Da Import & Export, Inc. (d/b/a Di Da New York), No. 13 C 7165, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 15, 2015) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.). Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted in part defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) & (5) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service of process in this … Continue Reading
Bodum USA, Inc. v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc., No. 16 C 981, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 3, 2016) (Kendall, J.). Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendant Williams-Sonoma’s 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) motion to transfer the Lanham Act case to the Northern District of California. The Court held as follows: Both the Northern District of California and the Northern … Continue Reading
SMP Logic Sys., LLC v. Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc., No. 11 C 5075, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 26, 2012) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.). Judge Der-Yeghiayan transferred this patent case involving pharmaceutical methods to the Eastern District of New York, for the following reasons: While the Court gave plaintiff SMP’s choice of forum deference, less is given … Continue Reading
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendant Aksoy's motion to dismiss in this Lanham Act case regarding the CHICAGO TROLLEY mark for use with Chicago Trolley Tours. An individual acting as a corporate officer - such as Aksoy - generally cannot be held individually liable. In the case of trademark and copyrights claims, however, an officer can be held personally liable where the officer was personally involved or aware. And plaintiff TRT Transportation sufficiently pled that involvement.
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Arcadia Group Brands Ltd. v. Studio Moderna SA, No. 10 C 7790, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2011) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted plaintiffs' (collectively "Arcadia") motion to dismiss defendants' (collectively "Moderna") counterclaims and denied Moderna's motion to dismiss Arcadia's claims in this Lanham Act case involving Arcadia's TOPSHOP and Moderna's TOP SHOP TV marks. In 2004, the parties entered a settlement agreement (the "Agreement") pursuant to which Moderna agreed not to use TOPSHOP to sell women's clothing in any country. Arcadia alleged that Moderna violated the Agreement beginning in 2010 when it began selling women's clothing in the US on Moderna's topshoptv.com website.
Moderna argued that Arcadia did not plausibly plead a protectable mark because Moderna was the first user of the mark. But a motion to dismiss must assume the truth of Arcadia's allegations and Arcadia plausibly pled that it was the first user of the mark. Additionally, Moderna's arguments ignored that Arcadia's complaint challenged the validity of Moderna's TOPSHELF TV registration.
Arcadia sufficiently pled fame as part of its trademark dilution claim. While Arcadia did not parrot the language of the statute, it pled its TOPSHOP brands were "world famous", that the brand is one of the most successful in the world, that there have been millions of dollars in US sales and that the brand is regularly featured in US and international fashion and celebrity magazines and other media.
The Court dismissed Moderna's counterclaim for a declaratory judgment that it was the senior user of its TOP SHOP TV mark. Arcadia, however, had never challenged Moderna's TOP SHOP TV mark. Arcadia's only claims, in the suit or otherwise, were with respect to its TOPSHOP mark. As a result, any decision regarding the mark would be an impermissible advisory opinion.
The Court dismissed Moderna's trademark misuse counterclaim because Moderna did not show that trademark misuse was an affirmative cause of action. Moderna was, however, allowed to amend its answer to add an affirmative defense of trademark misuse.
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Patent Compliance Group, Inc. v. Brunswick Corp., No. 10 C 4645, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 14, 2010) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiyan denied defendant Brunswick's Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Patent Compliance Group's ("PCG") false patent marking claims regarding Brunswick's exercise equipment. First, the Court held that Rule 9(b) heightened pleadings applied to the intent to deceive requirement of false patent marking, and anologized to the Federal Circuit's inequitable conduct pleading requirements. While PCG's first complaint alleging that Brunswick was a sophisticated company, PCG's amended complaint attaching Patent Office documents identifying the expiration dates of the allegedly expired patents and identifying Brunswick's in-house patent counsel was sufficient.
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Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC, No. 08 C 2855, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 8, 2010) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendant Grace Hotel's motion for costs and denied without prejudice Grace Hotel's motion for attorney's fees. As an initial matter, the Court held that Grace Hotels was a prevailing party pursuant to both Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) (costs) and 17 U.S.C. § 505 (attorney's fees). While the standards were different, Grace Hotels met both standards. Grace Hotels was granted summary judgment on plaintiff's copyright infringement claim because plaintiffs did not have a valid copyright registration - click here for more on this opinion in the Blog's archives. While the decision was jurisdictional and not substantive, Grace Hotel was a prevailing party because the Court's ruling "effectively foreclosed" Plaintiff's copyright claims. In other words, "Grace [Hotels] obtained more than just a moral victory on a minor jurisdictional point." Because Grace Hotels was a prevailing party, the Court awarded the reasonable costs Grace Hotels requested for court reporter fees pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) - $2,534.70.
While Grace Hotels was also a prevailing party for purposes of § 505, the Court denied Grace Hotels attorney's fees motion without prejudice. The fees did not appear reasonable. They were not limited to fees associated with defending the copyright claim. Grace Hotels was not entitled to fees for defending related state law claims which the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over after resolving the federal copyright claim. Grace Hotels also sought fees for a separate case between the parties. The Court allowed Grace Hotels to file a renewal motion for attorney's fees tailored to the recoverable fees.
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Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC, No. 08 C 2855, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 26, 2010) (Der-Yeghiayan).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendant summary judgment as to plaintiffs' copyright infringement claims, and refused to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims. Plaintiffs had a registered copyright, which was prima facie evidence of registration. But the Court held the registration was invalid because it was not accompanied by original deposit materials.
Plaintiffs were robbed prior to filing for their copyright. The original building diagrams were taken at that time. So, in order for plaintiffs to get copyright protection, plaintiff prepared a reconstruction of the deposit materials - blueprints in this case. The fact that the deposit material was a close approximation of the originals was not enough. Furthermore, manual reconstruction without reference to the original was also not sufficient. Having denied plaintiffs' federal claims, the court exercised its discretion to refuse supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.
* Click here for much more on the case in the Blog's archives.
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Valley Entertainment, Inc. v. Friesen, No. 08 C 3470, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 17, 2010) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendants summary judgment of noninfringement regarding plaintiff Valley Entertainment's ("Valley") copyright infringement claim regarding certain songs by the artist Raphael. The Court also granted defendants' motion to strike Valley's newly identified copyright, SR 107-850. Finally, the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Valley's remaining state law claims. Valley's asserted copyright covered only words and arrangement of sheet music, but defendants' alleged infringement was based upon the use of sound recordings of the songs at issue. Valley did not challenge this analysis, instead identifying a new copyright, SR 107-850, that covers sound recordings. But the Court struck that copyright because it was not identified until briefing of the summary judgment motion. The copyright was not identified in Valley's complaint or in any of Valley's numerous discovery responses as a basis for Valley's copyright infringement claims. The Court noted that Valley was no longer free to update its discovery pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a) because the update would no longer be timely.
Having resolved Valley's federal claims, the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Valley's related state law claims.
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Mindy's Restaurant, Inc. v. Watters, No. 08 C 5448, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 9, 2009) (Der-Yeghiayan).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendants' Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction even though plaintiff brought a federal Lanham Act trademark infringement claim. While Lanham Act claims are generally considered federal questions creating subject matter jurisdiction, plaintiffs claims were in essence breach of contract claims. Plaintiff was a franchisor of Mindy's Restaurants. Defendants were franchisees, until they allegedly stopped making required franchise payments and plaintiff terminated the franchise agreement. While plaintiff's claims were for use of plaintiff's trademarks when defendants allegedly continued operating their restaurant after the franchise agreement was canceled. As a result, the Court held that the parties dispute and plaintiff's claims sounded in contract, not the Lanham Act. The reason the trademarks were allegedly infringed was the termination of the franchise agreement.
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Americash Loans, LLC v. AO Ventures, LLC, No. 08 C 5147 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 19, 2009) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendant AO Ventures ("AOV") motion to dismiss plaintiff Americash Loans' Lanham Act and related state law claims. Americash Loans alleged that AOV infringed Americash Loans' "Americash Loans" mark by advertising confusingly similar mark on AOV's website. First, the Court held that Americash Loans' prior settlement of a trademark dispute with a third party did not preclude this suit. The prior suit involved a different mark, "Americash," and Americash Loans did not allege that AOV was acting as an agent of the third party involved in the earlier settlement when it allegedly used the infringing marks.
The Court also held that the fact that AOV was not accused of using the exact mark, but a confusingly similar mark was not grounds to dismiss the complaint. The Court noted that customer confusion between similar marks was a recognized part of trademark infringement analysis and that suits were routinely filed alleging infringement based upon the use of marks that were not identical to the asserted trademark.
Further, the Court held that whether AOV's display of a third party's advertisement was a use of the accused mark was a question of fact that could not be resolved by a Rule 12 motion. Finally, the Court held that it could not decide whether AOV's alleged infringement was a nominative fair use of Americash Loans' mark because any fair use analysis involves questions of fact.
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Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC., No. 08 C 2855, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2009) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss defendants' counterclaim copyright infringement case. Plaintiffs claimed that they developed plans for a Holiday Inn Express hotel defendants planned to build, and that defendants infringed the copyrights in plaintiffs' plans by revising them with another firm and using them without plaintiffs' permission. The Court previously held that plaintiffs' copyright claim was sufficiently pled -- click here for more on that opinion and the case generally in the Blog's archives. After that opinion, defendants answered the complaint and filed a counterclaim seeking among other things declaratory relief. The Court dismissed the counterclaim as to plaintiff Annex whom defendants agreed should be dismissed. And the Court struck defendants' request that plaintiffs' complaint be struck because the Court already denied defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
But the Court denied to dismiss defendants' counterclaim. Plaintiffs argued that the counterclaim should be dismissed because it was not clearly pled, the legal basis was not specifically identified and it lacked factual detail. But the Court held that notice pleading did not require good grammar or organization, nor were specific facts required. Because defendants' counterclaim put plaintiffs on notice that their copyright was allegedly a derivative works to which defendants maintained certain rights. To the extent plaintiffs believed additional information, the appropriate remedy was a Rule 12(e) motion for a more definite statement. But the Court noted that a more definite statement was not required in this case because defendants' counterclaim put plaintiffs on notice.
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Mindy's Restaurant, Inc. v. Watters, No. 08 C 5448, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2009) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendant's motion to disqualify plaintiff's counsel in this Lanham Act dispute regarding plaintiff's Mindy's Restaurant marks. Defendant previously was a licensee of plaintiff's marks. During their licensing arrangement, the parties explored a potential joint venture. As part of that process, plaintiff and defendant jointly met with a member of plaintiff's current law firm. Defendant contended that that meeting created an attorney-client relationship which disqualified plaintiff's counsel from this case. But the Court held that even if the single meeting with both parties created an attorney-client relationship, there was only a "slight tangential relationship" between the current case and the prior potential joint venture. And the attorney involved could not have received confidential information. The attorney met with both parties together and never spoke to either party about the matter after the initial meeting. So any information defendant provided to the attorney was also provided to plaintiff. Finally, there was no evidence that the attorney or any member of plaintiff's counsel's firm would ever be called as an essential witness in the case.
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Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC., No. 08 C 2855, 2008 WL 4450305 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 30, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' copyright infringement and related state law claims. Plaintiffs claimed that they developed plans for a Holiday Inn Express hotel defendants planned to build, and that defendants infringed the copyrights in plaintiffs' plans by revising them with another firm and using them without plaintiffs' permission. The Court held that plaintiffs' copyright claim was sufficiently pled. Plaintiffs alleged ownership of a copyright, attaching the copyright registration, and that defendants infringed the copyright. Defendants' argument that plaintiffs' plan were a derivative work were beyond the pleadings and, therefore, not appropriate for a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion.
Similarly, defendants' argument that plaintiffs, as authors of a derivative work, lacked standing to bring their copyright suit also was beyond the scope of a Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. Furthermore, it was not ripe for decision because defendants made the argument for the first time on reply.
The Court also held that defendants' arguments as to plaintiffs' state law claims were beyond the complaint and, therefore, not sufficient for a motion to dismiss.
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The Seventh Circuit instituted a Commission to study the implementation of the ABA Jury Project. The Northern District was heavily represented on the Commission. The following Northern District Judges were members of the Commission: Bucklo, Brown, Coar, Darrah, Denlow, Der-Yeghiayan, Gottschall, Holderman, Kennelly, Lefkow, Moran, Schenkier, St. Eve, and Zagel. The Commission recently published its report -- click here to read it. The report describes a two phase analysis. In the first phase, district judges tested the following seven ABA Principles:
1. Twelve-Person Juries;
2. Jury Selection Questionnaires;
3. Preliminary Substantive Jury Instructions;
4. Trial Time Limits;
5. Juror Questions;
6. Interim Trial Statements by Counsel; and
7. Enhanced Jury Deliberations.
Other Principles, such as juror notebooks and allowing jurors to take notes, were already in such widespread use that they were not tested. Click here for the Phase One Project manual detailing the principles, the rationales and authority behind them, and suggested procedures. Phase One resulted in questionnaires from 22 participating federal trial judges, 74 participating attorneys and 303 jurors from 38 trials that used one or more of the seven Principles. Based upon the analysis of Phase One results and questionnaires, the Commission focused Phase Two on the following four Principles:
1. Juror Questions;
2. Interim Trial Statements by Counsel;
3. Twelve-Person Juries; and
4. Preliminary Substantive Jury Instructions.
These Principles were chosen because of Phase One popularity (78% of jurors reported that being able to ask questions increased their satisfaction with the process) and because of a desire to study the Principles more. Click here for the Phase Two manual.
In Phase Two, 108 jurors from 12 trials employing one or more of the Phase Two Principles filled out questionnaires. In addition, 12 attorneys and 4 district judges that participated also filled out questionnaires. The results are interesting, but more importantly create the opportunity to powerfully impact the trial system across the Seventh Circuit in ways that benefit all of the stakeholders in the trial process -- the litigants, the jurors, the judge and the judge's chambers, and the litigators.
All four of the Phase Two Principles showed significant benefits to the trial process. 83% of jurors reported an increased understanding of the facts when allowed to ask written questions through a judge -- the questions were reworded to meet evidentiary rules. And 75% of judges and 65% of attorneys thought the questions benefited jurors. Similarly, preliminary substantive jury instructions were found to improve trials by jurors (80%), judges (85%) and attorneys (70%). And the same was true for interim statements to the jury -- jurors (80%) and judges (85%). Finally, twelve-person juries were found not to harm efficiency, while increasing juror diversity.
Each of the four Phase Two Principles, as well as several of the additional three Phase One Principles deserve more attention and analysis. So, over the next several weeks I will provide follow up posts discussing the findings of those Principles in greater detail. I will start with the idea of juror questions, which I find particularly important, later this week or early next.
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Personified, LLC v. Sales Consultants of Cary, LLC, No. 08 C 3123, 2008 WL 3200842 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 8, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.)
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted declaratory judgment ("DJ") defendant Sales Consultants of Cary's ("SCC") Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss DJ plaintiff Personified's trademark case in favor of SCC's later-filed District of North Carolina action. Shortly after its parent registered the trademark "Personified," Personified began using the name and allegedly received a cease and desist letter from SCC who offered staffing services using the name "Personified." SCC's letter allegedly demanded that Personified immediately change its name and pay SCC damages. In response, Personified filed this suit seeking a declaratory judgment that it had not violated trademark laws or engaged in unfair competition. SCC countersued in the District of North Carolina several days later.
The Court had federal question jurisdiction because of the Lanham Act issues. Personified was the first to file, but the Court noted that the Seventh Circuit did not strictly follow the first-to-file rule. And the Court exercised its "wide discretion," declining to exercise jurisdiction over the declaratory action. SCC was the natural plaintiff. Instead of filing suit after receiving the cease and desist letter, Personified could have gone to SCC to resolve the dispute. Additionally, Personified was already preparing a motion to transfer the North Carolina action to the Northern District. The Court also denied a motion to stay its ruling pending a decision by the District of North Carolina. If the North Carolina Court transferred the case to the Northern District, Personified would not face substantial hardship by having to replead its DJ claim.
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Nilssen v. MagneTek, Inc., No. 05 C 2933, 2008 WL 1774984 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 16, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan confirmed an arbitration award and denied plaintiff's motion to vacate it. The arbitrator awarded plaintiffs (collectively "Nilssen") approximately $23M for defendant Magnetek's patent infringement. MagneTek argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction because the arbitration agreement did not expressly confer the right to confirm the arbitration award. But the Court held that the Seventh Circuit only required that the right to confirm be inferred from the arbitration agreement. While the arbitration agreement did not explicitly allow confirmation, the parties evidenced their intent to allow confirmation:
The parties' American Arbitration Association ("AAA") submission provided for confirmation;
The parties agreed to be bound by the AAA's Commercial Arbitration Rules which provide for court confirmation; and
MagneTek's post-arbitration press release said that the parties conducted binding arbitration which was not subject to appeal.
MagneTek also argued that certain prior art patents were new evidence which required vacating the award. But the Court held that MagneTek was aware of the patents during the arbitration. In fact, at least one patent was marked as an exhibit in the arbitration. Furthermore, MagneTek's post-arbitration prior art search could have been performed before the arbitration. And the Court would not reward MagneTek's late search with a second shot at invalidity.
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In addition to the new regional IP blogs, here are several new legal resources:
* Startup guru Guy Kawasaki has started the Alltop project which categorizes blogs by subject matter and aggregates blog content for each subject on a single page. The law Alltop site is excellent, although I would suggest adding the Chicago IP Litigation Blog. It is like having someone else set up and update feed readers for you. This is how Alltop describes itself:
We help you explore your passions by collecting stories from "all the top" sites on the web. We've grouped these collections -- "aggregations" -- into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, celebrity gossip, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, we display the latest five stories from thirty or more sites on a single page -- we call this "single-page aggregation."
* The Patent Appeal Tracer follows patent cases from filing of a Federal Circuit appeal, after many of the regional IP blogs stop following them, until an opinion issues, when Patently-O and others take over. It is an interesting idea and a well written blog. As an example of what they do, check out this recent post on the Federal Circuit appeal of Northern District case Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container, Inc. v. Limited Brands, Inc., No. 05 C 3684 (N.D. Ill.) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.) -- click here or here for coverage of the case in the Blog's archives.
[UPDATE]: The Chicago IP Litigation Blog has been added to Alltop's law page. Thanks Guy. Now, if I could just get Kawasakied.
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