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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Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container, Inc. v. Limited Brands, Inc., No. 05 C 3684, 2008 WL 839993 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 27, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants' (collectively "Limited Brands") motion for reconsideration regarding the Court's claim construction opinion and its summary judgment opinions of infringement, validity and damages - click here to read more about those opinions in the Blog's archives. The Court previously construed the claims of plaintiff Ball Aerosol's ("BASC") patent covers a candle tine. The Court granted BASC summary judgment of infringement and validity, pre-KSR. When KSR revised the obviousness standard, the Court sua sponte ordered supplemental briefing regarding obviousness in light of KSR. Based upon that briefing, the Court again granted summary judgment of validity. The Court then granted BASC summary judgment on damages awarding it 20% royalties and finding Limited Brand's infringement willful.
The Court held that its original claim construction, validity and infringement holdings were correct and that Limited Brands had been given ample opportunities to defend itself. The Court also denied Limited Brands' argument that reasonable royalties could not be decided on summary judgment. Limited Brands' Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial regarding damages had not been violated. There is no right to a jury without a material question of fact.
The Court also held that while its initial grant of summary judgment of willfulness was made before the Federal Circuits' decision In Re Seagate, the undisputed facts also warranted summary judgment of willfulness pursuant to Seagate's objective recklessness standard. Limited Brands was aware of BASC's patent both before the suit was filed and before it began making the infringing candle tin. In fact, Limited Brands had extensive discussions with BASC regarding BASC's specifications for candle tins. Furthermore, Limited Brand's main defense - advice of counsel - was negated because Limited Brands did not disclose its opinion by the Court's deadline for doing so.
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Single Source, Inc. v. Harvey, No. 07 C 1201, 2008 WL 927902 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 7, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants' summary judgment motion. Defendant Harvey was employed by plaintiff Single Source ("SS") as, among other things, its Sales Director. When Harvey was promoted to the Sales Director position he signed a confidentiality agreement which required that Harvey maintain the secrecy of SS's trade secrets and only use them for SS's benefit. SS alleged that Harvey became disgruntled and took a position with defendant Food Marketing Concepts ("FMC"). Before giving SS notice and leaving SS's employ, Harvey allegedly solicited SS's customers for FMC and used an SS expense account to pursue customers for FMC. Defendants argued that because Harvey was not an SS officer or director he did not owe SS a duty of loyalty. The Court, however, held that an employee owes it employer a duty not to compete with the employer or solicit the employer's customers before terminating the employment. The Court also held that the parties' competing evidence regarding whether Harvey had actually solicited SS's customers prior to ending his employment with SS created a material question of fact.
Practice Tip: You must respond to Local Rule 56.1 statements of material facts. The Court noted that defendants did not respond to SS's statement of additional facts. Because of that, the Court deemed each additional material fact admitted. The Court did not identify whether its decision turned on any of these admitted facts, but it is easy to imagine the circumstance in which the case could have turned on an inadvertently admitted fact.
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Blawg Review #155 is up at the California Blog of Appeal.
Also, the excellent Las Vegas Trademark Attorney has a detailed post -- click here for the post -- about the Roscoe's v. Rosscoe's Chicago chicken and waffle restaurant trademark suit that I posted about last week -- click here for the post.
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The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a trademark suit between well-known Southern California chain Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles ("Roscoe's") against new Chicago restaurant Rosscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles ("Rosscoe's Chicago") was at least partially resolved the day after it was filed when Rosscoe'sChicago agreed to change its name to Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles.
The restaurants had no affiliation with each other, but had numerous similarities, beyond just the names:
Both use a cartoon chicken and a waffle as logos; and
Both have drinks called "Sun Rise" and "Sunset".
Those involved in an early hearing yesterday appeared to have a sense of humor about the dispute. After the hearing, Rosscoe's Chicago's owner Darnell Johnson was quoted as saying "I'm happy as a chicken eating waffles." And during the hearing, Judge Der-Yeghiayan summed up the case's status this way: "I see that both parties understand the issues and facts of life and none of the parties are waffling on the issue." Roscoe's, however, did state that it intended to pursue damages for the period before Rosscoe's Chicago's name change.
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Strom v. Strom Closures, Inc., No. 06 C 7051, 2008 WL 489363 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 20, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted plaintiff Victoria Strom's ("Strom") motion to dismiss defendants' (collectively "SCI") counterclaims. SCI filed an earlier suit charging Strom with patent infringement. The parties settled that suit pursuant to a Settlement Agreement ("Agreement"). SCI alleged that Strom breached the Agreement and was once again, therefore, infringing SCI's patents. But the Court held that once a district court dismisses a case with prejudice, it cannot reopen the case for enforcement of a related agreement without independent jurisdiction. SCI's appropriate claim was for breach of the Agreement, not patent infringement. Because breach of the Agreement was a state law claim and because there was no diversity (SCI pled that all parties were Illinois residents), the Court lacked jurisdiction. Finally, the Court held that there was not supplemental jurisdiction based upon Strom's federal employment claims. Strom's claims and the breach of the Agreement were not sufficiently related.
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ExcelStor Tech., Inc. v. Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG, No. 07 C 2467, 2007 WL 3145013 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 24, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted defendant Papst Licensing's ("Papst") Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs, various related ExcelStor Technology entities (collectively "ExcelStor") licensed Papst's patent portfolio (the "Agreement") related to hard disk drives ("HDD"). ExcelStor alleged that when the Agreement was signed, Papst had already given third party Hitachi a license covering the same HDDs. Furthermore, ExcelStor alleged that Papst concealed the Hitachi license from ExcelStor.
Based upon the alleged double royalties, ExcelStor filed this action seeking declaratory judgments that both Papst and the Agreement violated the patent exhaustion doctrine* by extracting two licensing fees for the same product based upon the same patent portfolio. But the Court held that patent exhaustion is a defense to patent infringement, not a cause of action. Because patent exhaustion does not entitle ExcelStor to relief, it does not create federal question jurisdiction. Similarly, ExcelStor's state law claims for fraud and breach of contract claim do not create federal question jurisdiction because they relate to patent exhaustion - they are questions of state law for which the Court lacked jurisdiction. The Court also noted that it did not consider whether diversity jurisdiction existed because neither party raised it.
* For more on patent exhaustion, specifically the Supreme Court's patent exhaustion case this term, click here.
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Aguila Records, Inc. v. Federico, No. 07 C 3993, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 10, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants' Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff's Lanham Act, copyright infringement and breach of contract complaint. Plaintiff, a music management and recording agency, alleged that it entered into an oral agreement with individual defendant Sergio Federico ("Federico"), a musician, giving plaintiff exclusive rights to Federico's and his musical group Alacranes Musical's ("Alacranes") recordings. Shortly after agreeing to a ten-year extension of the agreement, plaintiff alleged that Federico quit the Alacranes and joined defendant musical group Aliados de la Sierra ("Sierra"). Plaintiff claimed that defendants infringed its scorpion trademark by using scorpion logos in their promotional material. Plaintiff also alleged that defendants violated plaintiff's copyright in the song "Por Tu Amor" - click here to watch the Alacranes' music video on YouTube - by performing the song without authorization. Defendants argued that plaintiff failed to state its claims because several of plaintiff's allegations were false, unsupported or otherwise incorrect. But the Court held that plaintiff had sufficiently pled its claims and that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion was not the appropriate vehicle for evaluating the strength of the evidence.
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Ball Aerosol & Specialty Container, Inc. v. Limited Brands, Inc., No. 05 C 3684, 2007 WL 2570351 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 4, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted plaintiff Ball Aerosol & Specialty Container ("BASC") summary judgment on the issue of patent damages, held that the case was exceptional and then doubled some of the damages and trebled the remainder. The Court previously construed the claims of BASC's patent for a candle tin with a cover that can be used as a base and granted plaintiff summary judgment of infringement. In this opinion, the Court weighed the Georgia Pacific factors and held that they warranted a royalty rate of 20%. This rate represented an increase over the 17% rate BASC argued it would have granted in an arms-length negotiation to compensate BASC for the compulsory license. The Court then found that the case was exceptional because, among other reasons, defendants continued selling infringing product after the Court granted summary judgment of infringement. Based on the exceptional case holding, the Court doubled the damages from sales before the Court granted BASC summary judgment of infringement and trebled the damages for all sales after summary judgment.
Summary judgment of damages is a fairly rare occurrence. A quick review of the docket does not suggest that the parties waived their right to a jury. So, the facts in this case must have been very strong.
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Sotelo v. Suburban 171, Inc., No. 07 C 2447, 2007 WL 2570355 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 29, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants' Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiffs' Lanham Act unfair competition claim. Plaintiffs operated a salon called "Studio 171." Defendants took over the location of plaintiffs' salon and operated their own salon using all of the Studio 171 signage and marks. Defendants argued that plaintiffs' unfair competition claim should be dismissed because the Studio 171 mark was either descriptive or generic and plaintiff did not plead secondary meaning. But the Court held that the argument was premature. A plaintiff need not plead secondary meaning.* And furthermore, plaintiffs did plead secondary meaning, stating that the Studio 171 mark had developed "considerable value" and become "uniquely associated" with plaintiffs' business. The Court did, however, dismiss plaintiffs' RICO claim for failing to plead their fraud allegations with particularity pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b).
* The Court did not cite the Supreme Court's recent decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007) (read more about the decision at the University of Chicago Faculty Blog). But based on other recent opinions citing Twombly for heightened pleading requirements, I wonder if plaintiffs at least should plead secondary meaning now.
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Republic Tobacco L.P. v. North Atlantic Trading Co., No. 06 C 2738, 2007 WL 1424093 (N.D. Ill. May 10, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).*
Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted plaintiff/counter-defendant Republic Tobacco's ("Republic") motion for summary judgment on defendant/counter-plaintiff North Atlantic Trading's ("North Atlantic") counterclaims and granted North Atlantic's motion for summary judgment as to each of Republic's claims. Republic brought claims against North Atlantic for Lanham Act false advertising, violation of the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("IDTPA") and other state law claims, all arising out of an allegedly "false and misleading" presentation entitled "Cigarette Paper Review" ("CPR") which North Atlantic allegedly gave to various Republic customers. The CPR allegedly criticized Republic, saying among other things that Republic's cigarette rolling papers were the same as North Atlantic's and that Republic's Chairman Donald Levin had "lied" about the composition of Republic's cigarette papers. North Atlantic filed counterclaims alleging Lanham Act false advertising, violation of the IDTPA and other state law claims, all arising out of Republic's alleged sales of orange cigarette papers similar in color and size to North Atlantic's orange Zig-Zag papers, for the purpose of confusing or deceiving consumers.
Because Republic could not establish that the statements in the CPR were literally false, as opposed to just misleading, and because many of the statements were subject to innocent constructions, Republic could not prove its false advertising or IDTPA claims.
Republic sought summary judgment of all of North Atlantic's claims because, among other reasons, the license agreement governing North Atlantic's use of the Zig-Zag marks and cigarette papers did not allow North Atlantic to bring its counterclaims. Republic argued that the licensor of the Zig-Zag marks, Bollore, had the right and duty to bring the suit and, if at all, North Atlantic could only bring the counterclaims after North Atlantic notified Bollore of the counterclaims and Bollore had decided not to file them. North Atlantic argued that Bollore was aware of the suit and had not attempted to stop North Atlantic from prosecuting its counterclaims, but provided no evidence that it ever provided Bollore notice of Republic's alleged infringement, as required by the agreement. The agreement required that either party notify the other of any infringements, and provided Bollore sole discretion to prosecute infringements. North Atlantic was allowed to pursue infringers "which Bollore determines not to commence or diligently pursue . . . ." Because North Atlantic did not provide evidence to counter Republic's Local Rule 56.1 statement of material fact that Bollore never gave North Atlantic consent to bring the counterclaims, the Court deemed that fact admitted. The Court, therefore, granted Republic summary judgment on North Atlantic's counterclaims because Bollore never consented to North Atlantic's filing of them, as required by the agreement.
* More on a similar case between the parties can be read in the Blog's archives.
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Days Inns Worldwide, Inc. v. Lincoln Park Hotels, Inc., No. 06 C 2960, 2007 WL 1455798 (N.D. Ill. May 16, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.) Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted in part defendants’ motion for reconsideration of the Court’s award of plaintiff’s attorneys fees’ and costs for preparing summary judgment motions. Plaintiff owns various marks relating to its Days Inn … Continue Reading
Days Inns Worldwide, Inc. v. Lincoln Park Hotels, Inc., No. 06 C 2960, 2007 WL 551570 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 22, 2007) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.) Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted plaintiff summary judgment on its trademark infringement and Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("IDTPA") claims, among others. Plaintiff owns various marks relating to its Days Inn chain (the "Days … Continue Reading
QSRSoft, Inc. v. Restaurant Tech., Inc., No. 06 C 2734, 2006 WL 3196928 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 2, 2006) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.). In this trade secret and copyright dispute, Judge Der-Yeghiayan granted the individual defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s conversion claim because it was preempted by plaintiff’s Illinois Trade Secrets Act claim. The Court, however, denied the … Continue Reading