Congratulations to Chief Judge Castillo and Judge Lefkow who were both honored as 2017 Justice John Paul Stevens awardees earlier this month. The Justice John Paul Stevens award was created by his former clerks to annually honor attorneys that best exemplify Justice Stevens’ commitment to integrity and public service in the practice of law. The … Continue Reading
Solo Cup Operating Corp. v. Lollicup USA, Inc., No. 16 C 8041, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 17, 2017) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted plaintiff Solo Cup’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss several of defendant Lollicup’s counterclaims in this trademark dispute involving Solo Cup’s product configuration mark or trade dress for its … Continue Reading
Peerless Indus., Inc. v. Crimson AV LLC, No. 11 C 1768, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 31, 2017) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted in part plaintiff Peerless’ renewed Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law as to invalidity and, in the alternative, Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 motion for … Continue Reading
Tech. Dev. & Licensing, LLC v. General Instr. Corp., No. 07 C 4512, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 6, 2016) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted defendant GI’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity based upon 35 U.S.C. §101 and denied as moot GI’s motion to exclude plaintiff TD&L’s expert’s opinions in this patent dispute related … Continue Reading
Chicago Bd. Options Ex., Inc. v. Int’l. Secs. Ex., LLC, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 10, 2014) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted in part Chicago Board Options Exchange’s (“CBOE”) § 285 motion for attorney’s fees after International Securities Exchange (“ISE”) stipulated to CBOE’s noninfringement, the Court entered final judgment and the … Continue Reading
Avnet, Inc. v. Motio, Inc.., No 12 C 2100, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 30, 2015) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted defendant Motio’s motion to amend its answer and counterclaim adding counterclaims and an affirmative defense regarding inequitable conduct and related antitrust claims. As an initial matter, while Fed. R. Civ. P. 15 requires that … Continue Reading
Hester v. j2Global Comm., Inc., No. 13 C 6143, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 19, 2014) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow held that venue was improper in this patent inventorship dispute, but instead of dismissing, transferred the case to the N.D. Georgia. The Court lacked venue because: At least one defendant did not reside in Illinois; … Continue Reading
Unified Messaging Sols., LLC v. United Online, Inc., MDL No. 2371, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 3, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow denied defendants’ United Online, Juno Online Services, Netzero and Memory Lane (collectively “UOL Defendants”) motion to deconsolidate their case from this earlier consolidated patent litigation. The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation transferred the … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted in part plaintiff CBOE’s motion to strike defendant ISE’s expert witness in this patent case, as follows: This case was not governed by the Local Patent Rules (“LPR”) because it was filed before the LPR became … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow considered defendant ISE’s arguments that the Court’s construction of “means for matching” was incomplete because it did not define an algorithm as part of the structure for the means plus function term. The Court held that there … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted defendant ISE’s motion to exclude plaintiff CBOE’s evidence of non-infringing alternatives from the lost profits analysis in this patent case. The identified alternative was never in use during the alleged infringement. And CBOE offered only conclusory … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted plaintiff CBOE’s motion in limine excluding argument that § 103 obviousness references must each be enabling in this patent case. Furthermore, the Court limited defendant ISE’s enablement arguments to those specifically called out in ISE’s expert’s … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted in part plaintiff CBOE’s motion in limine to exclude defendant ISE from introducing evidence of secondary consideration of nonobviousness in this patent case. Commercial Success: Whether ISE had shown a nexus between its products and the … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted plaintiff CBOE’s motion in limine limiting defendant ISE’s expert testimony consistent with prior rulings regarding the scope of evidence in this patent case. The expert was allowed to testify regarding alleged infringement by CBOE’s accused CBOEdirect … Continue Reading
CBOE v. ISE, No. 07 C 623, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 6, 2013) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted in part CBOE’s motion in limine to limit ISE’s infringement argument at trial in this patent case. The issue for trial was whether CBOE’s Hybrid system was “merely two independent exchanges” or an integrated system. ISE … Continue Reading
Smart Options, LLC c. Jump Rope, Inc., No. 12 C 2498, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 11, 2013) (St. Eve, J.). Judge St. Eve granted defendant Jump Rope’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 motion for sanctions in this patent case. The Court previously granted Jump Rope summary judgment of noninfringement and plaintiff Smart Options appealed … Continue Reading
Flava Works, Inc. v. Rowader, No. 12 C 7181, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 16, 2012) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow denied defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss plaintiff Flava Works copyright suit for lack of jurisdiction and improper venue. Defendant – a California citizen who did not direct any business at Illinois … Continue Reading
Cascades Computer Innovations, LLC v. SK hynix, Inc., No. 11 C 4356, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 25, 2012) (Lefkow, J.). Judge Lefkow granted a sixteen month stay of this patent case pending defendants’ inter partes reexamination of the patent in suit. The Court originally denied an unbounded stay. But the Court held that a … Continue Reading
Peerless Indus., Inc. v. Crimson AV, LLC, No. 11 C 1768, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 10, 2011) (Lefkow, J.).
Judge Lefkow denied plaintiff Peerless' motion for a preliminary injunction in this patent and tortious interference case involving audio-visual mount equipment. Peerless had a manufacturing agreement with Sycamore Manufacturing ("Sycamore") which was terminated no later than March 2010. The agreement included a non-compete clause that prevented Sycamore from selling the products it made for Peerless or any similar products, with a very broad definition of similarity. After the March 2010 termination and before the end of the non-compete term, in March 2011, Sycamore began selling similar products to defendant Crimson. The Court held that Peerless had "negligible" likelihood of success because the non-compete clause was likely unenforceable because it was broader than necessary to protect Peerless' interests. The scope of similar products was far too broad. The scope should have been limited to substantially similar products. Additionally, the definition of similar products was "unworkably difficult to determine."
Peerless also could not show irreparable harm. As an initial matter, the non-compete term had ended before the date this Opinion issued. An injunction barring Crimson from selling product the agreement now allowed it to sell would have improperly extended the term of the non-compete. Additionally, because the alleged unauthorized sales were complete, the damages were readily quantifiable.
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Heathcote Holdings Corp. v. L'Oreal USA, Inc., No. 11 C 1921, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 9, 2011) (Lefkow, J.).
Judge Lefkow granted defendant L'Oreal's motion to transfer plaintiff's false patent marking case involving boxes of hair dye to the S.D. New York, L'Oreal's home district. Generally, plaintiff's Heathcote's choice of forum would be given deference, but in false marking cases the United States is the real party in interest. So, the qui tam plaintiff's chosen forum is given little deference. The situs of material events was New York, where the accused packaging was designed and where the relevant employees reside. L'Oreal's witnesses and documents were more likely in New York than Illinois.
The convenience of the parties also weighed in favor of New York. Heathcote did not identify any employees that would have to travel to New York for the case, whereas L'Oreal's relevant employees were in New York. Furthermore, Heathcote's only business was litigation and therefore the travel would not distract Heathcote from its business.
The interests of justice weighed in favor of transfer. There were already four false marking cases against L'Oreal or its subsidiaries that had been transferred to the S.D. New York. And the potential consolidation of those cases would benefit the parties and judicial economy.
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The patent pilot program started this month in the Northern District and across the country. The pilot program is a ten-year look at ways to handle patent cases more effectively. The main component of the pilot program is judges in pilot districts, including the Northern District, self-selecting as patent judges. Patent cases will continue to be randomly assigned to all Northern District judges. But when a non-patent judge is assigned a patent case that judge will have thirty days to order reassignment of the case. When reassignment is ordered, the case will be randomly reassigned to one of the patent judges. There will also be patent-related education and programs offered for the patent judges across the country.
One unanswered question about the pilot program remains: If a non-patent judge was assigned a patent case less than thirty days before the program kicked off on September 19, can the non-patent judge order the patent case reassigned pursuant to the pilot program? I have not seen it happen yet, but I suspect it could over the next week or two.
The Northern District issued the following list of judges who have self-selected as patent judges:
Chief Judge James F. Holderman
Judge Ruben Castillo
Judge John W. Darrah
Judge Gary S. Feinerman
Judge Virginia Kendall
Judge Matthew F. Kennelly
Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow
Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
Judge Amy J. St. Eve
Judge James B. Zagel
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First Step Child Care Center, Inc. v. KASI Designs, Inc., No. 10 C 7372, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 24, 2011) (Lefkow, J.).
Judge Lefkow remanded plaintiff's state claims involving the building of a child care center to state court. Defendant removed the case from state court alleging that it would bring copyright counterclaims. But defendant never asserted its counterclaims, and even if it had counterclaims cannot create original jurisdiction.
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Lettuce Entertain You Enters., Inc. v. Leila Sophie AR, LLC, No. 09 CV 2582, Slip. Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 26, 2010), (Lefkow, J.).
Judge Lefkow granted plaintiff Lettuce Entertain You ("LEYE") a preliminary injunction against defendants' use of the name "Lettuce Mix" in their salad bar restaurant in Lincoln Park. LEYE argued that the defendants' "Lettuce Mix" name would infringe its family of "Lettuce" marks for use in restaurant services.
Likelihood of Success
LEYE's Lettuce marks were not generic as used for restaurant services. While some of LEYE's meals included lettuce, LEYE was not in the business of lettuce sales. And defendant's intent to use its Lettuce Mix name was sufficient for use in commerce.
The Court held there was a likelihood of confusion. Both parties marks focus upon "lettuce" and use it as a pun for "let us." This is true even though LEYE's logo, which includes a waiter opening a covered a dish was different from defendant's logo. Additionally the parties' services in the restaurant industry were similar.
Both parties used the marks in the same area and manner. They directly compete for restaurant customers, and at least one of LEYE'S 70 restaurants is within one mile of Lettuce Mix. To the extent both parties cater to patrons seeking inexpensive, casual meals, the patrons are assumed to use a lesser degree of care, even though some of LEYE's restaurants are more expensive.
LEYE's family of Lettuce markers was strong, and defendants' argument to the contrary was their genericness argument that the Court previously denied.
LEYE, however, did not provide evidence of actual confusion, although actual confusion is not required. And there was no evidence that defendants intended to pass themselves off as affiliated with LEYE. Finally, defendants' was not a fair use because lettuce was not descriptive of their service.
Trademark infringements are presumed to result in irreparable harm. LEYE would, therefore, have been irreparably harmed by any trademark infringement from defendants.
Defendants would not suffer significant harm from the injunction given that they had already stopped using the allegedly infringing name. And any loss of defendants' goodwill would be attributable to their own actions.
The public interest would not be harmed by the preliminary injunction. Enforcement of trademarks serves the public good, and LEYE had shown a "substantial" likelihood of confusion.
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President Obama announced a couple of nominations this week impacting the Northern District of Illinois and the national patent bar.
First, President Obama appointed WilmerHale partner Edward DuMont to the Federal Circuit. DuMont clerked for the Seventh Circuit's Judge Posner and was an Assistant to the Solicitor General where he briefed and argued Supreme Court cases. DuMont currently has an appellate practice with a considerable focus on patent and intellectual property issues (click here for DuMont's firm bio). DuMont also spent a year working for a law firm in Bangkok, Thailand. DuMont's Supreme Court and varied appellate experience make him a very interesting choice to take Judge Michel's place on the Federal Circuit bench.
Second, President Obama has nominated the Northern District's Deputy U.S. Marshall Senior Inspector Darryl McPherson to become the Northern District's next U.S. Marshall. McPherson has served as a Deputy U.S. Marshall since 1999 and won a Special Recognition award for his service as lead Deputy Marshall for Judge Lefkow.
Both nomination must be confirmed by a vote of the U.S. Senate.
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