News and Articles

Copyright Violation and the Constitutionality of Excessive Damages – Music Downloaders Beware!

The Eight Circuit affirmed the constitutionality of statutory damages for copyright infringement against the challenge that it is disproportionately excessive in Capitol Records, Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, 692 F.3d 899 (8th Cir. 2012). In 2011, record companies sued a woman for making copyrighted music available to others for free download by using a file-sharing service.  First the jury awarded the record companies $222,000 in damage.  Months after the verdict, however, the district court granted a new




Employee Access vs. Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

The Michigan District Court in Dana Limited v. American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings, Inc., 1:10-cv-00450 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 19, 2013) addressed an important aspect of a trade secret misappropriation claims, holding that the mere fact that a former employee had access to a valid trade secret does not necessarily mean that he or she misappropriated the trade secret just, by the act of accepting employment at a competing company. In May




Copyrights and Litigation Documents

The matter Unclaimed Property Recovery Service, Inc. v. Kaplan No., 12-4030 (2d Cir., Aug. 20, 2013) presents an issue of whether the holder of a copyright in a litigation document may withdraw the authorization to use the document after the document has already been introduced into the litigation and make subsequent infringement claim for the use of the document in the litigation. The plaintiff in this case, Bernard Gelb and




FIRREA and Bank Fraud

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in U.S. ex rel. O’Donnell v. Bank of America Corp et al., No. 12-01422 (S.D.N.Y. 2013), has endorsed a broad interpretation of a savings-and-loan era law that the Justice Department is trying to use in cases against Wall Street banks. This ruling came as part of a federal case against Bank of America over allegations that it sold toxic




Assignment of Intent-to-use Trademark Applications

The Trademark Act Section 10(a)(1) clearly states that an intent-to-use application cannot be assigned “except for an assignment to a successor to the business of the applicant, or portion thereof, to which the mark pertains, if that business is ongoing and existing.” In the recent Trademark Trial and Appeal Board case, Cent. Garden & Pet Co. v. Doskocil Mfg. Co., No. 91188816 (TTAB August 16, 2013), All-Glass Aquarium Co., a




Copyright and Architecture

In 2004, the Fourth Circuit revived a two prong test for a copyright claim involving architecture between two home builders in Charles W. Ross Builder, Inc. v. Olsen Fine Home Building, 2012 WL 5447871 (4th Cir. Nov. 8, 2012). Rick and Jennifer Rubin, who wished to build new home, had visited the plaintiff Ross’s model home and received a copy of a brochure, including the “Bainbridge” model allegedly copied by




Federal Circuit and Advisory Council Model Orders

On July 22, 2013, a model order relating to the number of asserted claims and prior art references in patent litigations was released on the Federal Circuit Advisory Council’s webpage. The order required that in the first phase, plaintiffs must select 10 claims per patent, and 32 claims total, 40 days after production of “core” technical documents, while defendants are limited to 12 prior art references per patent and 40




The Lanham Act and Jim Brown

On July 31, 2013, the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the Lanham Act claims brought by Jim Brown, a former NFL star, against video game developer Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA). The court concluded that the Rogers balancing test was the appropriate standard to evaluate defendant EA’s use of Brown’s likeness in video games, and since the use of his likeness was artistically relevant to games, it is protected by the




M&A and Government Immunity

The Supreme Court’s decision in FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System Inc., 133 S. Ct. 1003 (2013) put a limitation on the state immunity under which local governments across the country have relied upon for decades to shield their activities from federal antitrust scrutiny. This decision will open the door to challenging numerous government transactions including the transactions consummated before the Phoebe Putney decision. Until Phoebe Putney, the Supreme Court




Trade Secret and Contract Law

The Federal Circuit has recently articulated the position that a contractual agreement to transfer otherwise secret information will override trade secret protections that may be in place. The recent case on-point was Convolve, Inc. v. Compaq Computer Corp., No. 2012-1074, 2013 WL 3285331 (Fed. Cir. July 1, 2013), reaches back more than a decade to 1998, when MIT and Convolve sued a group of defendants for both trade secret misappropriation