Tag: Litigation

1
Western Australian Court orders ex-customers and architect to pay damages to house designer for unauthorised use of plans
2
Sixth Circuit rules knurling pattern on rifle scopes could be nonfunctional trade dress
3
Petitioners bear the burden of proving invalidity of amended claims in IPR proceedings
4
Emerging trends in U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act litigation
5
UK to introduce new Unjustified Threats Bill across IP law
6
Coming Home? Part Two: Federal Circuit Denies Mandamus Petition Seeking Clarity on Waiver Issues Post-TC Heartland
7
The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl: Moral Rights Protections in Australia and the U.S.
8
Britax overruled – Federal Court sets record straight for infringement of innovation patents
9
An Apple a Day Doesn’t Keep Litigation at Bay
10
Take a Closer Look Next Time you Flag a Black Cab…

Western Australian Court orders ex-customers and architect to pay damages to house designer for unauthorised use of plans

On 22 January 2018, Justice Martino of the Supreme Court of Western Australia delivered his judgment in the case of Milankov Designs & Project Management Pty Ltd v Di Latte & Anor, a copyright infringement case in respect of house plans.

Mr and Mrs Di Latte engaged the plaintiff, Milankov Designs & Project Management Pty Ltd (Milankov), to design and prepare drawings for a home to be built at the Di Lattes’ property.  The agreement provided that Milankov would prepare plans for stages of the design and build process – first, the development stage and, second, the construction drawing stage. The Di Lattes agreed to pay Milankov a percentage of the build cost, to be billed to the Di Lattes at various stages throughout the process.

After Milankov had prepared the stage one plans (including plans submitted to council for building licence approval) and the Di Lattes had paid several invoices issued by Milankov, the relationship between the parties broke down.  The engagement contract was terminated by the Di Lattes, and Milankov promptly wrote to the Di Lattes putting them on notice that Milankov owned copyright in the plans it had created and that the Di Lattes were not entitled to reproduce the plans without its permission, including by building the house at their property.

Nonetheless, the Di Lattes proceeded to engage an architect to create plans including construction drawings by copying Milankov’s plans, and then to construct a house in accordance with the design.

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Sixth Circuit rules knurling pattern on rifle scopes could be nonfunctional trade dress

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a reasonable jury could find a design pattern on rifle scopes is “nonfunctional” and thus potentially amenable to trade dress protection. Since 2002, Leapers, Inc. has been selling adjustable rifle scopes with knurling on the surface. Knurling is a common manufacturing technique that allows users to grip and fine-tune products more easily.

Leapers asserted “that it uses a unique knurling pattern that is distinctly ‘ornamental’ and by which customers recognize [Leapers] as the source of the product.” Leapers had executed an exclusive manufacturing contract with a Chinese company, but chose to end that relationship in 2011. The manufacturer agreed to cease using all technical specifications and designs, but later a factory manager from the manufacturer formed his own company and began manufacturing scopes allegedly using Leapers’ knurling design.

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Petitioners bear the burden of proving invalidity of amended claims in IPR proceedings

On October 4, 2017, the Federal Circuit held en banc that the proper interpretation of 35 U.S.C. 316(d) and (e) requires the Petitioner in an inter partes review (IPR) to prove all propositions of unpatentability, including for amended claims.  Aqua Prods., Inc. v. Matal, No. 2015-1177 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 4, 2017).  The en banc Court further determined that the PTAB must consider the entirety of the record when assessing the patentability of amended claims under 318(a), not merely the face of a motion to amend.

The Aqua case resulted in five opinions totaling 148 pages, each presenting views on judgment and underlying rationale, ultimately leading to a narrowly tailored holding.  In the decision, the Federal Circuit made clear that the burden of persuasion of patentability does not rest with the Patent Owner; instead, it is left to the Petitioner to establish that any proposed amended claims are not patentable.

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Emerging trends in U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act litigation

U.S. Congress created the first statutory private federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation when it enacted the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) on May 11, 2016.  Now, more than a year since its enactment, the DTSA is being shaped and interpreted by various federal court decisions and enforcement trends are emerging.

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UK to introduce new Unjustified Threats Bill across IP law

The United Kingdom’s new Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act 2017 (the Act) was recently granted royal assent and is set to come into force in October 2017. The Act should make it easier to advise clients, avoid litigation and facilitate the negotiation of settlements by outlining what types of threats are unjustified. The Act will also harmonise the UK law on unjustified threats across patents, trade marks and design rights.

Currently, the law allows those accused of infringing intellectual property to sue for damages if threats of legal action against them are revealed to be groundless. This can lead to rights-holders becoming wary of challenging perceived threats to their intellectual property because they do not want to risk their threats being perceived as groundless and, as a result, do not exercise full protection of their intellectual property rights.

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Coming Home? Part Two: Federal Circuit Denies Mandamus Petition Seeking Clarity on Waiver Issues Post-TC Heartland

This legal alert is a follow-up to “Coming Home?: Federal Circuit Asked to Immediately Weigh in on Proper Venue Post-TC Heartland,” available here.

On the morning of June 9, 2017, the defendants in Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc., filed their Mandamus Petition seeking immediate review of the district court’s decision to deny their request to transfer venue. [1]  The defendants also renewed their emergency motion to stay the proceedings pending Federal Circuit review.  The Federal Circuit denied both requests late in the afternoon the same day.  The Federal Circuit did not weigh in on any of the substantive issues regarding waiver of venue challenges, but rather determined that mandamus relief was not the appropriate recourse in this instance. [2]

As with the previous denial of the defendants’ emergency motion to stay, Judge Newman dissented from the opinion.  Judge Newman again reiterated that “[t]here is little doubt that the Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, No. 16-341, 2017 WL 2216934 (U.S. May 22, 2017), was a change in the law of venue . . .” [3]  Judge Newman also opined that the case presented exceptional circumstances warranting mandamus review because “if the trial commences next Monday as scheduled, the landscape will have changed dramatically—without a stay, the event will be over, and an opportunity for this court to determine whether the district court’s decision was in compliance with the venue requirements revived by TC Heartland may have harsh consequences.” [4]

The district court in the underlying litigation is set to begin trial today.

Notes:
[1] No. 15-cv-21 (E.D. Va.).

[2] In re Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 17-124, Dkt. No. 15 at 2 (Fed. Cir. June 9, 2017).

[3] Id. at 5 (Newman, J., dissenting).

The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl: Moral Rights Protections in Australia and the U.S.

The Charging Bull has been an iconic New York City landmark since it was placed outside the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989 in an act of guerrilla art.  Despite initially being removed, the statue’s popularity caused it to be relocated to Bowling Green days later, where it has since remained, on loan to the New York City Council.  Earlier this year, on the eve of International Women’s Day, Charging Bull was joined at Bowling Green by a second guerrilla-art installation, sculptor Kristen Visbal’s four foot statue titled Fearless Girl, who stares defiantly at the Charging Bull.

The artist behind the Charging Bull, Artutro Di Modica, claims that the placement of Fearless Girl is an insult to the Charging Bull and that her placement is ‘attacking the bull’.  The competing interests of the artists raise interesting questions in intellectual property law, specifically regarding Di Modica’s ‘moral rights’.  Does the Fearless Girl have reason to fear impending intellectual property litigation? Or will the Charging Bull have to accept the new kid on the block?

Click here to read more.

By: Sophie Taylor

Britax overruled – Federal Court sets record straight for infringement of innovation patents

The Full Court of the Federal Court’s decision in Coretell Pty Ltd v Australian Mud Company Pty Ltd [2017] FCAFC 54 has clarified the date from which the owner of an innovation patent is entitled to compensation for infringement of the innovation patent.  In the case of an innovation patent which has been filed as a divisional application, the Court’s decision significantly alters the time from which relief can be claimed, and has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of compensation to which the patentee is entitled.

A previous decision of the Federal Court of Australia (Britax Childcare Pty Ltd v Infa-Secure Pty Ltd (No 3) [2012] FCA 1019) held that the owner of a divisional innovation patent was entitled to relief from the date that the “parent” application became open for public inspection (OPI).  This allowed a patentee to strategically file a divisional innovation patent with claims tailored to read on to a competitor’s conduct, and then claim relief from the parent’s OPI date (which may have been some years earlier).  As Justice Burley noted in Coretell, this produced the unattractive result of a person being liable to pay compensation for acts of infringement pre-dating the existence of the innovation patent said to have been infringed.

Justice Burley (with whom Justice Nicholas and Jagot agreed) corrected this anomaly and made clear that the relevant date for relief for infringement of an innovation patent is its date of grant.  This diminishes the strategic benefit of patentees filing divisional innovation patents – although divisional innovation patents can still be tailored to target the conduct of a potential infringer, the patentee will only be entitled to relief from the date the divisional innovation patent was granted, and therefore publicly accessible, and not before.

By: Alex Dunlop and Nakita Wilkinson

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Keep Litigation at Bay

Victoria’s Supreme Court of Appeal has granted Apple and Pear Australia Limited’s (APAL) appeal in relation to their dispute with Pink Lady America LLC (PLA) over the refreshed “flowing heart” Pink Lady composite trade mark used in association with everyone’s favourite apple variety.[1],[2]

The dispute brought to light a number of crunchy commercial contract issues relating to agreements between APAL, PLA and the International Pink Lady Alliance (Alliance) that dealt with rights to particular trade marks registered in Chile (one of the key growing regions for the Cripps Pink and Rosy Glow apple varieties which are sold under the “Pink Lady” brand). PLA left the Alliance in June 2010.

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Take a Closer Look Next Time you Flag a Black Cab…

By Briony Pollard and Serena Totino

Last month, a quintessential London symbol was subject to the scrutiny of the Hon. Mr. Justice Arnold in a case concerning Community and UK trade marks for the iconic shape of the black London taxi cab in Class 12 (the Trade Marks), owned by The London Taxi Corporation Limited (LTC).

LTC claimed that Frazer-Nash Research Limited and Ecotive Limited (FNR) had intended to deceive the public as to the origin of the Metrocab, a new model of the London taxi. LTC argued that a result of FNR adopting the specific shape it had for the Metrocab, was that consumers would think that it emanated from the same source as LTC’s taxis. As such, FNR threatened to infringe the trade marks and to commit passing off by marketing the Metrocab. FNR contended that the trade marks were invalidly registered because they lack distinctive character and give substantial value to the goods.

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