Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Intellectual Property
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DHS sued VHS for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, and trademark violations. DHS engaged VHS to market and sell the drug Provasca. After that relationship ended, VHS began to manufacture, market, and sell Arterosil, a product similar in many respects to Provasca. The court held that the district court granted DHS's request for a preliminary injunction after making sufficient findings of fact to support each element of the analysis and applying the correct legal standard to those facts. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the preliminary injunction in full and lifted the stay of the injunction. The court remanded and directed the district court to expedite the trial on the permanent injunction and to attempt to narrow the breadth of its preliminary injunction. View "Daniels Health Sciences, L.L.C v. Vascular Health Sciences, L.L.C." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a contract dispute between Verint and Tekelec where Tekelec sought a right to payment stemming from a patent dispute between two corporate entities not directly involved in this appeal. The district court awarded summary judgment to Tekelec and denied Verint's cross-motion for summary judgment. The court rejected Verint's claims that Tekelc lacked constitutional standing to enforce its right to the payments at issue. Because the court concluded that Verint's fixed, contractual payment obligations under the Blue Pumpkin/IEX Agreement unambiguously fell outside of the scope of the subsequent Verint/NICE Settlement's boilerplate Non-Accrual Clause, the court need not consider Tekelec's alternative argument that the disputed payments accrued prior to the effective date of the Verint/NICE Settlement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Tekelec, Inc. v. Verint Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, doing business as Paddle Tramps, appealed the district court's order granting a partial preliminary injunction against his use of trademarks belonging to 32 Greek Organizations. The Greek Organizations cross-appealed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in instructing the jury that to prove unclean hands, the Greek Organizations had to show that plaintiff knowingly and intentionally infringed upon the marks with the bad faith intent to benefit from or capitalize on the Greek Organization's goodwill by confusing or deceiving buyers; the evidence was legally sufficient to allow a jury to find for plaintiff on the unclean hands issue because it supported a showing of plaintiff's lack of bad faith; the district court did not abuse its discretion in its instruction to the jury on the lack-of-excuse element of laches and on undue prejudice; and the jury's finding of undue prejudice was supported by the evidence. Therefore, the district court correctly denied the Greek Organization's motion for judgment as a matter of law. The court also held that the district court properly balanced the equities in resolving this dispute and did not abuse its discretion in fashioning injunctive relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Abraham v. Alpha Chi Omega, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the host of a nationally syndicated radio show and the author of several books, appealed an adverse judgment in his suit against various defendants for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and tortious interference. Defendants cross-appealed the denial of attorneys' fees. Because the court agreed that the facts of this case supported the creation of an exclusive license as to the first work at issue, and an implied nonexclusive license as to the second work at issue, the court affirmed the jury's verdict that defendants did not infringe on plaintiff's copyrights. The court rejected the remaining challenges to the district court's judgment and affirmed in all respects. View "Baisden v. I'm Ready Productions, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, developer of a passive radio frequency identification (RFID) system for commercial use, alleged a number of Texas claims against a group of software companies in state court. Defendants moved the suit to federal court and obtained a dismissal from the district court on the basis that all of plaintiff's claims were preempted by the Copyright Act, 28 U.S.C. 1338. The court held that the complete preemption doctrine applied in copyright preemption cases; plaintiff had pled factual allegations that at least in part fell outside of the scope of copyright; and defendants have argued enough of a basis for preemption on plaintiff's conversion claim to stay in federal court. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "GlobeRanger Corp. v. Software AG, et al." on Justia Law

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This case arose when Ford sent a cease-and-desist letter to NBFP, demanding that NBFP pay damages and refrain from using Ford's trademarks on its websites. NBFP sued Ford in Texas state court, seeking a declaratory judgment that its online printing operations did not infringe Ford's trademark rights. NBFP subsequently appealed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment for Ford; the district court's final judgment holding NBFP liable for trademark infringement; and the district court's order denying NBFP's motion to amend its complaint. Ford cross-appealed from the district court's final judgment, disputing that court's findings on infringement, dilution, and attorney's fees. The court held that the district court's grant of partial summary judgment to Ford was affirmed. Because there was no likely threat of consumer confusion as to NBFP's sale of products bearing the Ford marks to three independent used car dealers, the court reversed the district court's judgment finding that NBFP's sale of these products amounted to trademark infringement, the court remanded to the district court with instructions to enter judgment for NBFP on this category of products. The court affirmed the district court's judgment in all other respects.

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Plaintiff sued defendant for fraud and for misappropriation of trade secrets over plaintiff's invention of the "Pit Bull," a machine intended to make the process of cleaning drilling fluids more efficient. Defendant appealed from a jury verdict awarding plaintiff compensatory damages and punitive damages for fraud and compensatory damages for misappropriation of trade secrets. Because plaintiff did not prove that he was entitled to damages on his fraud claim, the court rendered a take-nothing judgment on plaintiff's fraud claim, and reversed the jury's award of punitive damages. Because the verdict for misappropriation of trade secrets was supported by sufficient evidence, the court affirmed the jury's verdict on plaintiff's claim for misappropriation of trade secrets.

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This suit stemmed from the efforts of plaintiff and its owner and founder to obtain a patent for an invention related to personalized postage stamps and the suit involved state law claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with a patent application. Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff's claims were time-barred such that defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law and that in the alternative, there was no genuine issue of material fact as to the causation elements of plaintiff's claims. The court held that this case raised issues of patent law, and those issues were substantial because of the special federal interest in developing a uniform body of patent law in the Federal Circuit as recognized in Scherbatskoy v. Halliburton Co. and expressed by Congress's grant of exclusive appellate jurisdiction over patent cases to that court. Therefore, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal and transferred the suit to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1631.