Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Tractel, manufacturer and seller of the Tirak traction hoist, brought suit claiming that Jiangsu's hoists infringed the trade dress of the Tractel traction hoist. At issue was whether the Tractel traction hoist qualified for trade dress protection. The court agreed with the district court that Tractel did not meet its burden of establishing non-functionality and affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Jiangsu. The court affirmed the district court's award of attorney's fees to Jiangsu upon finding that this was an "exceptional" case meriting fees where Tractel's continued prosecution of its claims was held by the district court to be "unreasonable." While the line delineating "exceptional" cases under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(3), could be murky, this action fell squarely within the realm of exceptional cases contemplated by the Act. Finally, the court reversed the district court's award of non-taxable costs and certain taxable costs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Secalt S.A., et al. v. Wuxi Shenxi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd." on Justia Law

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Apple brought this action against Psystar for copyright infringement because Psystar was using Apple's software on Psystar computers. The district court held that Psystar was infringing Apple's federally registered copyrights in its operating software, Mac OS X, because Psystar was copying the software for use in Psystar's computers. Psystar subsequently appealed the district court's rejection of Psystar's copyright misuse defense, the district court's order enjoining Psystar's continuing infringement, and the district court's grant of Apple's motions to seal documents on grounds of maintaining confidentiality. The court held that Psystar's misuse defense failed because it was an attempt to apply the first sale doctrine to a valid licensing agreement. The court affirmed the district court's order enjoining Psystar's continuing infringement and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. 1203(b)(1), violations and held that the district court properly applied the Supreme Court's four eBay Inc. v MercExchange, L.L.C. factors. The court held, however, that there was no adequate basis on the record to support the sealing of any Apple records on grounds of confidentiality and applied the presumption in favor of access, vacating the district court's sealing orders. View "Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp." on Justia Law

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This case was brought pursuant to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), 15 U.S.C. 1125(d)(1) over the registered domain name "gopets.com." The main issue on appeal was whether the term "registration" applied only to the initial registration of the domain name, or whether it also applied to a re-registration of a currently registered domain name by a new registrant. The court concluded that such re-registration was not a "registration" within the meaning of section 1125(d)(1). Therefore, the court held that, because Edward Hise registered gopets.com in 1999, long before GoPets Ltd. registered its service mark, Digital Overture's re-registration and continued ownership of gopets.com did not violate section 1125(d)(1). The court held, however, that the Hises violated the ACPA in registering the additional domains because the Hises acted in bad faith and the court affirmed the district court's award for each of those registrations. The court also affirmed the district court's conclusion that the Hises' use of gopets.com violated the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq., and remanded for determination of any relief that the district court might find appropriate for that violation. The court finally vacated the district court's award of attorney's fees and remanded for reconsideration by the district court. View "GoPets Ltd. v. Hise, et al." on Justia Law

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Louis Vuitton sued Managed Solutions Group, Inc. (MSG), Akanoc Solutions, Inc., and Steven Chen (collectively, Defendants) for contributory copyright and trademark infringement, contending that Defendants were liable for their role in hosting websites that directly infringed Louis Vuitton's trademarks and copyrights. After trial, a jury found Defendants liable and awarded damages against each defendant. In response to Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law, the district court set aside the jury's verdict and award against MSG. The district court otherwise denied the motion. The court affirmed the district court on all issues of liability raised by the appeal and cross-appeal but vacated the judgment and remanded with instructions that the district court award statutory damages in the amount of $10,500,000 for contributory trademark infringement and $300,000 for contributory copyright infringement, for which Akanoc and Chen should be jointly and severally liable. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Akanoc Solutions, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the district court's summary judgment dismissing Fleischer Studios, Inc.'s (Fleischer) copyright and trademark infringement action where the district court ruled that Fleischer held neither a valid copyright nor a valid trademark in the Betty Boop cartoon character and therefore lacked standing to sue. The court held that because the chain of title was broken, the district court properly dismissed Fleischer's copyright infringement claim. The court vacated and remanded to the district court for further proceedings on Fleischer's trademark infringmenet claims regarding the Betty Boop word mark because it was unable to ascertain a legal basis for the district court's reasoning on the current record. View "Fleischer Studios, Inc. v. A.V.E.L.A., Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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CollegeSource, Inc. (CollegeSource), a California corporation with its principal place of business in California, sued AcademyOne, Inc. (AcademyOne), a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania, in federal district court for the Southern District of California, alleging that AcademyOne misappropriated material from CollegeSource's websites. AcademyOne moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and the district court granted its motion. The court held that AcademyOne was subject to specific personal jurisdiction, but not general personal jurisdiction, in California with respect to CollegeSource's misappropriation claims. Under the doctrine of pendant personal jurisdiction, AcademyOne was also subject to personal jurisdiction in California with respect to the remainder of CollegeSource's claims. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of CollegeSource's complaint and remanded for further proceedings.

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CollegeSource, Inc. (CollegeSource), a California corporation with its principal place of business in California, sued AcademyOne, Inc. (AcademyOne), a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania, in federal district court for the Southern District of California, alleging that AcademyOne misappropriated material from CollegeSource's websites. AcademyOne moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and the district court granted its motion. The court held that AcademyOne was subject to specific personal jurisdiction, but not general personal jurisdiction, in California with respect to CollegeSource's misappropriation claims. Under the doctrine of pendant personal jurisdiction, AcademyOne was also subject to personal jurisdiction in California with respect to the remainder of CollegeSource's claims. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of CollegeSource's complaint and remanded for further proceedings. View "CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc." on Justia Law

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Perfect 10 moved for a preliminary injunction against Google, arguing that it was entitled to an injunction because Google's web and image search and related caching feature, its Blogger service, and its practice of forwarding Perfect 10's takedown notices to chillingeffects.org constituted copyright infringement. Perfect 10 also argued that it was entitled to an injunction based upon Google's alleged violation of the rights of publicity assigned to Perfect 10 by some of its models. At issue was whether the district court erred in denying Perfect 10's request for preliminary injunctive relief. The court held that Perfect 10 had not shown a sufficient causal connection between irreparable harm to Perfect 10's business and Google's operation of its search engine. Therefore, the court held that because Perfect 10 had failed to satisfy this necessary requirement for obtaining preliminary injunctive relief, the district court's ruling was not an abuse of discretion. View "Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitioned for review of the BIA's decision dismissing his appeal from an IJ's order finding him removable and denying his application for cancellation of removal. Petitioner challenged the BIA's finding that his six convictions for "willfully manufacturing, intentionally selling, and knowingly possessing for sale more than 1,000 articles bearing a counterfeit trademark," in violation of California Penal Code 350(a)(2), constituted an aggravated felony as an "offense relating to... counterfeiting." Petitioner also maintained that the generic offense of counterfeiting referred only to the imitation of currency and that this conviction under section 350 did not require proof of his intent. The court held that the definition of aggravated felony extended to convictions for the unauthorized imitation of trademarks. The court also rejected petitioner's remaining argument that section 350 did not incorporate "an intent to defraud" as an essential element of the offense because "[t]he commission of the crime necessarily defrauds the owner of the mark, or an innocent purchaser of the counterfeit items, or both," and the court had "difficulty distinguishing such intent from a general intent to defraud[.]" Accordingly, the petition for review was denied. View "Rodriguez-Valencia v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed an order of summary judgment in favor of the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") in his eight Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. 552, requests for 19 C.F.R. 133.21(c) Notices of Seizures of Infringing Merchandise ("Notices") from certain United States ports. Appellant raised several issues of error on appeal. The court held that the district court's findings that the Notices contained plainly commercial information, which disclosed intimate aspects of an importers business such as supply chains and fluctuations of demand for merchandise, was well supported. The court also held that the district court was not clearly erroneous in its finding that the information at issue was confidential and privileged where the trade secret exemption of FOIA ("Exemption 4") was applicable. The court further held that when an agency freely disclosed to a third party confidential information covered by a FOIA exemption without limiting the third-party's ability to further disseminate the information then the agency waived the ability to claim an exemption to a FOIA request for the disclosed information. Therefore, the district court's ruling was affirmed in regards to FOIA Exemption 4 but the district court's conclusion as to the fees charged to appellant was reversed where CBP must follow the FOIA fee provisions under 19 C.F.R. 103.