Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Intellectual Property
Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd.
This case concerned a dispute over the Baltimore Ravens "Flying B" logo. After the Ravens had played their first season in 1997, plaintiff filed his first lawsuit against them and the NFL, alleging that the logo infringed the copyright in three of his drawings. In this appeal, plaintiff challenged the NFL's use of the logo in three videos featured on its television network and various websites, as well as the Baltimore Ravens' display of images that included the logo as part of exhibits in its stadium "Club Level" seating area. The court affirmed the district court's finding that defendants' limited use of the logo qualified as fair use. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd." on Justia Law
Dash v. Mayweather, Jr.
Anthony Lawrence Dash filed suit against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Mayweather Promotions, Mayweather Promotions LLC, Philthy Rich Records, Inc., and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), alleging that defendants violated his copyright by playing a variant of Dash's copyrighted music during Mayweather's entrance to two WWE events. On appeal, Dash challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment and its denial of reconsideration with respect to his entitlement to actual and profit damages under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 504(b). The court found that an expert's report's, (the Einhorn Report) estimation of Dash's lost licensing fee, without more, was too speculative to show that "a reasonable jury could return a verdict" in Dash's favor on his actual damages claim, and therefore, summary judgment was appropriate; even if the Einhorn Report had suggested or even expressly concluded that the use of Dash's beat at WWE events was of some value to defendants, summary judgment would still be appropriate because the evidence supporting such conclusion was overly speculative in light of the record before the court and, therefore, was insufficient to establish a genuine dispute regarding Dash's actual damages; and the district court properly granted defendant summary judgment on Dash's claim for profit damages because Dash provided the factfinder with no reasonable basis for concluding that the infringement contributed to defendants' profits. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Dash v. Mayweather, Jr." on Justia Law
Metropolitan Regional Info. Sys. v. American Home Realty Network
AHRN appealed the district court's entry of a preliminary injunction order prohibiting AHRN's display of MRIS's photographs on AHRN's referral website. The parties are competitors in the real estate listing business and MRIS contended that AHRN's unauthorized use of its copyrighted material constituted infringement under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. The court concluded that MRIS was not barred from asserting infringement of its copyrighted photographs, which were registered as component works in its automated database registrations; MRIS was likely to succeed against AHRN in establishing its ownership of copyright interests in the copied photographs; and, therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Metropolitan Regional Info. Sys. v. American Home Realty Network" on Justia Law
VRCompliance LLC v. HomeAway, Inc.
HomeAway filed suit in the District Court of Travis County, Texas, against Eye Street and others, asserting, inter alia, state law claims for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. Eye Street did not attempt to remove HomeAway's Texas suit to federal district court but, instead, filed its own action against HomeAway and others in federal district court. After HomeAway moved to dismiss Eye Street's action for improper venue or, alternatively, to transfer venue to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the district court stayed the action pending the resolution of HomeAway's Texas lawsuit. On appeal, Eye Street challenged the propriety of the stay. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in staying Eye Street's action. Given the strong case for a stay under the United Capitol Insurance Co. v. Kapiloff factors and Eye Street's deliberate choice to forego removal, the district court's decision would be an appropriate exercise of discretion under either Brillhart v. Excess Insurance Co. of America/Wilton v. Seven Falls Co. or Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "VRCompliance LLC v. HomeAway, Inc." on Justia Law
Georgia Pacific Consumer Products, LP v. von Drehle Corp.
In a trademark infringement dispute between Georgia-Pacific and von Drehle involving paper towels and "touchless" paper towel dispensers, the court vacated the district court's award of summary judgment in von Drehle's favor, and remanded the case for a jury determination of whether von Drehle was liable for contributory trademark infringement. Over three months later, von Drehle sought for the first time to amend its answer to include affirmative defenses of claim preclusion and issue preclusion. The court subsequently held that the district court erred in vacating the jury verdict and in awarding judgment in von Drehle's favor because: (1) von Drehle waived the preclusion defenses by failing to assert them in a timely manner; and (2) the district court erred in alternatively considering the preclusion defense sua sponte. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's award of judgment in von Drehle's favor, and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to reinstate the jury's verdict in favor of Georgia-Pacific. View "Georgia Pacific Consumer Products, LP v. von Drehle Corp." on Justia Law
Building Graphics, Inc. v. Lennar Corp.
Plaintiff, an architecture firm that specialized in designing single family homes, alleged that Lennar's architectural plans infringed on its copyrights. The court held that plaintiff did not have sufficient evidence to support a finding that there existed a reasonable possibility that Lennar had access to its copyrighted plans. Accordingly, the district court correctly concluded that as a matter of law, plaintiff lacked the evidence necessary to sustain its claims of copyright infringement. View "Building Graphics, Inc. v. Lennar Corp." on Justia Law
Tire Engineering and Distribution, LLC. v. Shandong Linglong Rubber Co.
Alpha sued defendants, foreign corporations, alleging that defendants conspired to steal its tire blueprints, produce infringing tires, and sell them to entities that had formerly purchased products from Alpha. A jury found in favor of Alpha on all claims and the district court upheld the damages award against defendants' post-trial challenges. Defendants subsequently appealed, contesting the verdict and the district court's exercise of personal jurisdiction. The court initially held that the district court properly exercised jurisdiction over defendants. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that defendants were liable to Alpha under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and for conversion under Virginia law, but the court dismissed the remaining theories of liability submitted to the jury. Accordingly, the court affirmed the jury's damages award. Finally, the court vacated the district court's award of attorneys' fees. View "Tire Engineering and Distribution, LLC. v. Shandong Linglong Rubber Co." on Justia Law
Belk, Inc. v. Meyer Corp., U.S.
This case stemmed from the dispute between Meyer and Belk regarding the design, creation, marketing, and profitability of high-end cookware. At the conclusion of trial, the district court entered judgment in accordance with the jury's verdict in favor of Meyer on its claims of trade dress infringement and unfair and deceptive trade practices. On appeal, Belk asserted that the district court erred in numerous respects, including its failure to recognize the sufficiency of the evidence to support Meyer's claims and other errors relating to evidentiary and legal rulings. The court held that Belk's failure to move pursuant to Rule 50(b) forfeited the sufficiency of the evidence challenge on appeal. Finding no error on the issues that were properly preserved, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Belk, Inc. v. Meyer Corp., U.S." on Justia Law
Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google, Inc.
Rosetta Stone appealed from an order granting summary judgment in favor of Google for Rosetta Stone's trademark infringement, contributory and vicarious trademark infringement, and trademark dilution claims. Rosetta Stone also appealed from an order dismissing its unjust enrichment claim under Virginia Law. Rosetta Stone contended that Google's policies concerning the use of trademarks as keywords and in ad text created not only a likelihood of confusion but also actual confusion, as well as misleading Internet users in purchasing counterfeit Rosetta Stone software. The court affirmed the district court's order with respect to the vicarious infringement claim and the unjust enrichment claims. The court vacated, however, the district court's order with respect to Rosetta Stone's direct infringement claim after addressing the likelihood of confusion and the functionality doctrine; contributory infringement claim where the evidence recited by the district court was sufficient to establish a question of fact as to whether Google continued to supply its services to known infringers; and dilution claim where the district court erred by omitting the question of good faith and collapsing the fair-use defense into one question. The court remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google, Inc." on Justia Law
Ray Communications, Inc. v. Clear Channel Comm., Inc., et al.
Plaintiff filed this action alleging trademark infringement under Section 32(1) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 114(1); federal unfair competition under Section 43(a) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a); unfair competition and deceptive trade practices under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), N.C.Gen. Stat. 75-1.1, thereby challenging the use of its federally-registered AGRI-NET trademark by defendants. Plaintiff appealed the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendants on its affirmative defense of laches. The court concluded that the district court erred in determining that defendants established its defense as a matter of law, and, separately, in failing to consider whether laches barred plaintiff's claim for prospective injunctive relief. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ray Communications, Inc. v. Clear Channel Comm., Inc., et al." on Justia Law