Justia Corporate Compliance Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Intellectual Property
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This case involved a claim for breach of the fiduciary duty of loyalty that stemmed from a dispute regarding assets of IFCT, a now defunct tech startup company founded by Stephen Marsh to develop potentially revolutionary micro fuel cell technology. The crux of plaintiff's argument was that the Director Defendants conducted an unfair and disloyal bidding process, whereby they favored the Echelon-backed bid and refused to follow up on or negotiate with other superior bids. As a result, IFCT missed its chance to sell its assets at the peak of their value and was forced to sell its assets at a discount in bankruptcy. Given that the Director Defendants have conceded the applicability of entire fairness review and given the fact-intensive nature of that review, the court found that the Director Defendants have not met their burden at this stage to achieve summary judgment against Encite. The court also found that material facts remained as to the liability of Echelon for aiding and abetting the alleged breach of fiduciary duty by the Director Defendants and therefore, the court denied Echelon's motion for summary judgment on that claim. The court finally found that material facts also remained regarding Echelon's third party claims, and so denied Marsh's motion for summary judgment. View "Encite, LLC v. Soni, et al." on Justia Law

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This post-trial opinion determined the voting membership of GnB, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. The parties disputed whether Firehouse Gallery, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, was a voting member of GnB. The parties also disputed whether GnB possessed an exclusive license to use the first-tier, generic domain name candles.com; held an option to purchase candles.com; and owned other assorted domain names relating to the candles business. The court held that Firehouse and plaintiff, who controlled GnB, each held a 50% voting membership interest; GnB owned the exclusive license and option to purchase candles.com and the other domain names; and plaintiff and defendant, the current principal of Firehouse, each breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty to GnB and must account for the profits and personal benefits they received. The court held that defendant was not otherwise liable to GnB or plaintiff. Because all of the litigants engaged in misconduct that could support fee-shifting, the doctrine of unclean hands applied with particular salience. Accordingly, the court held that all parties would bear their own fees and costs. View "Phillips v. Hove, et al." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from numerous trademark and unfair competition claims over the name "Patsy's." Patsy's Italian Restaurant appealed, and Patsy's Pizzeria cross-appealed, from a judgment of the district court after a jury trial on claims brought pursuant to trademark and unfair competition law. The court upheld the district court's jury instructions; affirmed the district court's refusal to grant a new trial on the issue of whether Patsy's Pizzeria made fraudulent statements to the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as its refusal to vacate the jury's verdict that Patsy's Italian Restaurant did not fraudulently obtain its trademark registrations; affirmed the district court's refusal to reinstate Patsy's Pizzeria's trademark registrations; and upheld the district court's denial of attorneys' fees and injunctive relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Patsy's Italian Restaurant, Inc., et al. v. Banas, et al." on Justia Law

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FICO brought suit against three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union, as well as against VantageScore, the credit bureaus' joint venture. The suit alleged antitrust, trademark infringement, false-advertising, and other claims. FICO, Experian, and VantageScore appealed from the district court's judgment. The court held that FICO failed to demonstrate that it had suffered any antitrust injury that would entitle it to seek damages under section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 12-27, and FICO failed to demonstrate the threat of an immediate injury that might support injunctive relief under section 16. The court also held that there was no genuine issue of material fact that consumers in this market immediately understood "300-850" to describe the qualities and characteristics of FICO's credit score and therefore, the district court did not err in finding the mark to be merely descriptive. The court further held that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to determine that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) relied on FICO's false representation in deciding whether to issue the "300-850" trademark registration. The court agreed with the district court that VantageScore was not a licensee and therefore was not estopped from challenging the mark under either theory of agency or equity. The court finally held that FICO's false advertising claims were properly dismissed and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for attorneys' fees. View "Fair Isaac Corp., et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in St. Louis, Missouri, sued appellee, a Spanish corporation with its principal place of business in Barcelona, Spain, for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. At issue was whether the district court properly granted appellee's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, declined to reach the forum-non-conveniens argument, and denied the motion for failure to state a claim. The court held that the proper application of the five-factor test set forth in Johnson v. Arden supported hearing the present case in Missouri. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's decision to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and remanded for further proceedings. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it would address the forum-non-conveniens argument because no additional facts were needed to resolve the issue. The court held, however, that because the plaintiff's choice of forum was entitled to significant deference and because the public-interest factors favor deciding the case in Missouri, the court did not find that the present case presented the exceptional circumstances necessary to invoke the doctrine of forum-non-conveniens. Therefore, the court denied appellee's motion to dismiss based on this ground. The court further held that in denying appellee's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the district court did so without analysis and without prejudice. Therefore, the issue should be left for the district court to consider on remand. View "KV Pharmaceutical Co. v. J. Uriach & CIA" on Justia Law