Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Intellectual Property
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A graphic designer, Cynthia Foss, filed a lawsuit against Marvic, Inc., Brady-Built, Inc., and Charter Communications, alleging copyright infringement. Foss claimed that Marvic and Brady-Built used a marketing brochure she created without her permission. She also sought a declaratory judgment that Charter Communications was not eligible for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe-harbor defense.Previously, Foss had filed a similar lawsuit against Marvic alone, which was dismissed because she had not registered her copyright before filing the suit. This dismissal was affirmed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals. In the current case, the District Court dismissed Foss's copyright infringement claim against Marvic and Brady-Built on the grounds of claim preclusion, citing the dismissal of her earlier lawsuit. The court also dismissed her claim against Charter Communications for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a plausible claim.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the dismissal of the copyright infringement claim against Marvic and Brady-Built. The court found that the dismissal of Foss's earlier lawsuit was not a "final judgment on the merits" for claim preclusion purposes. However, the court affirmed the dismissal of Foss's claim against Charter Communications for lack of jurisdiction. The court also vacated the District Court's alternative merits-based dismissal of Foss's claim against Charter Communications. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Foss v. Marvic" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, Virginia Cora Ward, the administratrix of the estate of Edmund Edward Ward, appealed against the verdict in favor of Dr. Ernst J. Schaefer. Edmund Edward Ward, who suffered from a rare genetic deficiency that caused his body to refrain from producing a critical blood enzyme, was a subject of experimental enzyme therapy developed by Dr. Schaefer and others. The plaintiff claimed that Dr. Schaefer fraudulently induced Ward to participate in the experimental protocol and failed to obtain informed consent for his participation. However, the jury disagreed and returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Schaefer.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the lower court. The appellate court found that the district court did not err in excluding the patent for the experimental drug from evidence, as its probative value was substantially outweighed by the potential for confusion. Further, the court found no error in the jury instructions provided by the district court regarding the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. The court concluded that the jury instructions sufficiently conveyed the legal standards to be applied, and the plaintiff failed to show that the occurrence of a medical condition during the experimental protocol implied that the protocol caused the condition. View "Ward v. Schaefer" on Justia Law

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In this copyright action involving ownership rights to the board game, "The Game of Life," the First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court denying attorney's fees sought from the unsuccessful plaintiffs, holding that the district court did not err in denying fees and that this Court declines to award fees for the appeal.This case stemmed from a dispute between Rueben Klamer, a toy developer who came up with the initial concept of the game before it was introduced in 1960 by the Milton Bradley Company, and Bill Markham, a game designer that Klamer recruited to design and create the actual game prototype. Markham's successors-in-interest sued Klamer and other defendants seeking a declaration that they possessed "termination rights" under the 1976 Copyright Act. The district court granted judgment for Defendants but denied fees. Defendants appealed and moved for appellate attorney's fees. The First Circuit denied relief, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying fees; and (2) this Court declines to award fees for the appeal. View "Markham Concepts, Inc. v. Hasbro, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment dismissing on claim preclusion grounds Plaintiff's claims against Eastern States Exposition alleging violations of federal copyright infringement law and the U.S. Visual Artists Rights Act, holding that the district court erred.On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the claim preclusive order gave claim preclusive effect to the dismissal in a prior action that she brought even where the dismissal rested on several grounds, not all of which would on their own render the dismissal claim preclusive. In support of her claim, Plaintiff argued that federal res judicata law recognizes the "alternative-determinations" doctrine. The First Circuit vacated the judgment dismissing the claims at issue, holding (1) the assertedly preclusive dismissal rested on one ground that, on its own, would not allow the dismissal to be claim preclusive, even though the dismissal also rested on two counts that could have; and (2) federal res judiata law recognizes the alternative-determinations doctrine, which strips a dismissal of claim preclusive effect if the dismissal rests on multiple grounds, not all of which would on their own render the dismissal claim preclusive, and the doctrine applied in this case. View "Foss v. Eastern States Exposition" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Amyndas Pharmaceuticals, S.A.'s claims against Zealand Pharma A/S and vacated the dismissal of Amyndas's claims against Zealand Pharma U.S., Inc., holding that the district court erred in dismissing Amyndas's claims against Zealand Pharma U.S.When Amyndas was considering separate joint ventures with Zealand Pharma and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. it shared trade secrets before understanding that neither of the joint ventures would materialize. Zealand Pharma and Zealand US, its newly established affiliate, subsequently announced a partnership with Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Amyndas sued for misappropriation of trade secrets and other confidential information. The district court (1) dismissed Amyndas's claims against Zealand Pharma on the ground that Amyndas was required to litigate those claims in Denmark; and (2) dismissed Amyndas's claims against Zealand US for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit vacated in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the district court (1) correctly dismissed Amyndas's claims against Zealand Pharma; and (2) erred in concluding that Amyndas's claims against Zealand US were futile. View "Amyndas Pharmaceuticals, S.A. v. Zealand Pharma A/S" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC improperly submitted a patent for listing in "the Orange Book" and that Sanofi was potentially liable under the antitrust laws to drug purchasers who were allegedly harmed by the effective extension of Sanofi's monopoly.At the center of this appeal was a publication maintained by the FDA called Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, known as "the Orange Book," which lists patents said by their owners to claim FDA-approved drugs. When a patent is listed in the Orange Book the patent-owning drug manufacturer has the ability to trigger an automatic, thirty-month suspension of the FDA's approval of a competing product. Plaintiffs alleged that Sanofi artificially restricted competition in the market for insulin glargine by improperly listing a certain patent in the Orange Book, thereby delaying competition in the insulin glargine market and resulting in inflated prices. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' Sherman Act claims. The First Circuit vacated the dismissal as to Sanofi's alleged improper Orange Book listing of the patent, holding that Sanofi improperly submitted the patent for listing in the Orange Book and that Sanofi potentially liable under the antitrust laws to drug purchasers who were allegedly harmed by the effective extension of Sanofi's monopoly. View "In re Lantus Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary (collectively, Amphastar) and Sandoz Inc. were competitors in the U.S. market for generic enoxaparin, an anticoagulant. Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. served as Sandoz’s contract laboratory. Amphastar filed a complaint alleging antitrust violations by Sandoz and Momenta based on Defendants’ alleged misrepresentations to the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a private standard-setting organization charged with ensuring the quality of drugs. Defendants brought an infringement suit against Amphastar, resulting in a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction prohibiting Amphastar from selling enoxaparin. The preliminary injunction was later vacated, but it did prevent Amphastar from selling its generic enoxaparin for approximately three months. Amphastar then filed this suit under the Sherman Act seeking damages for lost profits during the pendency of the TRO and injunction. The district court dismissed the complaint under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, which immunizes good-faith petition of government entities from antitrust liability. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court erred in applying Noerr-Pennington. Remanded for the district court to consider Defendants’ other arguments in the first instance. View "Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc v. Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff entered an original song and music video to a variety of companies affiliated with Sony Music Entertainment (Sony) as part of a songwriting contest sponsored by Sony. Plaintiff later sued Sony alleging contract and intellectual property claims. The district court entered an order compelling arbitration and dismissed Plaintiff’s case with prejudice, concluding that the claims were subject to mandatory arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act and that Plaintiff failed to make a cognizable claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred in ruling that he failed to allege sufficient facts to support his claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because the district court’s rulings that Plaintiff’s claims were subject to mandatory arbitration provided an independent basis for dismissing his claims, the Court did not need to address Plaintiff’s challenge to the district court’s decision to dismiss his complaint on factual sufficiency grounds. View "Cortes-Ramos v. Sony Corp. of America" on Justia Law

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Norbero Colon Lorenzana (Colon) was working for South American Restaurant Corporation (SARCO), a franchisee and operator of Church’s Chicken locations in Puerto Rico, when he suggested to his superiors the concept for a new chicken sandwich that could be included on Church’s menu. Church’s subsequently began selling the item, which it called the “Pechu Sandwich.” SARCO subsequently received a certificate of registration from the Puerto Rico Department of State trademarking the name “Pechu Sandwich” and also received a federal trademark registration for the name “Pechusandwich.” Colon brought suit alleging violations of the Lanham Act and Copyright Act. SARCO filed a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), which the district court granted. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly determined that neither the name “Pechu Sandwich” nor the recipe are eligible for copyright protection; and (2) that Colon failed to sufficiently plead that SARCO committed fraud in the procurement of a federal trademark for the Pechu Sandwich. View "Colon-Lorenzana v. South American Restaurants Corp." on Justia Law

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Biolitec, Inc. (BI), a U.S.-based subsidiary of Biolitec AG (BAG), sold medical equipment to Plaintiff AngioDynamics, Inc. (ADI) and agreed to indemnify ADI or any patent infringement claims. Patent infringement claims were subsequently brought against ADI, and ADI settled the claims. In a separate lawsuit, ADI obtained a $23 million judgment against BI under the indemnification clause. Attempting to secure payment on that judgment, ADI sued BAG, BI, and other related entities (collectively, Defendants) on claims including corporate veil-piercing and violation of the Massachusetts Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act MUFTA), alleging that BAG looted more than $18 million from BI to move BI's assets beyond reach. The district court granted ADI a preliminary injunction barring Defendants from carrying out the proposed downstream merger of BAG with its Austrian subsidiary and from transferring any ownership interest the held in any other defendant. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) as a matter of law, preliminary injunctive relief was not barred in this case; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that ADI had demonstrated likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm. View "AngioDynamics, Inc. v. Biolitec AG" on Justia Law