Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff, a general partnership comprised of two musicians, filed suit alleging copyright infringement against defendant, Lakewood Church, over the use of a song entitled, "Signaling Through the Flames." Plaintiff later voluntarily dismissed the complaint without prejudice. Subsequently, plaintiff filed a motion to vacate its voluntary dismissal under Rule 60(b), which the district court granted. Defendant appealed. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that a voluntary dismissal without prejudice was a final proceeding under Rule 60(b) and the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case. View "Yesh Music, et al. v. Lakewood Church, et al." on Justia Law

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Wellogix sued Accenture and others, alleging that they misappropriated its trade secrets regarding software that allowed oil companies to plan, procure, and pay for complex services online. The jury returned a verdict for Wellogix, awarding compensatory and punitive damages. Accenture appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Accenture's motion for a judgment as a matter of law where reasonable jurors could find that Accenture misappropriated Wellogix's trade secrets and that there was sufficient evidence to support the compensatory damages award; by denying Accenture's motion for a new trial where the district court allowed Wellogix's software expert's testimony and allowed Wellogix to introduce into evidence patent-related documents; and by refusing to set aside the punitive damages award where there was sufficient evidence and testimony to support the jury's "malice" finding and the award was not grossly excessive. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Wellogix, Inc. v. Accenture, L.L.P." on Justia Law

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Defendant challenged his conviction for conspiracy to steal trade secrets and perjury. The Government contended that defendant, who worked on research and development, conspired to steal Dow Chemical's trade secrets regarding a type of chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) and sell that information to Chinese companies for his own profit. The principal issue on appeal concerned the propriety of the court's ruling excluding the testimony of defendant's engineering expert. Because of the witness's training and experience as a chemical engineer and his broad experience in chemical plants, the court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in excluding his opinion testimony related to the manufacturing of CPE. However, given the overwhelming evidence that defendant and his co-conspirators stole trade secrets and that defendant believed he was stealing trade secrets, the court concluded that the exclusion of the witness's testimony did not affect the verdict. Further, there was sufficient evidence to support defendant's perjury conviction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Liu" on Justia Law

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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. View "Nat'l Business Forms v. Phillips, et al." on Justia Law

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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. View "Bohnsack v. Varco, L.P." on Justia Law