New England IP Blog

Covering intellectual property developments in New England, and other developments that impact New England companies.

Plaintiff Torpedoed with Attorneys’ Fees for “Objectively Unreasonable” Copyright Claim

In a recent decision from the District of Connecticut, Judge Meyer awarded attorneys’ fees against a plaintiff who the court found brought an “objectively unreasonable” copyright infringement claim based on an unpublished work of non-fiction.

Plaintiff Joseph Leary’s 2013 action alleged that a book written by defendants Roy Manstan (“Manstan”) and Frederic Frese (“Frese”), and published by Westholm Publishing, LLC, infringed plaintiff’s manuscript about a Revolutionary War-era submarine called the “Turtle.” According to the Court’s earlier summary judgment order, reported by us here, plaintiff and Frese worked together in the 1970s to create a replica of the “Turtle,” and in the intervening decades plaintiff drafted a manuscript “weaving together a biography of Bushnell [the original builder of the sub], historical information about the Turtle, and plaintiff’s own experience building a replica of the Turtle.” Continue Reading

Court Makes Motion to Dismiss in Trademark Dispute Magically Disappear

A basic tenet of litigation is that the court must have personal jurisdiction over the parties to the case.  In one recent decision, an out-of-state defendant in a trademark infringement dispute could not use a motion to dismiss to escape from the reach of the District of Connecticut court.  The court found sufficient evidence to show that it had personal jurisdiction over the defendant, and that the plaintiff’s complaint had properly stated a claim for relief.

Plaintiff Communico, based in Connecticut, holds two registered U.S. trademarks—“MAGIC” and “THE MAGIC OF CUSTOMER RELATIONS”—in the field of course materials and educational services.  Defendant DecisionWise, a Utah company offering employee-training programs for customer relations and communication, later began using the marks “MAGIC” and “Engagement Magic” in connection with its services, both on its website and in the title of a published book. Continue Reading

Complaint Sheltered From Dismissal In Patent Row Over Personal Tents

A recent opinion from Judge Shea in the District of Connecticut sheds important light on the sufficiency of pleadings in declaratory judgment patent cases.  Noting that declaratory judgment actions are of particular importance in the intellectual property sphere, Judge Shea denied a motion to dismiss a complaint – even though the complaint included patents issued after the action was filed, and contained only a comparatively simple allegation of invalidity.

The case involves a dispute between Anthem, an online retailer of sporting goods and equipment, and Under the Weather, a company that develops, designs, and sells “sportspods,” or small personal tents intended for use during outdoor sporting events played in bad weather.  Initially, Under the Weather sold its products through Anthem’s online marketplace.  Ultimately, however, the parties’ business relationship fell apart; Anthem then began selling similar products made by a different manufacturer.  According to Anthem, Under the Weather subsequently threatened suit against it, alleging that the similar products Anthem was selling infringed its patents on “sportspod” devices. Continue Reading

Cold to Mootness Challenge, But Warm to Inequitable Conduct Defenses

In a recent opinion from the District of Massachusetts, Judge Woodlock provided a reading on the mootness of an inequitable conduct counterclaim, where the asserted claims of the thermometer patent at issue were previously invalidated in the same litigation.  Because the parties had already poured resources into addressing inequitable conduct as an alternate theory for patent invalidity, and because Brooklands sought attorneys’ fees on related grounds, the court did not moot the inequitable conduct counterclaim, and instead issued summary judgment of no inequitable conduct on the merits. Continue Reading

Judge Saris Opines on Copyright Infringement in 3-D Greeting Card Case

On February 22, Chief Judge Saris in the District of Massachusetts issued an opinion on a motion to dismiss implicating several complex copyright infringement issues.  The Chief Judge’s ruling analyzed whether several allegedly infringing works could be considered “substantially similar” to the copyrighted works, as required to support a claim of copyright infringement.  The “substantial similarity” analysis produced different results depending on the particular work under consideration.

The Plaintiff, LovePop, Inc. (“LovePop”), produces three-dimensional pop-up greeting cards, inspired by a paper-cutting art form called kirigami, for a variety of purposes.  The Defendant, PaperPopCards, Inc., (“PaperPop”) also sells three-dimensional pop-up greeting cards.  LovePop alleged that PaperPop “slavishly copied” each of nine LovePop designs and that six of the designs appear in instructional videos posted on PaperPop’s website.  LovePop sued for infringement of its copyrights in the designs and related videos, claiming that PaperPop had produced impermissible “derivative works” within the scope of LovePop’s exclusionary rights. Continue Reading

Electronic Return Receipt Patent Dispute Dubbed “Exceptional Case” After Summary Judgment Award

In the long-standing patent dispute between Sophos and RPost, Judge Casper recently issued the oft-sought but rarely received award of attorneys’ fees, after finding that the case was “exceptional.”

The suit began in 2013, when Sophos sought a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity against RPost’s patent, which was directed to a “system and method for verifying delivery and integrity of electronic messages.” At the end of last year, Judge Casper entered summary judgment invalidating RPost’s patent on the ground that it was anticipated by several prior art patents. Continue Reading

Scope of Brain Imaging Patent Dispute Comes into Focus

Judge Stearns recently clarified the scope of an almost five-year-old multi-district patent dispute in the District of Massachusetts.  Since early 2013, Judge Stearns has presided over NeuroGrafix’ allegations of patent infringement after ten actions encompassing dozens of defendants were consolidated in the District of Massachusetts.  In the suit relevant to Judge Stearns’ most recent order, NeuroGrafix alleged that defendant Brainlab infringed U.S. Pat. No. 5,560,360, entitled “Image Neurography and Diffusion Anisotropy Imaging.”

The Court’s recent order stemmed from a dispute over whether plaintiff NeuroGrafix disclaimed all but one asserted claim in the action.  Continue Reading

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