Music licensing entity BMI sued Sterling, MA’s Black Sheep Tavern in the Worcester Division of the District of Massachusetts, accusing Black Sheep of infringing a number of music copyrights though live and DJ performances that take place at the Tavern. BMI asserts that it contacted Black Sheep Tavern over 80 times seeking to have the Tavern take a license prior to filing suit. BMI seeks statutory damages and attorneys’ fees as well as injunctive relief.
Ex-Patriot Matt Chatham and his wife sued their former builder Daniel Lewis and his company, Canterbury Ventures in 2017, accusing Lewis of seeking to sell a house built using Chatham’s copyrighted custom architectural plans to a third party after failing to complete construction for the Chathams and then unilaterally terminating their agreement. Prior to the close of discovery, the Defendants moved for summary judgment on the copyright, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims, and further that specific performance was not available. The motion was argued before Magistrate Judge Cabell, who yesterday recommended denial the Defendants’ motion in its entirety. Defendants had argued that the copyright claim should fail because Chatham never reserved his copyrights when giving the plans to Lewis, and therefore could no longer claim copyright protection. Judge Cabell, noting that copyright vests at the time of creation, found this argument to have no legal consequences, because silence does not affect the validity of an existing copyright. He found that the First Sale Doctrine does not apply, because while the Chathams may have provided a copy of the plans and authorized the use to build the Chatham’s home, they did not sell the copyrighted article. Finally he determined that, while the Chathams’ Purchase and Sale Agreement licensed Canterbury to use the plans to construct the house, there was a factual dispute as to whether the scope of the license permitted construction of the house for sale to anyone other than the Chathams. On the contract issue, Judge Cabell determined that there was a factual dispute as to whether the P&S Agreement terminated as of the last closing date identified in the Agreement or whether there was an oral agreement to extend the Agreement to allow the home to be completed and sold to the Chathams. He noted that correspondence from counsel for the Defendants following the purported termination stating that “Canterbury continues to perform construction on the Property in good faith and in accordance with the P&S” and the fact that Canterbury continued working on the house in consultation with the Chathams following the purported termination date provided “strong if not dispositive evidence” that the parties had agreed to extend. Finally, he denied the motion with respect to the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and specific performance as they were reliant on success in the copyright and contract parts of the motion.
I and others at my firm, along with Paul Mordarski and Jordan Carroll of Morrissey, Hawkins & Lynch, represent the Chathams in this matter, and naturally, we are quite pleased with the result.
Judge Sorokin denied Covidien’s emergency motion to continue the bench trial date, currently scheduled to begin on September 23, concerning Ethicon’s seeking of a declaration that its Enseal® X1 surgical tool does not infringe several Covidien patents. Covidien sought the continuance because its technical expert had undergone an unexpected heart surgery; Ethicon opposed on the grounds that he was but one of a dozen experts, that the ailing expert was to testify only as to a single issue, and that all of the witnesses had made travel and work arrangements to be in Boston for the trial. Judge Sorokin apparently agreed with Ethicon; rather than move the trial entirely, he ordered that it go forward with Covidien permitted to submit the expert’s report and a proffer of his expected testimony. Once the expert has recovered, Judge Sorokin will take his testimony and consider whether any further testimony from any party is thereby necessitated.
Globys sued Sorriso, asserting that Sorriso’s Smart Suite infringes a pair of patents relating to computer-implemented digital invoicing. A review of the exemplary claims in the complaint suggests that the patents may have an Alice eligibility problem; claim 1 of U.S. 7,996,310, the first of the asserted patents, essentially recites a “computer-implemented method” comprising receiving billing information that includes a plurality of individual transactions; receiving selection of parameters for customizing an analysis of the billing information; analyzing the billing information using the parameters provided; and producing a report. The exemplary ”computing system” claim 1 of the second patent, a continuation of the ‘310 patent, includes no meaningful technical limitations, reciting an “analysis engine” and “user interface” as the sole components and describing the system in functional terms. The patent was filed in 2000 and issued in 2011, several years before the Supreme Court’s June 19, 2014 Alice decision on patent eligibility. While the second patent, U.S. 8,930,252, issued in January 2015, prosecution closed and a notice of allowance was sent in April 2014, again prior to the Alice decision.
Enchanted accuses Duracell’s “Powerbank” of infringing U.S. Patent 6,194,871, directed to charge and discharge control circuits for secondary batteries that prevent overcharge and overdischarge of the batteries. According to the complaint, the patented technology solves the problem of preventing a battery from being erroneously charged by another battery pack connected in parallel while also permitting recharge of a battery even when the voltage is completely discharged. The Powerbank products are portable chargers for USB devices and smartphones, and Duracell lists overcharge protection as one of the Powerbank’s safety features. Enchanted, a Plano, Texas corporation (and thus presumptively a Non-Practicing Entity), extensively pleads personal jurisdiction, based on Duracell’s having a principal place of business in Massachusetts, regularly conducting business and deriving substantial revenue in Massachusetts, offering products online to customers in Massachusetts, systematically conducting business in Massachusetts (including the accused activities), and having a regular and established presence in the district. The patent has changed hands a number of times, and was last assigned to Enchanted by Huawei Technologies. Enchanted seeks injunctive relief as well as monetary damages; injunctive relief may be hard to come by, however, as the patent claims priority to a December 3, 1999 Japanese application and will thus almost certainly expire prior to a decision in the litigation.
Hungarian company Graphisoft, along with its Waltham division, filed suit against Andr Roy Engineers Group, accusing it of infringing the copyright in Graphisoft’s ARCHICAD®584 and ARCHICAD®248 building information modeling software. Graphisoft embedded piracy detection and reporting security software in its ACHICAD code, so that it would be informed when the verification technology is hacked or bypassed. They assert that this software has indicated that Andr Roy is using unlicensed ARCHICAD software. Graphisoft says that Andr Roy never responded to cease and desist letters beyond a simple denial. Judge Talwani has the case.
Judge Saylor granted in part and denied in part Abiomed’s motion to strike Maquet’s second supplemental non-infringement contentions. Maquet, who asserted patent infringement counterclaims, sought to add a claim under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f), which prohibits the export of all or a substantial portion of a patented invention for assembly abroad. Judge Saylor struck this part of the contentions, finding that Maquet’s counterclaims did not refer to 271(f) and made no factual allegations from which a 271(f) claim could be inferred, and thus Maquet should follow the requirements of F.R.C.P. 15. Judge Saylor refused to strike portions of the second supplemental contentions that added new infringement contentions concerning the “guide mechanism” term. He noted that, through inadvertence, his scheduling order did not literally prevent the service of supplemental contentions, and accepted Maquet’s assertion that the amendment was based on “newly adduced” evidence not previously available to it. Maquet further assured the Court that the amendment narrows the asserted claims and “elaborates and refines” their infringement theory. He did ban any further amendment of the infringement contentions.