Wisser v. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Inc. (19-cv-10201); Dermansky v. Open Source Media, Inc. (19-cv-10202); DeRouw v. International Sustainable Development Institute, Inc. (19-cv-10198).

Richard Liebowitz strikes again, filing three more copyright infringement and DMCA Violation cases in Massachusetts to go along with the seven he filed earlier this month.  In these cases, as with the previous set, he alleges that copyrighted photographs were used on the defendants’ websites without license, and that digital watermarks were removed from the photographs. Each of these acts is alleged to be willful and knowing, without any further elaboration, and Liebowitz seeks actual and/or statutory damages and attorney’s fees. The cases are before Judges Boal, Saris, and Stearns.

Intellectual Ventures I, LLC et al. v. Lenovo Group Ltd. et al. (16-cv-10860).

Judge Cabell granted in part Defendants’ motion to supplement the existing protective order to permit the designation of documents as subject to a patent acquisition bar. This designation would mean that any party or attorney with access to such a document would be prohibited for acquiring patents or applications relating to the same subject matter as the patents in suit, or advising client regarding the same, for a period of two years following the conclusion of the litigation. The motion was allowed as relates to defendant EMC Corporation, but denied as to Lenovo and NetApp. Judge Cabell identified Intellectual Ventures as being in the business of “monetizing patents through litigation and licensing campaigns,” and noted that the business had acquired close to 100,000 patents in its lifetime. After deciding that Federal Circuit law governed the issue, Judge Cabell rejected the majority approach, which required the moving party to first show an unacceptable risk of inadvertent disclosure of confidential information, on a counsel-by-counsel basis, if no bar is put in place, finding that this placed an unrealistic burden on the moving party and contradicted Federal Circuit case law. Instead, he determined that the burden of demonstrating the existence or absence of risk should be on the party who possesses that information, such that once a bar is in place, it is up to the non-moving party to seek exemptions from the bar on a counsel-by-counsel basis. Applying this standard, Judge Cabell found the risk that Intellectual Ventures’ counsel would be unable to compartmentalize the confidential information of EMC when subsequently advising their client on future patent acquisition and litigation. Judge Cabell limited the information that could qualify for this designation to confidential technical information, such as source code and schematics, and excluded confidential financial information from this protection. As to the Lenovo and NetApp defendants, Judge Cabell determined that they had failed to show good cause or a significant risk of inadvertent disclosure of their confidential information, and he denied them the use of the designation.

Sanderson-MacLeod, Inc. v. Hobbs Medical, Inc. (19-cv-30013).

Sanderson-McLeod sued Hobbs Medical for patent infringement, asserting a pair of patents relating to protective tips on wire cleaning brushes. The complaint asserts willful infringement, saying that Hobbs was put on notice in August 2018. The complaint does not indicate which claims of the asserted patents are infringed, or what products are accused of infringement, which may lack sufficient detail to survive a challenge.

Pure Encapsulations, LLC v. Wind & Sky, Inc. et al. (19-cv-10127).

Pure Encapsulations sued Wind & Sky, which does business as “Wendy’s Wellness Supply” on Amazon, for Lanham Act and common law unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and tortious interference with Pure Encapsulations’ agreements with its authorized resellers. The complaint is extremely similar to the one brought against Lean Living, down to identifying the same negative on-line reviews received for the defendants’ alleged bad acts (although the negative reviews on the defendants’ site differ from those of the prior complaint). Judge Burroughs has this case.

Rice v. SAJ Technologies, Inc. (19-cv-10103); Wolman v. Glide Publishing, LLC (19-cv-10104); Adler v. Her Campus Media, LLC (19-cv-10087); Mantel v. Internet ROI, Inc. (19-cv-10092); Miller v. Gorilla Radio, LLC (19-cv-10093); Craine v. Better Publishing, LLC (19-cv-10094); Cancian v. Carroll Enterprises, Inc. (19-cv-40013).

Notorious New York copyright lawyer Richard Liebowitz filed five different copyright infringement suits in Massachusetts. Liebowitz, is well known for filing hundreds of infringement suits and seeking to extract settlements without consideration of the merits of the lawsuit or the defenses asserted against them – I have personal experience with his tactics, which amounted to filing suit without first seeking to resolve matters and then simply demanding an outrageous dollar amount without explanation or justification, using the threat of the Copyright Act’s statutory damages and attorneys’ fees provisions to drive settlement. Liebowitz had yet to actually get to summary judgment or trial on any of his cases at the time, and indeed had settled virtually all the cases he filed without getting into discovery, and often without the defendant having answered the complaint. Liebowitz has been criticized by courts on several occasions and has been sanctioned for his litigation conduct, with S.D. N.Y. Judge Kaplan identifying one such filing as frivolous, and Judge Cote labelling him a “copyright troll” and imposing monetary sanctions and required Liebowitz take ethics classes. None of this is to say that the defendants did not infringe the copyrights of the plaintiffs – as Liebowitz has noted in his defense, it is very common for people to find photographs on-line and simply cut and paste the photos into their own projects, without license or attribution. The amounts sought by Liebowitz, however, vastly exceed the royalties that the photographers would have obtained, even with attorney’s fees included. The cases are split between Judges Stearns, Kelley, Saylor, Casper, Woodlock, and Young.

Pure Encapsulations, LLC v. Lean Living, Inc. et al. (19-cv-10113) and Tsalevich et al. (19-cv-10120).

Pure Encapsulations, a Sudbury company that makes and sells non-allergenic dietary supplements, sued lean Living and Tsalevich, as well as their principals, for Lanham Act and common law unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and tortious interference with Pure Encapsulations’ agreements with its authorized resellers. Pure Encapsulations sells solely through authorized resellers and implements strict quality control requirements on their resellers. According to the complaint, the defendants operate Amazon storefronts, through which they sell Pure Encapsulation products that were purchased from authorized resellers. Pure Encapsulations asserts that the defendants mishandle these products, resulting in numerous complaints and poor on-line reviews, to the detriment of Pure Encapsulations. For example, customers complain if having received products whose safety seals had been tampered with; products with the incorrect number of pills or incorrect dosages; counterfeit products; and products that should have been, but were not, refrigerated. Pure Encapsulations seeks monetary and injunctive relief, as well as an order that the defendants take all action to remove references to Pure Encapsulation products from all sites on which defendants had listed them for sale.

Deetz Family, LLC v. Rust-Oleum Corporation (16-cv-10790).

Judge Hillman denied Deetz’s emergency motion to quash the deposition of a former Rust-Oleum employee that was noticed after the close of discovery. Rust-Oleum noticed the deposition in an attempt to obtain testimony that could be entered at trial, as the ex-employee now resides outside of the subpoena power of the court. Judge Hillman, noting that the ex-employee was more of a “friendly” witness for Rust-Oleum and that Deetz had discouraged the ex-employee from voluntarily appearing at trial, determined that the deposition was more in the guise of preserving testimony than in collecting discoverable evidence, which makes the deposition permissible despite being noticed past the close of discovery. To allow for meaningful cross-examination, Judge Hillman further ordered that Deetz would be permitted to take two hours of discovery testimony before the preservation testimony would begin.