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, 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.
Ecobee sued three Amazon sellers, accusing each of obtaining and reselling ecobee products bearing the ecobee trademark without authorization. Ecobee makes a number of automated, “smart” home control products (thermostats, light controls, and the like) which it sells only through authorized resellers. By contract, these resellers are prohibited from selling to anyone other than consumers. Ecobee asserts that the Amazon sellers obtained ecobee products either through fraud or by tortuously interfering with ecobee’s contracts with its authorized resellers. In addition to trademark and tortious interference claims, ecobee asserts unfair competition and false designation of origin. This is the second such case brought by ecobee in Massachusetts in the past several months. Judge Saris has the case.
Audio company Kicker sued Techtronics, theXmarketing.com, and Amazon resellers Techtronics Inc. and Amazing Dealzzz, accusing the defendants of improperly selling Kicker products, using Kicker trademarks, and altering or removing serial numbers from Kicker products that they were selling. Kicker uses the registered KICKER mark on audio components, primarily speakers, that it sells through authorized resellers. It asserts that the defendants, who are not authorized resellers, are nonetheless selling Kicker speakers bearing the KICKER trademark. The defendants did not receive Kicker training in proper installation of its speakers, and speakers sold through defendants do not come with Kicker’s warranty. Thus, according to the complaint, the defendants’ KICKER goods are materially different than those of Kicker and its authorized resellers. Kicker brings claims of trademark infringement, tortious interference with business relations in connection with defendants receiving inventories of Kicker speakers from authorized Kicker dealers, and unfair competition. It is not clear why Kicker chose to file suit in Massachusetts, given that it is an Oklahoma corporation and it asserts that defendants are located in California. The case is before Judge Zobel.
Magnesium Elektron (“MgE”) filed suit against Applied Chemistries, Inc., Brian St. Pierre and Mark Pellerin, accusing them of misappropriating trade secret processes for making etching additives used in the graphic arts industry. According to the complaint, St. Pierre and Pellerin both worked for U.S. Fluids, MgE’s contract manufacturer of etching additives, where they were exposed to the trade secret technology. Each executed a non-disclosure agreement with U.S. Fluids, and each was responsible at some point during their employment with maintaining the secrecy of the technology. St. Pierre now runs Applied Chemistries, who recently began marketing chemicals alleged to be substantially the same as MgE’s proprietary additives, and Pellerin is employed by Applied Chemistries. MgE further asserts that Applied Chemistries is selling photo engraving developer solutions under MgE’s RED TOP and HYRDO-SOLVE trademarks. MgE brings trade secret claims under the federal DTSA and the new Massachusetts trade secrets statute, as well as trademark infringement and unfair competition claims, and claims under 93A.
F2VS accuses alarm company AES of infringing three patents relating to wireless communications networks. Specifically, F2VS asserts that AES’s products and services that incorporate its “ IntelliNet” technology infringe at least one claim of each of the three patents. Based on the limited information that can be found on the company, it appears that F2VS is a non-practicing entity that began asserting the three patents within the last two years.
Texas’ RICPI sued Simoco, a UK company, accusing Simoco of infringing its US 7,333,806 patent, titled “System and Method for Enabling Two-Way Radio Communications over a Computer Network.” RICPI asserts that Simoco’s XD Solutions digital two-way radio products infringe both system and method claims of the ‘806 patent both directly and through inducement. The case is assigned to Judge Talwani.