Banertek sued ecobee, a Canadian company, for infringing U.S. Patent 6,839,731, “System and Method for Providing Data Communication in a Network Device. Ecobee makes smart wi-fi thermostats and room sensors that, according to the complaint, communicate through a central communication device (e.g., a server) with sensors, heating/air conditioning equipment, and smartphones or tablets in a way that infringes the ‘731 patent. Direct, contributory and induced infringement are alleged. The case has been assigned to Judge Saris.
Photographer Richard Sobol sued filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler for copyright infringement. Sobol alleges that the defendants, operating as Pack Creek Productions, used a number of Sobol’s photographs of ex-Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank in their 2015 documentary film Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank. Sobol seeks destruction of all copies of the film and actual and/or statutory damages. Judge Stearns was assigned to the case.
A class action complaint was filed against Eversource Energy and Avangrid, Inc., accusing the companies of manipulating the flow, and thus price, of natural gas into New England, with a resulting increase in the price of electricity. Both companies are accused of systematically over-ordering natural gas from the Algonquin gas pipeline, the biggest supply line into the region, and then cancelling a portion of the order at the last minute, making it unavailable for other electricity generators. Eversource and Avidgrid own companies that operate as Local Distribution Companies that allow them, through legacy contracts, to adjust orders of natural gas throughout the day without penalty; it is this possibility that enables them to order more gas than they expect to use and cancel portions of the order when the gas cannot be purchased and put to use elsewhere. The two companies are alleged to be the only two companies to operate large-scale natural gas and electric companies in the area, giving them unique capabilities for this type of behavior. The complaint alleges that this practice resulted in customers paying a minimum of 20% more for electricity than they should have, costing consumers $3.6 billion over a three-year period from 2013-2016. Plaintiffs bring antitrust claims as well as unjust enrichment and unfair competition under New England states’ consumer protection laws.
DR Media Holdings and its wholly-owned subsidiary, DealerRater.com, LLC, sued Saskatchewan resident Dan Robinson, alleged to be the founder and operator of Dealeradar, Inc., for trademark infringement. DR Media’s website, www.dealerrater.com, is asserted to be a leader in the field of automotive consumer reviews on dealers and service centers, while its subsidiary, DealerRater.com, offers online reputation management and monitoring services for automotive dealers. DR media alleges that the defendant also offers reputation management and social media services for automobile dealers under the DEALERADAR name at its website, www/radaresults.com/automotive, and that it also owns the domain name www.dealeradar.com, which Mr. Robinson previously used for the business and which, since being notified of DR Media’s rights, redirects users to the current site. DR Media further alleges that Mr. Robinson falsely uses the trademark registration symbol ® in association with the DEALERADAR mark, despite not having a registration. Aside from trademark infringement, DR Media brings claims for false designation of origin, unfair competition, and violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (Ch. 93A).
Audi and Volkswagen sued PartsPlaza, Wheel2power Corp., Rennsport Imports, LLC, and several indviduals asserted to own and operate these businesses for trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin, and counterfeiting Audi and VW trademarks “in nearly every facet of their business operations” as well as cyberpiracy. According to the plaintiffs, the defendants manufacture, import and sell aftermarket parts, such as grille covers, cigarette lighters, and other automotive badging bearing Audi or Volkswagen registered marks. Moreover, at least one of the defendants is alleged to do business as “DubStop Imports” and “Dubstop International” and to use domain names including the phrase “dubstop,” infringing on Volkswagen’s “V-DUB” mark and form the basis of the anticybersquatting/cyberpiracy count.
Global Protection, a condom and reproductive health aid manufacturer, sued Sooka for declaratory relief relating to ownership of intellectual property connected with prophylactic dams. According to the complaint, Global purchased the assets of Glyde Health Pty. Ltd. in 2015, including the rights to Australia’s Glyde Health’s prophylactic dams, the associated trademarks and goodwill, and associated 510(k) Premarket Notification FDA submissions and supporting documentation. The FDA’s Premarket Notifications had been issued in the name of Glyde Health’s former U.S. distributer, Glyde USA, Inc., who is alleged to have transferred them to Glyde Health in 2014. Sooka, a customer of Glyde USA who resold Glyde products, entered into an agreement with Glyde Health to distribute condoms, but not prophylactic dams. Over the course of several months in 2015, Sooka sought to purchase rights to the FDA Premarket Notifications from Glyde Health as part of a bid to obtain North American rights to the product; the negotiations fell through, however, and Global purchased U.S. rights to the product in October 2015. At that point, Sooka claimed that it had acquired the rights to the product directly from Glyde USA prior to the transfer to Glyde Health. Both parties filed for trademark protection on SHEER GLYDE DAMS, with Sooka receiving the registration. The suit was filed after Global received a cease and desist letter from Sooka. Global seeks a declaration that it is the sole owner of the Premarket Notification, that it received the legal rights to the SHEER GLYDE DAM mark, and that it has not infringed any valid Sooka mark, as well as findings of unfair competition, unjust enrichment, and conversion.
The Literacy Lab (“TLL”), a nonprofit organization that provides literacy services to low income students, filed a declaratory judgment action, seeking a declaration that it is not infringing copyright in Fastbridge’s earlyReading and CMBreading assessments. TLL had previously been served a subpoena in a Minnesota suit brought by the defendants against a nonprofit partner of TLL who provided TLL with the Reading Corps program and model that is accused in the Minnesota suit, creating declaratory judgment jurisdiction. TLL asserts that the reading assessment tools are not protectable under copyright law because any such copyright would encompass the underlying ideas rather than the form of expression and under the merger doctrine.