Bassett v. Jensen et al. (18-cv-10576).

Judge Saris denied Bassett’s motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the release of the accused films. The case was brought by Leah Bassett, a Martha’s Vineyard artist who rented her home to the defendants, who used the home as the setting for pornographic films. Bassett asserted copyright infringement, base don her original artworks in the house being displayed in the films. She filed suit nearly three years after discovering that the defendants were filming at her house, and first sought preliminary injunctive relief nearly eighteen months after filing suit. Judge Saris determined that Bassett could not make the requisite element of irreparable harm. She cited several reasons – Bassett had disavowed claims for actual damages and sought only statutory damages; all of the copyrighted articles were personal belongings not for sale, eliminating many of the categories of irreparable harm (reputational harm, tarnishment, dilution) that might exist for items that were the subject of commerce; the minimal use of the copyrighted material in the films; and Bassett’s delays in filing suit and then seeking the injunction, which undercuts the notion of irreparable harm. Judge Saris further noted that the Defendants had agreed to voluntarily remove all the films and photographs shot in Bassett’s home from distribution, leaving only bootleg copies that an injunction would not address in distribution.

Boston Heart Diagnostics Corp. v. GeneAlign, LLC (17-cv-11412).

Judge Talwani found GeneAlign in default after it failed to respond to Boston Heart Diagnostic’s patent infringement complaint and entered an injunction barring GeneAlign from making, using, selling or offering for sale any SLCO1B1 test. She further awarded BHD costs and fees totaling $15,641.49 after determining, taking the allegations of the complaint as true, that the case was exceptional under 35 U.S.C. § 285.

Crane Security Technologies, Inc. et al. v. Rolling Optics AB (14-cv-12428).

Following a trial in which Rolling Optics was found to have willfully induced infringement of several Crane patents, Judge Sorokin ruled on a number of post-trial motions. He denied Rolling Optics’ motion for judgment of no inducement and lack of notice as a matter of law, finding the motion a mere rehashing of the motion for summary judgment that was previously denied. He likewise denied Rolling Optics’ motion for JMOL that certain claims were anticipated, finding the jury’s determination on the credibility of the parties’ experts dispositive. Judge Sorokin denied Crane’s motion for attorneys fees under 35 USC 285, finding that Rolling Optics’ litigation conduct was not exceptional, particularly given that the injunction that would likely result from losing would jeopardize Rolling Optics’ very existence. He awarded Crane treble damages, finding that Crane had demonstrated that Rolling Optics had copied their products with extensive knowledge of Crane’s patent portfolio and that Rolling Optics took no steps to ensure that they were not infringing valid patent claims – indeed, Rolling Optics continued shipping products into the United States seven months after it had been advised by its legal team to cease doing so. Finally, Judge Sorokin entered a permanent injunction, finding that Rolling Optics was directly competitive to Crane such that continued infringement would result in harms that could not be adequately remedied at law.

The Atomic Café et al. v. Roy et al. (17-cv-11927).

Following up on Friday’s post, Judge Talwani’s Order enjoined the use of The Atomic Café’s trademarks in written and electronic material, but denied the injunction without prejudice with respect to retail sales of Plaintiff’s prepackaged coffee beans, based on Plaintiff’s assertion at argument that it was not seeking to enjoin this use of the mark.

Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. at al. v. Covidien LP et al. (16-cv-12556).

Judge Sorokin denied Covidien’s motion for a preliminary injunction that sought to bar sales of Ethicon’s Enseal® X1 Large Jaw Device, a surgical tool that allows a surgeon to grasp a vessel between two jaws, apply energy to the jaws to for a seal, and cut the now-sealed vessel. Prior to the introduction of this device, Covidien was the market leader in such instruments that used bipolar (or radiofrequency) energy to seal the vessel.  Since its introduction in March 2017, the X1 Large Jaw has generated $7.8 million in revenue.  Covidien contends that the X1 Large Jaw infringes U.S. Patent No. 8,241,284, which claims vessel sealing devices having non-conductive stop members that maintain a constant distance between the jaw surfaces along the length of the jaws.

Because Ethicon raised a substantial question of non-infringement, Covidien was unable to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. Of interest, while both parties sought to have the claim terms given their plain and ordinary meaning, the parties disagreed as to what that meaning was, with Ethicon urging a meaning that took its product out of infringement.  Judge Sorokin determined that “Ethicon’s proposed meanings are at least sufficiently persuasive to raise a substantial question regarding the ‘plain and ordinary’ meanings of the relevant terms.”  In addition, Judge Sorokin found that Covidien failed to show a nexus between the claimed elements of the device and the success of the X1 Large Jaw.  Ethicon provided evidence that sales of the X1 device were driven by factors, such as better ergonomics, ease of use, availability of sealing separately from cutting, and price, that were unrelated to the claimed elements.   Accordingly, Covidien did not show irreparable harm “resulting from the alleged infringement.”

The Life Is Good Company v. MyLocker.com, LLC et al. (17-cv-11911).

The Life Is Good Company sued MyLocker.com, Namecheap, Inc., and RamNode LLC for infringing its LIFE IS GOOD trademark, as well as trademark registrations on the “Jake” and “Jackie” symbols that cover the cartoon male and female figures that appear on Life Is Good clothing and merchandise.

LIG alleges that the defendants provide services to the website www.lifeisgoodshirt.com that utilizes LIG’s trademarks and through which counterfeit LIG merchandise can be purchased.  Specifically, LIG alleges that MyLocker provides the software that allowed the LIFEISGOODSHIRT operator to set up the website, process payments, and fulfill orders; Namecheap provides website/server management services; and RamNode hosts the website. (Notably, LIG is not suing the actual operator of the website/maker of the counterfeit goods, and does not identify such entity in its complaint).  LIG further alleges that the latter two defendants failed to respond to complaints from LIG and thus cannot show that they have complaint procedures that meet the requirements of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provisions.  LIG also brings counts for unfair competition and passing off, contributory trademark infringement, and counterfeiting, the last of which provides for statutory damages.  In addition to the complaint, LIG moved for a preliminary injunction.  Note – as of this morning, the LIFEISGOODSHIRT website appears to have been taken down.

Oxford Immunotec Ltd. v. Qiagen, Inc. et al. (15-13124).

Judge Gorton denied Oxford’s motion for a preliminary injunction on sales of Qiagen’s QFT-Plus one-tube option for the diagnosis of tuberculosis. According to the opinion, tuberculosis is detected in two ways – through skin tests or through in vitro blood test known as interferon gamma release assay (“IGRA”).  Currently, Oxford and Qiagen offer the only IGRA’s available in the United States.  Oxford’s test utilizes a single, standardized tube, while Qiagen’s test requires multiple specialized tubes.  Qiagen’s next generation product contains a single tube option that Oxford believes would infringe its patents.  Oxford sought to prevent the sale of the next generation product, scheduled for launch in October 2017, until after a trial on the infringement claims.  The asserted claims have already survived an Alice-based motion to dismiss, as well as five different petitions, all rejected, for inter partes review on obviousness grounds, and at Markman, all claims were construed on Oxford’s favor.

In considering the preliminary injunction factors, Judge Gorton determined that the claims were likely to be directed to patentable subject matter, because they included non-naturally-occurring peptides. He found that Oxford was likely to succeed in proving the patents valid over the prior art because, although Qiagen could show that researchers were exploring the use of the specific peptide, this showed only that it was “obvious to try” which does not rise to a finding of obviousness.  He also noted that Qiagen’s arguments to this effect had previously been rejected by the PTO in its denial of the inter partes petitions.  Judge Gorton found that Oxford would also likely prevail on a written description challenge, as well as on infringement by the Qiagen product.  He determined, however, that Oxford had not made a “clear showing” that substantial and immediate harm is likely in the absence of an injunction.  This was due both to the delay between finding out in January that Qiagen was about to apply for FDA approval and its filing the motion for preliminary injunction in August and because Oxford had not shown that money damages would be insufficient – “evidence of potential lost sales alone does not demonstrate irreparable harm.”  This factor also weighed heavily in the balance of hardship consideration, offsetting the hardships that Oxford, a one-product company, would face in allowing Qiagen to continue selling, and ultimately led to denial of the motion.

Cengage Learning, Inc. et al. v. Does 1-11 (15-cv-11577).

Judge Wolf entered default judgment in favor of Cengage, finding the well-pled facts of the complaint showed that defendents sold counterfeit versions of Cengage’s copyrighted textbooks bearing Cengage’s trademarks. Most of the defendants failed to answer the complaint, and the one who did file an answer then failed to respond to a motion for preliminary injunction and ceased responding to its counsel.  Judge Wolf went on to determine that the infringement was willful, based on the defendants’ use of false names and addresses to register online storefronts on Amazon.com and on their failure to appear.  Maximum statutory damages for both trademark and copyright infringement totaling $2.9 million were awarded, and a permanent injunction was entered.

Live Nation Merchandise v. John Does 1-100 et al. (17-cv-11381).

Judge Zobel issued a preliminary injunction and seizure order preventing bootleg sales of concert merchandise.  The concert promoter for Coldplay filed suit prior to Coldplay’s August 4th concert at Gillette Stadium in an attempt to deter counterfeiting related to merchandise bearing various “COLDPLAY” registered marks.  Judge Zobel noted that numerous defendants had been served with the complaint at the Gillette show but had failed to appear for the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction.  The order prohibits the defendants from using the band’s trademarks on any merchandise or from aiding or inducing others from using them, and further orders the U.S. Marshal for any district in which the Plaintiff seeks to enforce the order to seize and impound all infringing merchandise being offered for sale in within ten miles of any Coldplay concert for a period of time from six hours prior to the concert to six hours after the show ends.  While the injunction came too late to help the band (and the concert promoter Plaintiff) in Foxboro, it should serve to protect them on the remainder of their shows in America.

It is interesting to note that Coldplay is no stranger to intellectual property lawsuits, having itself been sued by guitarist Joe Satriani for infringing the copyright in his instrumental song “If I Could Fly” through Coldplay’s hit “Viva la Vida” (a comparison of the two songs can be found here).  That case settled out of court in 2009.