A complaint was filed by David Oppenheimer and his company, Performance Impressions, LLC, against CIEE, Inc., alleging misuse of an aerial photograph of the Isle of Palms in South Carolina taken by Mr. Oppenheimer. CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange) is an organization that runs study abroad programs. CIEE is accused of using one of Mr. Oppenheimer’s photographs on its website without authorization.
Merchant Consulting sells payment processing technology equipment and services. It accuses the defendants of infringing its registered stylized mark, Registration No. 3,556,016, which is a gray “M” in a blue and green circle imposed over a gray arrowhead, with the company’s name to its right. It alleges that it also operates under its initials, MCG. Merchant Consulting alleges that the defendants run fraudulent merchant processing companies that misappropriate its “Merchant Consulting Group” and/or “MCG” marks, resulting in actual confusion. Indeed, one example of confusion cited was that the Consumer Protection Division of Missouri opened a complaint against the plaintiff, mistaking it for the defendant. Merchant Consulting charges trademark infringement, unfair competition, and cyberpiracy under the Lanham Act based on defendants’ use of the domain name “www.choosemcg.com.”
Judge Gorton granted the plaintiffs’ motion in limine to exclude Zoll’s expert from testifying about the invalidity of claims of two patents in defense of charges of willful infringement of a third patent. His reasoning was two-fold; first, the invalidity of claims from a different patent is not probative of whether infringement of a third patent was willful, and second, invalidity was first found on appeal, well after the infringement occurred, and thus the invalidity of the claims of the other patents could not serve as evidence of the state of mind of the infringer under the Supreme Court’s Halo decision of 2016.