Hot Dogs

Submitted by patentadmin on Mon, 06/20/2011 - 21:47

As any true aficionado knows, a “Chicago-style” hot dog is served on a poppy-seed bun, garnished with mustard, green-relish, a pickle spear, chopped onions, tomato wedges, sports peppers, and celery salt. Chicago may no longer be the “hog butcher to the world,” but Chicagoans still take their hot dogs quite seriously, as evidenced by a recently filed lawsuit. (Vienna Beef, Ltd. V. Red Hot Chicago, Inc. and Scott D. Ladany)

Rest Easy

Submitted by patentadmin on Fri, 06/17/2011 - 21:51

Some weeks ago, we wrote (see Waving the Flag) of the sterling efforts of Thompson/Center Arms Company to protect American jobs and America’s technological lead in the critical field of muzzle-loading firearms by suing foreign companies which had the temerity to infringe Thompson/Center’s patents.

Public Service

Submitted by patentadmin on Thu, 06/16/2011 - 22:01

Some time ago we wrote about a tiff concerning “Never Ending Shrimp” (see Bon Appétit). The argument concerned not the shrimp, but trademark rights in the term. The owners of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant chains alleged that use of the term by a T.G.I. Friday’s franchisee would cause confusion with the Olive Garden’s “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” and Red Lobster’s occasional all-you-can-eat shrimp promotions.

Unanswered Questions

Submitted by patentadmin on Fri, 06/10/2011 - 17:48

Some time ago, we wrote of Lawrence Lockwood and his tireless efforts to convince a court – any court – that two attorneys formerly at the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLC are racketeers who filed and prosecuted “sham” re-examinations of two of his patents, thereby causing a four-year delay in his patent enforcement campaign and diminishing the value of his intellectual property (see Still A Potent Weapon).

A New Low

Submitted by patentadmin on Fri, 06/10/2011 - 16:14

We have, from time to time, written about ethically-challenged lawyers, but a recent case from Illinois reaches a new low. (In the Matter of Ellen Frances Lang)

While most dishonest lawyers defraud strangers, Ms. Lang preyed on her own family. When handling a real estate closing for her mother – yes, her own mother – who was purchasing a suburban Chicago home, Ms. Lang put the title in her own name. She then took out a mortgage on the property, pocketing $150,000.

The Latest Episode

Submitted by patentadmin on Fri, 06/10/2011 - 16:07

In the last, suspense-filled episode of this long-running (7 years) daytime legal soap opera, the jury had returned a verdict in favor of MGA, awarding it custody of the little Bratz and $88.4 million in damages (see previous blog posts Pass the Popcorn and Soap Opera Summary). In the closing moments of the show, Mattel, professing “disappointment” with the verdict, vowed to appeal.

Trolls Beware

Submitted by patentadmin on Tue, 06/07/2011 - 07:48

There was a time when the Eastern District of Texas was the preferred venue of plaintiffs in patent infringement cases. Well, as the song says, “the times they are a ‘changin” – at least with respect to so-called “patent trolls.”

Interesting Wrinkles

Submitted by patentadmin on Tue, 06/07/2011 - 07:32

One of the most profitable – if not culturally elevating – new movie releases this season is “The Hangover Part II,” which includes a character, played by actor Ed Helms, who wakes or sobers up to find that he has a tattoo on his face identical to the one on the face of boxer Mike Tyson. While movie-goers may consider this hilarious, “tattoo artist” S. Victor Whitmill, the creator of Tyson’s tattoo, has failed to see the humor in it. Indeed, he sued Warner Brothers for copyright infringement and filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction barring the release of the movie.

Hoist by His Own Petard

Submitted by patentadmin on Wed, 05/25/2011 - 21:21

For some months, Larry Flynt and his brother Jimmy have been engaged in litigation to determine the ownership of the “Hustler Empire.” Well folks, this long-running courtroom soap opera has come to an end. Not wishing to keep our loyal readers in suspense any longer, the result is: Larry won. He is now legally recognized as the sole emperor of the porn empire. Jimmy’s claim of a partnership interest was denied.

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

Submitted by patentadmin on Tue, 05/24/2011 - 14:08

The long-running Lime Wire saga is over. It ended not with a resounding jury decision as to the amount of damages suffered by the “record labels,” but an anti-climactic, last-minute settlement, albeit one in the amount of $105 million.

Although the jury sitting in the damages trial never had the opportunity to return a verdict, the trial did offer some interesting, not to say dramatic, moments.

Waving the Flag

Submitted by patentadmin on Mon, 05/23/2011 - 14:35

While Japan is making great strides in nuclear power plant operation and associated public relations management, and China is developing startling new food additives, the United States remains the world leader in “the development of technological advances in the muzzle-loading firearms industry.” Should the reader be unfamiliar with muzzle-loading firearms, think of Davey Crockett and his trusty rifle, “Old Betsey” (for the benefit of those readers whose memories have grown dim, Crockett was the character in the Disney movies who roamed the woods wearing a coonskin yarmulke).

Tall Tale

Submitted by patentadmin on Fri, 05/20/2011 - 14:19

As a general rule, lying under oath is not a good idea. However, if you simply must lie, try to make it plausible. (be2 LLC v. Ivanov).

be2, the operator of dating website, sued Ivanov, in Illinois, alleging that he was the CEO of a Bulgarian dating website that used the “confusingly similar” web address

Neither Ivanov, nor any other Bulgarian, responded to the suit and, in due course, be2 (the American dating website) was awarded a default judgment against Ivanov and be2 (the Bulgarian dating website).

Don't Be Confused

Submitted by patentadmin on Thu, 05/19/2011 - 13:55

Under some circumstances it is legally permissible for two different parties to employ the same trademark for different goods. Generally, this involves goods which are so disparate that ordinary consumers would not assume that they originated from a common source. The classic example of this is the use of CADILLAC as a trademark for both automobiles and dog food. Automobile manufacturers do not produce dog food and dog food producers do not manufacture automobiles. Hence, erroneous belief that there is a common source for both goods is unlikely.

The Cost of Nondisclosure

Submitted by patentadmin on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 22:33

As anyone who has dealt with lawyers can attest, they NEVER DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION – even information which is otherwise readily available and not confidential – NOTHING. Sometimes this is good practice, but sometimes it comes back to bite them where they sit. (BIAX Corporation v. NVIDIA Corporation, et al.)

On to the Main Event

Submitted by patentadmin on Thu, 05/12/2011 - 13:06

The copyright infringement suit brought by approximately the entire recording industry against Lime Wire is about to come to an end. A trial on the issue of DAMAGES is scheduled to begin on May 2. (Early in the case, the Court disposed of the question of LIABILITY by granting a summary judgment that Lime Wire was guilty of “secondary copyright infringement.”) In preparation for this momentous anti-climax, the Court recently issued three pre-trial decisions.