European Court of Justice Ruling Adds to Challenges that U.S. Standard-Essential Patent Holders Face on Enforcement

BartkowskiGuest Commentary

by Paul M. Bartkowski, a partner with Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg, LLP, with Mike Doman, an associate with the firm.

On July 16, 2015, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”), in Huawei v. ZTE, clarified the circumstances under which an owner of a standard essential patent (SEP) that is required to license the SEP on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND) can bring a claim for injunctive relief against an alleged infringer. The ruling was highly anticipated because the nature of a SEP holder’s right to enjoin alleged infringers has been a recent topic of debate in both the U.S. and in Europe. A review of the decision reveals that European and American courts analyze FRAND-related issues quite differently. Continue reading

Federal Circuit Reaffirms International Trade Commission’s Authority Over Induced Patent Infringement

Kaminski_Jeffri_LRFeatured Expert Contributor – Intellectual Property (Patents)

Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sitting en banc has reaffirmed the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) longstanding authority for remedying inducement infringement. The ITC authority was called into question, and in fact overruled, by an earlier panel decision in the same case. The court sitting en banc in Suprema v. ITC voted 6-4 to overturn the panel’s decision limiting the circumstances under which the ITC could issue an exclusion order for induced infringement. The en banc decision closes a loophole for induced infringement and provides certainty on the issue.

By way of background, Suprema is company that manufactures fingerprint scanners in Korea. The fingerprint scanners are imported and sold to Mentalix in the U.S. Mentalix writes custom software for controlling the scanners. It then bundles its software with the scanners and resells the bundled product within the U.S. Continue reading

With Recent Use of Disgorgement, FTC Continues to Sharpen its Enforcement Tools

amurinoFeatured Expert Column – Antitrust/Federal Trade Commission

Andrea Agathoklis Murino, Goodwin Proctor LLP

One need only check the headlines to see that enforcement of the antitrust laws is alive and well at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) today. On both the merger and conduct front, the FTC’s Bureau of Competition has proven incredibly active—and successful. In a continuing example of its willingness to use all tools in its competition enforcement arsenal, the FTC resurrected use of its disgorgement authority in dramatic fashion, collecting nearly $27 million from Cardinal Health, Inc. (“Cardinal”) for conduct dating back to the early and mid- 2000s. The FTC’s willingness to challenge Cardinal’s conduct and the significance of the fine serve as reminders that the agency’s powers are broad and that under Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the FTC will not hesitate to seek bold relief. Continue reading

D.C. Circuit Weighs in, Once Again, on Privileged Corporate Documents in “KBR” Case

829-Brower_GregjohnsonGuest Commentary

by Greg Brower and Brett W. Johnson, Snell & Wilmer LLP*

Government contractors won another round in a long-running battle over the discoverability of internal investigation documents. On August 11, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found, for a second time in the same case, that the district court erred in ordering the production of documents, concluding that the district court’s decision was contrary to both the circuit’s own precedent and the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Upjohn v. United States.

Back in March of 2014, in United States of America ex rel. Harry Barko v. Halliburton Company, et al., defendant Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root (“KBR”) and other defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to reverse a district court’s order that certain reports created as part of an internal investigation were not privileged and should be produced in discovery. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit reversed the decision, but remanded the matter back to the district court to consider other potential arguments in favor of production. For more on this decision by the circuit court, see our June 30, 2014 WLF Legal Pulse commentary here. Continue reading

Fifth Circuit Requires Labor Department to Pay Attorneys’ Fees in Bad Faith Independent Contractor Suit

DOLGuest Commentary

By Rachael Stein, a summer law clerk at Washington Legal Foundation who is entering her third year at the University of Georgia School of Law this fall.

In recent years, federal and state workplace regulators have put intense pressure on employers to move away from the use of independent contractors. This pressure was thrown into sharp relief in a recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision, Gate Guard Services L. P. v. Perez, involving a highly-questionable investigation and lawsuit by the Department of Labor (DOL).

Gate Guard Services is a company that provides gate attendants to oil companies at remote drilling sites. Gate Guard classifies its attendants as independent contractors because the attendants find their own relief workers, are not evaluated based on performance, are not restricted from working for competitors, and are not supervised by Gate Guard. The federal investigation arose from a conversation DOL investigator David Rapstine had with a friend, who complained about the wages he received when formerly working at Gate Guard. Rapstine believed Gate Guard attendants were employees and not independent contractors, and therefore believed Gate Guard may have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not paying overtime or keeping accurate records of attendants’ working hours. Continue reading

Court Cuts Class-Action Firm’s Fees to $0 after Unveiling Concealed Settlement Scheme

Guest Commentary

by Chelsie Kidd, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law.

A California Superior Court judge recently turned a class-action law firm’s worst nightmare into reality when she denied the firm over $5 million in attorneys’ fees. In Lofton v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Judge Mary Wiss found that Initiative Legal Group (“ILG”) “attempted to arrogate to itself more than $5 million in class action attorneys’ fees without court approval.”

Source: WikiMedia Commons

Source: WikiMedia Commons

The events leading up to Judge Wiss’ denial of attorneys’ fees began in 2005 when ILG filed a wage-and-hour class action on behalf of home mortgage consultants against Wells Fargo in Mevorah v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Plaintiffs asserted claims for unpaid overtime, meal- and rest-break violations, and waiting-time penalties. Ultimately, ILG failed to obtain class certification in Mevorah. Undeterred, ILG filed numerous additional class-action suits against Wells Fargo, but each action asserted claims that overlapped with those alleged in Mevorah. ILG was “on the verge of filing a new motion for class certification when Wells Fargo agreed to attend mediation.” In early 2011, only after ILG and Wells Fargo reached a claims-made, non-reversionary class settlement,the Lofton action was filed solely for the purpose of seeking court approval of the settlement. ILG encouraged and directed its clients to make claims from the Lofton settlement (even telling some of its clients to send form directly to ILG and not the claims administrator). Continue reading

Applying High Court Jurisdiction Rulings, Federal Judge Shuts Out Suit Against Foreign Soccer Federation

headerGuest Commentary

By Ashley Snell, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law.

After finding some success in its concussion-related class actions against professional and amateur football associations, noted plaintiffs’ firm Hagens Berman has taken aim at the world’s most popular sport—soccer. The firm has sued a number of soccer organizations, including the much-maligned Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), for failing to provide proper concussion management for players. The Zurich, Switzerland-based federation, obviously averse to playing defense on (or rather, in) the plaintiffs’ home court (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California), moved to dismiss. The result in Mehr v. Federation Internationale de Football Association exhibits the far-reaching impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s game-changing general-jurisdiction decisions.

In its 2014 Daimler AG v. Bauman decision, the Court offered defendants highly specific guidance on defeating general jurisdiction. Several past WLF Legal Pulse commentaries have addressed Bauman (here and here). In a nutshell, Argentinian plaintiffs sued a German company, over events that took place in Argentina, in a California federal court. The Court’s opinion limited general jurisdiction over corporations to its principal place of business, its state of incorporation, and “an exceptional case” that renders the defendant at home in that state. Continue reading