Justia Commercial Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
Forrester Envt.l Servs., Inc. v. Wheelabrator Techs.,Inc.
Forrester and Wheelabrator are competitors in the market for phosphate-based treatment systems for stabilizing heavy metals in waste such as incinerator ash, to prevent heavy metals from leaching into drinking water sources. Wheelabrator calls its treatment system “WES-PHix” and has obtained several related U.S. patents. Forrester calls its system “FESI-BOND” and has also obtained patents. In 2001, Wheelabrator entered into a license agreement that granted Bio Max the exclusive right to use and sublicense WES-PHix® in Taiwan. Bio Max sublicensed WESPHix to Kobin, which used WES-PHix at its Taipei plant. Forrester learned that Kobin was dissatisfied with WES-PHix due to the odor it generated. Forrester developed a variation on its system, addressing the odor problem, and persuaded Kobin to license FESI-BOND for use at its plant. Wheelabrator sent a letter asserting that Kobin was in breach of its WES-PHix sublicense agreement and threatening legal action. Kobin stopped purchasing from Forrester and entered into a new sublicense with Wheelabrator. Forrester filed suit alleging violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act; tortious interference with a contractual relationship; tortious interference with Forrester’s prospective advantage; and trade secret misappropriation. The district court denied remand and granted summary judgment for Wheelabrator. The Federal Circuit vacated, with instructions to remand to state court. View "Forrester Envt.l Servs., Inc. v. Wheelabrator Techs.,Inc." on Justia Law
NSK Corp. v.. FAG Italia, S.P.A.
In 1989, the Department of Commerce determined that U.S domestic industry for ball bearings was being materially injured by sales of ball bearings imported from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, and the U.K. at less than fair value and published an anti-dumping order. Following four remands, the Court of International Trade’s affirmed the Commission’s decisions, issued under protest, to revoke the anti-dumping orders on ball bearings from Japan and the U.K. The Federal Circuit reversed in part and vacated in part, finding that the Commission’s second remand determination was supported substantial evidence and that the Court of International Trade erred in repeatedly remanding the case. View "NSK Corp. v.. FAG Italia, S.P.A." on Justia Law
Motiva, LLC v. Int’l Trade Comm’n
Motiva’s patent, issued in 2007 and titled “Human Movement Measurement System,” generally relates to a “system for ... testing and training a user to manipulate the position of ... transponders while being guided by interactive and sensory feedback . . . for the purpose of functional movement assessment for exercise and physical rehabilitation.” Motiva accused Nintendo’s Wii video game system of infringement. The district court stayed the case pending patent reexamination. Motiva then filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, asserting that the Wii infringed the patent, so that its importation violated the Tariff Act. After the Commission began its investigation, Nintendo moved for summary determination under Section 337, which prohibits importation of articles that infringe a valid and enforceable U.S. patent if “an industry in the United States, relating to the articles protected by the patent ... exists or is in the process of being established.” 19 U.S.C. 1337(a)(2). According to Nintendo, there were no commercialized products incorporating Motiva’s patented technology, and Motiva’s activity aimed at developing a domestic industry consisted solely of the litigation. The administrative law judge agreed. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Motiva, LLC v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law
Deckers Outdoor Corp. v. United States
Deckers imported UGG® Classic Crochet boots having a knit upper portion and a rubber sole. They do not have laces, buckles, or fasteners, can be pulled on by hand, and extend above the ankle. At liquidation, Customs classified the boots under Subheading 19.35, covering: “Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials: Footwear with outer soles of rubber or plastics: Other: Footwear with open toes or open heels; footwear of the slip-on type, that is held to the foot without the use of laces or buckles or other fasteners, the foregoing except footwear of subheading 6404.19.20 and except footwear having a foxing or foxing-like band wholly or almost wholly of rubber or plastics applied or molded at the sole and overlapping the upper” and subject to a duty rate of 37.5 percent. Deckers sought reclassification under subheading 6404.19.90, covering“[f]ootwear with outer soles of rubber . . . uppers of textile materials” that is “[v]alued [at] over $12/pair,” subject to a duty rate of nine percent. Customs rejected an argument that the term “footwear of the slip-on type” only encompasses footwear that does not extend above the ankle. The Trade Court granted the government summary judgment. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Deckers Outdoor Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
Ford Motor Co. v. United States
U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied Ford’s claims for post-entry duty refunds. The Court of International Trade upheld the denial and the Federal Circuit vacated. While 19 U.S.C. 1520(d) required Ford to file the relevant certificates of origin within one year, and its failure to do so could not be excused by 19 C.F.R. 10.112, Customs failed to adequately explain why it treats post-entry claims for refunds under 1520(d) differently depending on whether they were filed on paper or through the reconciliation program, under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows qualifying goods to enter the United States duty free(art. 502). View "Ford Motor Co. v. United States" on Justia Law
Versata Software, Inc. v. SAP Am., Inc.
Versata’s patents relate to computer-based pricing of products. In prior art, each factor required separate database queries, so that determining a price was highly inefficient. The claimed invention identifies all the groups to which a customer belongs and all corresponding price adjustments and product-related factor. Versata marketed a successful product, Pricer, sold as a package with other Versata software or as an addition to enterprise systems offered by companies like SAP. While Versata’s patent application was pending, SAP released a new version of its software that contained hierarchical pricing capability, which, it stated, was like Pricer. Pricer sales faltered. Versata sued for infringement. In the first trial, the jury found that SAP directly infringed asserted claims, induced and contributed to infringement of one claim, and that the claims were not invalid, and awarded $138,641,000. The court granted JMOL of noninfringement of the 400 patent, but denied JMOL of noninfringement of the 350 patent. Before the second trial, SAP modified its products with a patch that prevented users from saving data into certain fields. The jury concluded that the products still infringed and awarded $260 million in lost profits and royalties of $85 million. The court entered a permanent injunction. The Federal Circuit vacated the injunction as overbroad, but otherwise affirmed. View "Versata Software, Inc. v. SAP Am., Inc." on Justia Law
Union Steel v. United States
The U.S. Department of Commerce used a practice known as “zeroing” to determine antidumping duties in administrative reviews, even though Commerce no longer uses zeroing in investigations establishing antidumping orders. Using zeroing, negative dumping margins (margins of sales of merchandise sold at nondumped prices) are given a value of zero and only positive dumping margins (margins for sales of merchandise sold at dumped prices) are aggregated, to avoid a negative number that would offset a positive margin for another averaging group. The statute, 19 U.S.C. 1677(35)(A), does not mention zeroing. However, Commerce has emphasized language that the dumping margin “means the amount by which the normal value exceeds the export price or constructed export price of the subject merchandise.” Commerce attributes the differing interpretations as necessary to comply with international obligations, while preserving a practice that serves recognized policy goals. Following two remands, the Court of International Trade and Federal Circuit affirmed. No rule of law precludes Commerce from interpreting the statute differently in different circumstances as long as it provides an adequate explanation. View "Union Steel v. United States" on Justia Law
Kahrs Int’l, Inc. v. United States
Kahrs imports engineered wood flooring panels for distribution to flooring wholesalers. Kahrs classified the products as “assembled parquet panels” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 4418.30.00, a duty-free provision for “Builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood, including cellular wood panels and assembled parquet panels; shingles and shakes: parquet panels.” Customs subsequently liquidated Kahrs’ merchandise under HTSUS 4412, which covers “plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood,” at a duty rate of eight percent ad valorem. Customs denied a protest and the Court of International Trade found that Customs correctly classified Kahrs’ merchandise as plywood under heading 4412. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Kahrs Int'l, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.
The Tote Towel is a large towel with binding around all the edges, zippered pockets at both ends, and an angled cloth loop in the middle. Hall applied for a design patent for the Tote Towel in 2008 and began producing the item soon after the filing, with a label marked “patent pending.” While the application was pending, Hall contacted Bed Bath & Beyond to discuss whether BB&B would sell the Tote Towel at retail stores. Hall left samples of packaged Tote Towels with BB&B. The package and the towel were marked “patent pending.” BB&B had copies of the Hall towel manufactured in Pakistan, for retail sale by BB&B. The patent issued, and Hall sued for patent infringement, unfair competition under the Lanham Act, and for misappropriation under New York law. The district court dismissed all claims and counterclaims on the pleadings. The Federal Circuit held that the counts of patent infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation were not subject to dismissal on the pleadings, but affirmed dismissal of claims against BB&B executives who had been sued in their personal capacities, and affirmed dismissal of the counterclaims. View "Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc." on Justia Law
Soverain Software, LLC v. Newegg, Inc.
The 314 patent, its continuation, the 492 patent, and the 639 patent, relate to electronic commerce; products are offered and purchased through computers interconnected by a network. The patents arise from a software system called “Transact,” developed in 1996 by Open Market. In 2001 Open Market was sold, with the Transact software and patents, to Divine, which was unable to provide support for the complex product and declared bankruptcy. Soverain acquired the Transact software and patents, then sued seven online retailers for patent infringement. The defendants, except Newegg, took paid up licenses to the patents. Newegg declined to pay, stating that its system is materially different and that the patents are invalid if given the scope asserted by Soverain: similar electronic commerce systems were known before the system; the Transact software was generally abandoned; and Newegg’s system, based on the different principle of using “cookies” on the buyer’s computer to collect shopping data, is outside of the claims. The district court awarded Soverain damages and an ongoing royalty and held that the claims were not invalid as obvious. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, holding that claims in the all of the patents are invalid for obviousness. View "Soverain Software, LLC v. Newegg, Inc." on Justia Law