Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Hammond, Indiana – Trademark litigation commenced in the Western District of Michigan in 2013 was transferred to the Northern District of Indiana yesterday.

This federal lawsuit, filed by trademark attorneys for Plaintiffs Texas Roadhouse, Inc. and Texas Roadhouse Delaware LLC, both of Louisville, Kentucky, alleges infringement of U.S. Service Mark Reg. No. 1,833,533, U.S. Service Mark Reg. No. 2,231,309, and U.S. Service Mark Reg. No. 2,250,966. These marks have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Defendants listed in the Michigan complaint were Texas Corral Restaurants, Inc.; Switzer Properties, LLC; Texcor, Inc.; Texas Corral Restaurant II, Inc.; T.C. of Michigan City, Inc.; T.C. of Kalamazoo, Inc.; Chicago Roadhouse Concepts, LLC; Paul Switzer; Victor Spina; and John Doe Corp. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, transfer venue, with the Michigan court, which was granted. The lawsuit will continue in the Northern District of Indiana.

Plaintiffs, via their trademark lawyers, asserted the following claims:

• Count I: Trade Dress Infringement
• Count II: Federal Trademark Infringement
• Count III: Trademark Infringement Under Michigan Statutory Law
• Count IV: Trademark Infringement Under Indiana Statutory Law
• Count V: Trademark Infringement Under Common Law
• Count VI: Copyright Infringement

• Count VII: Unfair Competition Under Michigan and Indiana Common Law

Texas Roadhouse seeks equitable relief; damages, including punitive damages; costs and attorney fees.

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Changes to Delivery of E-mailed Notices of Electronic Filing (NEFs)

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Effective January 4, 2016, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana will implement important new changes in the delivery of e-mailed Notices of Electronic Filing (“NEFs”). The court’s CM/ECF system will begin generating NEFs for both docketed and e-filed events in sealed cases and for sealed entries in non-sealed cases. For more information, click here.

Sealed filings are governed by Local Rule 5-11 and Local Criminal Rule 49.1-2. Attorney e-filers are encouraged to review updates to the court’s ECF Policies and Procedures Manual (Sections 11 and 18), which address changes in service requirements for sealed filings.

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Evansville, Indiana – District Judge Richard L. Young, writing for the Southern District of Indiana in the matter of Berry Plastics Corp. v. Intertape Polymer Corp., denied Berry’s motion in limine to prohibit Intertape from proffering testimony or evidence at trial which referred to reliance on counsel or good faith in prosecuting the patent applications for U.S. Patent No. 7,476,416 (the “‘416 patent”).

Plaintiff Berry Plastics Corp. of Evansville, Indiana filed a patent infringement lawsuit against competitor Intertape Polymer Corp., which owns the ‘416 patent. The court held a jury trial from November 3, 2014 to November 17, 2014.

The issue of Berry’s inequitable conduct claim against Intertape, which is headquartered in Montreal, Canada, remained unresolved after the jury trial and was set for a subsequent bench trial. To prevail on this claim, Berry would need to prove “by clear and convincing evidence that Intertape knew of a prior art reference, knew that it was material, and made a deliberate decision to withhold it.”

Prior to the trial on this claim, Plaintiff filed a motion in limine seeking to prohibit Defendant from proffering testimony or evidence at the bench trial that referred to reliance on counsel or good faith in prosecuting patent applications for the ‘416 patent. Full discovery regarding those issues had previously been denied to Berry and Berry argued to the court that it would unfairly prejudice its interests to deny it full discovery, yet leave open the possibility that Intertape would raise those defenses at trial.

The court denied Berry’s motion, noting three facts relevant to that decision. First, Defendant Intertape had indicated that it would not assert advice of counsel and counsel’s good faith during the bench trial. Second, the witnesses relevant to the defenses would not be called at the trial. And, finally, the court noted that it had already ruled that “the testimony upon which Berry bases its motion (and testimony strikingly similar to it) does not amount to an assertion of the defenses of reliance on advice of counsel or counsel’s good faith.”

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Washington, D.C. – The United States Supreme Court ordered the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to be amended following last year’s approval of the changes by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee. Civil Rules 1, 4, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 37, 55 and 84, and the Appendix of Forms were affected by this change. The revisions took effect on December 1, 2015.

These changes may affect patent litigation at the trial court level. Most relevantly, Rule 84, “Forms,” was abrogated. That change, in turn, eliminated the Appendix of Forms, including Form 18, which had provided a basic sample complaint outlining what constituted a sufficient allegation of direct patent infringement. Rule 84 had provided that the “forms contained in the Appendix of Forms are sufficient under the rules and are intended to indicate the simplicity and brevity of statement which the rules contemplate.”

Practice Tip: It appears that the abrogation of Rule 84 will modify the pleading standard for patent litigation, raising it to the higher standard set forth by the Supreme Court in Twombly and Iqbal. It is unclear how federal courts will interpret these revisions. Consequently, Indiana patent attorneys, and especially patent litigators, would be wise to keep abreast of rulings on motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) as well as motions for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) as the contours of the revised pleading standard in the context of patent infringement litigation are clarified.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the Southern District of Indiana denied Plaintiff’s request for partial summary judgment for declaratory relief and injunctive relief against Defendants in a copyright dispute over the use of Plaintiff’s copyrighted photograph of Indianapolis.

This lawsuit dates back to June 7, 2011 when Plaintiff Richard N. Bell of McCordsville, Indiana sued 22 Defendants for alleged infringement of his copyrighted photo, U.S. Copyright Registration No. VA0001785115. Bell amended his complaint multiple times, with the third amended complaint becoming the operative pleading on December 6, 2012.

In May 2013, the litigation was severed into three separate cases, including the one that is the subject of this opinion. In this lawsuit, Bell, who is both an Indiana copyright attorney and a professional photographer, accused Defendants Insurance Concepts, Fred O’Brien and Shanna Cheatham of copyright infringement. Bell sought injunctive relief along with damages, costs and attorney’s fees.

A prior opinion by the court held for these Defendants on the issues of Bell’s state law claims and copyright damages claims. In this order, the court addressed the parties’ cross motions for partial summary judgment on the remaining issues – declaratory and injunctive relief.

The court first cited the four-factor test necessary to obtain an injunction, which states that a plaintiff must show:

(1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.

The court noted that in a prior ruling, it had concluded that Bell had failed to establish any damages, including no damages that would rise to the level of “irreparable injury.” Consequently, the first factor was not met. The court then opined that an injunction was also unwarranted under the second factor, as Bell could again institute litigation upon finding any future copyright violations by a Defendant. Having found that at least two of the four elements required for an injunction were missing, the court declined to address the remaining factors.

The court similarly declined to exercise its discretion to grant declaratory relief on the grounds that, after having been notified, the Defendants had promptly removed the copyrighted photo and, moreover, the websites on which the photo had been published no longer existed. As such, it concluded that there was no “substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”

The court consequently denied Plaintiff Bell’s motion for partial summary judgment and his request for declaratory and injunctive relief. Defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment was granted.

Practice Tip:

Attorney/Photographer Sues Georgia Real Estate Company for Infringing Copyrighted Photo
Sovereign Immunity May Take a Toll on Bell’s Latest Copyright Lawsuit
Appellate Court Dismisses Copyright Appeal as Premature
Bell Rings in the Holiday Weekend with a New Copyright Lawsuit
Bell Files New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Bell Sues Georgia-Base FindTicketsFast.com for Copyright Infringement
Richard Bell Files Two New Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
Court Prevents Copyright Plaintiff Bell from Outmaneuvering Legal System; Orders Bell to Pay Almost $34,000 in Fees and Costs
Three Default Judgments of $2,500 Ordered for Copyright Infringement

Court Orders Severance of Misjoined Copyright Infringement Complaint 

Richard Bell Files Another Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

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Indianapolis, Indiana – An Indiana copyright lawyer for Defendant Wrightspeed, Inc. of San Jose California filed a notice of removal in the Southern District of Indiana on the basis of both federal-question jurisdiction and diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction.

Plaintiff Precision Rings, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana had filed its lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, unspecified damages and attorney’s fees. Among Plaintiff’s contentions was the breach of a nondisclosure agreement. Included in this alleged breach was the misappropriation of Plaintiff’s trade secrets, which involved the use or disclosure by Defendant of certain copyrighted drawings that Plaintiff had registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Defendant Wrightspeed contended that federal-question jurisdiction was proper and asked that the federal court in the Southern District of Indiana hear and decide all further matters in the litigation. Defendant asserted that the complaint arose under copyright law because Plaintiff’s complaint included a claim that would require construction of the Copyright Act. Consequently, subject matter jurisdiction rested exclusively in federal court.

Defendant Wrightspeed also asserted that diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction was a proper basis for the Indiana federal court to hear the litigation. The parties were completely diverse, it stated, with Plaintiff being a citizen of Indiana and Defendant being a citizen of both Delaware and California. Defendant contended further that, considering the potential damages, fees and costs, the amount at stake was well in excess of the $75,000 threshold necessary for diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction.

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Indianapolis, IndianaMagistrate Judge Mark Dinsmore of the Southern District of Indiana denied Defendants’ motion to limit discovery in the patent infringement litigation between Knauf Insulation, LLC et al. and Johns Manville Corp. et al. Judge Dinsmore also recently denied Defendants’ motion to bifurcate the trial.

This federal litigation alleges infringement of U.S. Patents Nos. 8,114,210; 8,940,089; D631,670; 9,039,827 and 9,040,652, which Plaintiffs Knauf Insulation, LLC, Knauf Insulation GmbH and Knauf Insulation SPRL contend were infringed by Defendants Johns Manville Corporation and Johns Manville, Inc.

This court order addresses Defendants’ motion, filed by patent attorneys for Defendants, for limitations on electronic discovery. Specifically, Defendants asked the court to implement a date cutoff of January 1, 2007 for all electronically stored discovery and to limit the number of e-mail custodians from which Defendants must produce e-mail. Defendants asserted that these restrictions would reduce its discovery-related expenses by approximately $49,400.

The request to limit the time was denied. The court noted that there was a high likelihood that relevant evidence that was not available from any other source would be found in Defendants’ materials prior to 2007. Further, the cost of obtaining that evidence was not excessive in light of the amount in controversy in the litigation. Consequently, the court held that Defendants had not met their burden of showing that the cost of the proposed discovery to Defendants outweighed the benefit to Plaintiffs.

Defendants also requested that the court limit electronic discovery to 10 of Defendants’ 38 e-mail custodians. Patent lawyers for Defendants argued that such a limitation would result in a savings of $18,000 and would also facilitate the predictive coding process.

The court was again unpersuaded. It noted that, while discovery couldn’t guarantee that 100% of responsive material would be produced, eliminating material held by 28 of Defendants’ 38 e-mail custodians from the scope of discovery would “guarantee a zero percent recall for the 28 custodians not chosen.” After asking itself the question, “how many relevant responsive documents are too many to voluntarily walk away from?,” the court concluded that it had insufficient evidence to weight the benefit of the e-mails that would be produced as a result of including the 28 custodians that Defendants proposed be omitted from discovery. Moreover, it opined that in high-value litigation such as this lawsuit, the burden of the additional $18,000 expense does not outweigh the potential benefit to Knauf of receiving those emails.

The court ordered Defendants to produce discovery from all 38 e-mail custodians but also ordered that, should the search of the additional 28 custodians yield fewer than 500 responsive documents, Plaintiffs must reimburse Defendants $18,000 for the cost of loading the additional data from those 28 e-mail custodians.

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Indianapolis, IndianaMagistrate Judge Mark Dinsmore of the Southern District of Indiana denied a motion to bifurcate the patent infringement trial in ongoing litigation styled Knauf Insulation, LLC et al. v. Johns Manville Corp. et al.

This Indiana patent litigation began in January 2015 when Knauf Insulation, LLC, Knauf Insulation GmbH, and Knauf Insulation SPRL (“Plaintiffs”) sued Johns Manville Corporation and Johns Manville, Inc. (“Defendants”). Plaintiffs contended that Defendants had infringed U.S. Patents Nos. 8,114,210; 8,940,089; D631,670; 9,039,827 and 9,040,652 (“the ‘652 patent”).

Patent attorneys for Denver-based Defendants asked the court to bifurcate the trial, asking it to hear the claims of patent infringement of the ‘652 patent separately from the infringement claims regarding the other patents. Defendants supported its motion for bifurcation by asserting that the ‘652 patent is made from binding chemistry different from the other patents and that this difference might confuse the jury.

Whether or not to bifurcate a trial is within the discretion of the trial court, subject to certain conditions: (1) the bifurcation should avoid prejudice to a party or promote judicial economy; (2) the bifurcation should not unfairly prejudice the non-moving party; and (3) the bifurcation must not be granted if doing so would violate the Seventh Amendment.

The court noted that the burden of establishing that bifurcation is appropriate rests on the party seeking it and that “bifurcation remains the exception, not the rule.” It held that Defendants had failed to meet that burden. Instead, the difference in binder chemistry by itself did not outweigh the benefits of a single trial during which the finder of fact could evaluate the “many common facts” relating to all of the patents-in-suit.

The court finally noted that, even if bifurcation might at some point be appropriate, it was too early in the litigation for it to be ordered. The parties were advised that the court would review a motion for bifurcation, should a party choose to submit one, when the matter was closer to trial.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Chief Justice Loretta Rush of the Indiana Supreme Court today signed an order extending e-filing.

In July, the Indiana E-filing System (“IEFS”) commenced in Indiana’s state courts with a pilot program in Hamilton County. That program extends to filings with the Indiana Supreme Court and Court of Appeals effective Monday, November 9, 2015.

E-filing via IEFS will be required for all filings for appeals “in which: (a) either the Indiana Public Defender or the Marion County Public Defender, on one side, and the Attorney General of Indiana, on the other side, represent the parties to the appeal; and (b) the Notice of Appeal has already been conventionally filed.”

Other appeals for which a Notice of Appeal have been conventionally filed may submit filings through the IEFS but are not yet required to do so. The court’s plan is to require electronic filing in all Indiana state courts by the end of 2018.

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Fort Wayne, Indiana – District Judge Jon E. DeGuilio of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana transferred a lawsuit alleging copyright to the Southern District of Indiana, citing a lack of venue in the Northern District.

In this litigation, Angela E. Brooks-Nwenga, acting pro se, alleges that The Mind Trust, United Way of Central Indiana, Central Indiana Education Alliance, Phalen Leadership Academies and Indianapolis Public Schools, all of Indianapolis, Indiana, infringed her copyright work, “Transitioning Into Responsible Students.” Among the wrongdoings asserted are infringement involving Defendants’ use of “Bridges To Success Education School Model” and “Phalen Leadership Academies School Model”

This copyright lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Indiana, with Brooks-Nwenga acting as her own copyright attorney. The court ordered Plaintiff to show cause why the litigation should not be transferred to the Southern District of Indiana. Brooks-Nwenga argued to the court that she lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but the court was not persuaded by this, noting that the statute governing venue in a federal lawsuit, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), provides that:

a civil action may be brought in:

(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;

(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or

(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.

None of these criteria applied to this litigation. Brooks-Nwenga also contended that her prior litigation in the Southern District of Indiana had been excessively delayed and that her lawsuit had not received a fair and unbiased hearing. The court was similarly unswayed by this argument, stating that the court would “not hear appeals from other district courts.”

Finally, the court noted that, while venue in the Northern District was improper, “a substantial part, if not all, of the events or omissions giving rise to Ms. Brooks-Ngwenya’s claim seem to have occurred in the Southern District of Indiana.” Consequently, the court ordered the litigation transferred.

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