Business Law Headlines

Business

[06/20] Justice Dept., EU clear Delta-Virgin Atlantic deal
[06/20] Court rules for Amex in dispute with merchants
[06/20] US home re-sales surpass 5 million in May

Corporate Finance

[06/17] BlueTarp Financial Helps Pair of Lumber Companies Take Business Growth to the Next Level
[06/17] BioScrip Extends The Consent Payment Deadline And Expiration Date For Its Previously Announced Tender Offer And Consent Solicitation
[06/13] Northrop Grumman Awards $50,000 in School Grants to Promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education

Case Summaries

Commercial Law

[08/07] Apple Inc. v. International Trade Commission
The decision of defendant International Trade Commission (ITC) that the asserted claims of plaintiff's '607 patent related to smartphone touchscreens are invalid and that intervenor Motorola does not infringe the asserted claims of plaintiff's '828 patent is: 1) affirmed in part, where substantial evidence supports the ITC's finding that Perski '455 anticipates claims 1â€"7 of the '607 patent, and substantial evidence supports the ITC's finding of no anticipation with regard to SmartSkin; 2) reversed in part and remanded, where the ITCâ€TMs decision that Perski '455 anticipates claim 10 of the '607 patent lacks substantial evidence; and 3) vacated in part and remanded, as to the ITC's obviousness finding and the ITC's decision that Motorola does not infringe the '828 patent claims.

[08/05] Federal Treasury Enterprise v. SPI Spirits Ltd.
Dismissal of plaintiffs' claims alleging that defendants infringed certain registered trademarks related to the Russian vodka known as "Stolichnaya," in violation of Section 32(1) of the Lanham Act, is affirmed, where: 1) the Russian Federation is the owner of the Marks; and 2) plaintiffs have not alleged facts sufficient to support their suit in the claimed capacities.

[08/01] Zhang v. Superior Court (California Capital Insurance Company)
Although Moradi-Shalal v. Firemanâ€TMs Fund Ins. Companies bars private actions for unfair insurance practices under the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (UIPA), it does not preclude first party actions brought under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) based on grounds independent from Insurance Code section 790.03, even when the insurer's conduct also violates section 790.03, and here plaintiff alleges causes of action for false advertising and insurance bad faith, both of which provide grounds for a UCL claim independent from the UIPA, so allowing her also to sue under the UCL does no harm to the rule established in Moradi-Shalal.

[07/30] US v. Trek Leather, Inc.
The decision of the Court of International Trade finding defendant-corporate officer liable for gross negligence in connection with the entry of imported merchandise into the U.S., is reversed and remanded, where defendant-corporate officer cannot be personally chargeable with negligence for the actions he took in his capacity as a corporate officer and on behalf of defendant-corporation because the government failed to: 1) pierce the corporate veil to establish that defendant-corporate officer was the actual importer of record; and 2) show that the defendant-corporate officer is liable for fraud under 19 U.S.C. section 1592(a)(1)(A) or as an aider and abettor of fraud by defendant-company under section 1592(a)(1)(B).

Contracts

[08/12] Universal Trading & Investment Co., Inc. v. Bureau for Representing Ukranian Interests in Int'l and Foreign Courts
In a breach of contract claim brought against the Republic of Ukraine for failure to pay for asset recovery work performed by a private entity, the District court's assertion of jurisdiction over a matter involving a foreign sovereign is affirmed where the transactions at issue constitute commercial activity exempt from immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. section 1604.

[08/09] Taurus IP, LLC v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation
In two cases arising from plaintiff's allegations that defendants' external websites infringed plaintiff's '658 patent relating to a computer system for managing product knowledge related to products offered for sale by a selling entity, and defendants' breach of contract claim against third-party defendants: 1) in the patent suit, the district court's rulings are affirmed as to a) the district court's constructions of all the disputed claim terms, b) the judgment of invalidity of claims 16 and 27 of plaintiff's '658 patent, c) the judgment of non-infringement, and d) the finding of an exceptional case under 35 U.S.C. section 285 and the resulting award of damages to defendants; and 2) in the breach of warranty suit, the district court's rulings are affirmed as to a) the denial of the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over Orion and Spangenberg, b) liability for breach of the Warranty provision, c) the award of damages consisting of attorney fees incurred in prosecuting the breach of warranty suit, and d) the imposition of evidentiary sanctions on third party defendants for witness tampering, but reversed as to the award of damages consisting of attorney fees incurred by defendants in defending the patent suit.

[08/09] Sutherland v. Ernst & Young LLP
The district court's order denying defendant's motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration of plaintiff's putative class action brought by plaintiff-employee to recover overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is reversed and remanded, where: 1) The FLSA does not include a "contrary congressional command" that prevents a class-action waiver provision in an arbitration agreement from being enforced by its terms; and 2) in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, 133 S. Ct. 2304 (2013), plaintiff's argument that proceeding individually in arbitration would be "prohibitively expensive" is not a sufficient basis to invalidate the class-action waiver provision at issue here under the "effective vindication doctrine."

[08/08] Civic Partners Stockton, LLC v. Youssefi
Dismissal of plaintiff's action against the private defendants, arising out of the county defendants' decision to contract with the private defendants for development of a historic hotel, after first contracting with plaintiff, is: 1) reversed in part, with regard to the cause of action for conversion of architectural plans, because it is not an action for copyright infringement but for conversion of a particular object on which a copyrightable work is imbedded, and it is therefore not preempted by federal copyright law; but 2) otherwise affirmed, with regard to the remaining claims.

Tax Law

[08/12] Abuzaid v. Woodward
In an action appealing a decision enjoining the N.Y. State Department of Taxation from imposing penalties under N.Y. Tax Law section 481(1)(b)(i) on the ground that collection of the penalties from Plaintiffs would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the District Court judgment is reversed where: 1) the comity doctrine does not prohibit a federal court from denying relief on the merits because such a judgment does not interfere with state tax administration; and 2) section 481(1)(b)(i) is a civil penalty rather than a criminal punishment and therefore does not implicate the Double Jeopardy Clause.

[08/12] Elk Hills Power v. Bd. of Equalization
In a case presenting questions regarding how the State Board of Equalization may assess the value of an electric power plant for purposes of property taxation and whether "emission reduction credits" (ERCs) are to be assessed under Revenue and Taxation Code sections 110(d), 110(e), and 212(c), the Court of Appeals judgment is reversed where: 1) section 110(d) ad 110(e) can be applied together; 2) the Board directly and improperly taxed the power company's ERCs when it added their replacement cost to the power plant's taxable value; and 3) the Board was not required to deduct a value attributable to the ERCs under an income approach.

[08/06] Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream v. County of Kern
In a challenge to the assessment of property taxes on the equipment and personal property in plaintiff's novelty ice cream production lines, the trial court's judgment for defendant-county is affirmed, where: 1) the trial court properly applied the substantial evidence standard of review; 2) the evidence did not compel a finding, as a matter of law, that there was excess capacity at plaintiff's facility, which was caused by external forces beyond plaintiff's control and recognized in the market; and consequently, and 3) the evidence supported the Assessment Appeals Board's conclusion that plaintiff failed to sustain its burden of proof and the trial court's determination that substantial evidence supported the board's decision.

[08/05] Western States Petroleum Association v. State Board of Equalization
The Court of Appeal's judgment that defendant's Rule 474, which provides that the value of petroleum refinery property, including land, improvements, and fixtures, must be assessed as a unit, unlike most industrial property, is affirmed, where: 1) the Court of Appeal erred in finding Rule 474 to be substantively invalid because the adoption of Rule 474 did not exceed defendant's rulemaking authority and Rule 474 is consistent with Proposition 13, Proposition 8, and Revenue and Taxation Code section 51; but 2) defendant failed to provide an adequate assessment of the rule's economic impact as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), so the judgment of the Court of Appeal is affirmed on the ground that Rule 474 is procedurally deficient under the APA.