Friday, July 30, 2010

Entertaining Legal Opinions

Following up on my earlier praise for Judge Kozinski's writing style, Google's Scholar Blog has a most excellent post advertising its ability to search Court cases in the U.S. (a feature I periodically use, and have found very handy and efficient).

Specifically, Google highlights a number of cases over the years (which, of course, you can find in Google's scholar database) containing entertaining judicial writing. Well worth a read. I think my favorite (quoted only in part) is the following interaction:
Lawyer: Juan, I have good news and bad news.
Ramirez-Lopez: OK, I'm ready. Give me the bad news first.
Lawyer: The bad news is that the Ninth Circuit affirmed your conviction and you're going to spend many years in federal prison.
Ramirez-Lopez: Oh, man, that's terrible. I'm so disappointed. But you said 1160*1160there's good news too, right?
Lawyer: Yes, excellent news! I'm very excited.
Ramirez-Lopez: OK, I'm ready for some good news, let me have it.
Lawyer: Well, here it goes: You'll be happy to know that you had a perfect trial. They got you fair and square!
The rest of that exchange is here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"America thrives on competition; Barbie, the all-American girl, will too."

That's how Judge Kozinski finished the 9th Circuit's opinion, vacating the trial court's orders which enjoined the maker of Bratz dolls from selling the dolls. Mattell, whose Barbie dolls were/are? the industry leader, had scored big victories at the trial court level, but those didn't last. Judge Kozinski's writing is excellent, and I encourage you to read the opinion. Hopefully we'll post more information on this opinion soon.


(h/t to Eric Pellenbarg for sending this along today)

Friday, July 2, 2010

"Slight delay" in filing motion for permanent injunction is ok -- injunction granted

This case is interesting to me for a couple of reasons, but most obvious -- the inventor's name. Woodrow Woods. That first name is particularly impressive. Woodrow. Very distinguished sounding. I like it. I like it so much, in fact, that I am going to forgo formalities in this post and refer to the plaintiff as Woodrow. Really, the name is that good.

Woodrow invented certain marine exhaust system improvements which helped cool exhaust gas and prevented water infiltration, leading to less corrosion and engine failure in marine engines. He was awarded U.S. Patents 5,740,670 and 6,035,633 for these inventions.

Woodrow, along with his company Marine Exhaust Systems, sued his competitor DeAngelo Marine Exhaust for infringement. In April, a jury agreed with Woodrow that Deangelo wilfully infringed the patents, and awarded $92,804 in damages. Final judgment was entered on June 8, 2010. That same day, Woodrow moved the Court to amend the final judgment to include a permanent injunction.

DeAngelo argued it was too late -- Woodrow's request for a permanent injunction was made after judgment was entered, and more than 6 weeks after the trial concluded. The Court was not persuaded:
Although the court agrees that plaintiffs should have filed this motion earlier, plaintiffs’ slight delay in moving for injunctive relief does not warrant denying the motion as untimely, given that the “principal value” of the patents-in-suit is the “statutory right to exclude.” Honeywell Int'l, Inc. v. Universal Avionics Sys. Corp., 397 F.Supp.2d 537, 546 (D.Del. 2005). In addition, DeAngelo has not shown that consideration of the motion at this time would result in unfair prejudice. Thus, the court proceeds to analyze the merits of plaintiffs’ motion.
The Court then analyzed the merits of Woodrow's request and started with 35 U.S.C. § 283 (which states that district courts may grant injunctions) and the four-factor test described in eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 391 explaining that Woodrow must prove:
(1) that [they have] 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[s] and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.
The Court analyzed the factors and found they weigh in favor of Woodrow -- so injunction will be granted.

But they're not done yet. Woodrow asked for a pretty broad injunction, preventing DeAngelo from making and selling "any device that infringes either of" the 2 patents. DeAngelo objected, arguing that was too vague and overly broad -- Woodrow needs to identify some products that DeAngelo can't sell. The Court agreed.

Woodrow has now crafted a more narrowly tailored proposed injunction, prohibiting DeAngelo from making and selling
any marine exhaust system the jury found was infringing, and any marine exhaust system no more than colorably different therefrom, infringing claims 1, 9, or 13 of the '670 patent or claims 1 or 14 of the '633 patent.
DeAngelo again objects, offering this language instead, prohibiting DeAngelo from making and selling
any marine exhaust systems having a "water can" or "diffuser" fabricated or manufactured based on any of the following DeAngelo specifications: ...

We'll see what the Court does.
Thanks Docket Navigator for bringing this case to my attention.