Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Business Law
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Levi Strauss has stitched the back pocket of its jeans with the “Arcuate” design since 1873 and holds multiple trademarks on the design. In 2005, Abercrombie sought to register a “mirror image stitching design” for use on clothing, stating no limitations on the goods’ nature, type, channels of trade, or class of purchasers. Levi Strauss initiated an opposition to the parent application (concerning jackets and seeking Principal Registration). Levi Strauss petitioned to cancel Supplemental Registration of the child application covering other clothing. Abercrombie began selling “Ruehl jeans” with the design. Levi Strauss sued. The PTO stayed proceedings. Abercrombie claimed that its products were sold in different channels, at different prices. A jury found no infringement; the court rejected a claim of dilution by blurring. Levi Strauss did not appeal concerning infringement. The Ninth Circuit remanded, holding that dilution by blurring does not require identity or near identity of marks. Meanwhile, Abercrombie shut down the Ruehl brand, but sought to register its mirror-image design on “clothing, namely bottoms,” disclosing use of the design on denim shorts sold as “Gilley Hicks,” at different prices, and through different channels. Levi Strauss sought to amend to include the Gilley Hicks products. The district court declined and dismissed the dilution claim. The PTO opposition and cancellation proceedings were dismissed on the ground of issue preclusion. The Federal Circuit reversed, reasoning that the registrations at issue in the PTO cover a broader range of uses than were the subject of the litigation. View "Levi Strauss & Co. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co." on Justia Law

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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

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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

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Since 2003, Cummins and TAS have been engaged in three separate actions regarding idle-control technologies for heavy-duty truck engines. Earlier suits concerned breach of a master license agreement between the parties. In a 2009 action, Cummins sought a declaratory judgment that claims of TAS’s 703 and 469 patents are invalid and unenforceable. The district court found that the suit was barred by the doctrine of res judicata in light of a decision in an earlier claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Cummins could have pursued claims regarding invalidity and unenforceability of the TAS patents in prior litigation, which featured the same parties, arose from the same group of operative facts, and resulted in a final resolution on the merits so that res judicata bars Cummins’ defenses under 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. View "Cummins, Inc. v. TAS Distrib. Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that a service mark, NATIONAL CHAMBER, submitted by the Chamber of Commerce of the USA, was correctly refused registration for being merely descriptive under 15 U.S.C. 1052(e)(1). The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding the decision supported by substantial evidence. View "In re: Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America" on Justia Law

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This tax case concerned the procedures to be followed when the IRS conducted a partnership proceeding under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), I.R.C. 6221-6233. Plaintiffs, individual taxpayers and limited partners in partnerships that were the subject of such proceedings, filed suit on grounds that the lack of deficiency notices rendered the IRS's assessments invalid. At issue was whether the IRS was required to issue notices of deficiency before assessing additional tax payments from plaintiffs. The court held that the assessments in this case amounted to computational adjustments and therefore, no deficiency notices were necessary. The court noted that the three remaining questions the court put to the parties as part of en banc rehearing each presumed that a deficiency notice was required. Because the court's holding here definitively contradicted that presumption, the court need not analyze those questions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgement of the Court of Federal Claims.

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An anti-dumping petition claimed that Chinese firms were exporting frontseating service valves at less than fair value. The Department of Commerce calculated normal value of the valves by using India as a surrogate market economy and identifying brass bars as a primary raw material; it valued the labor factor of production using regression analysis that included wage rates and gross national income data from sixty-one market economy countries. Commerce issued a final determination that calculated the surrogate value for brass bar without excluding the imports from Japan, France, and the UAE. The Court of International Trade upheld the determination. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for revaluation of labor, not using the regression approach, and reconsideration of sales at issue for calculating the relevant total dumping margin. Commerce’s reading of the evidence was reasonable in including data on imports from Japan, France, and the UAE, to calculate the surrogate value of brass bar.

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In 2000 the plaintiff acquired CMP and its subsidiary; in 2002 it acquired RGS and its subsidiary. Plaintiff acquired all liabilities; the companies and subsidiaries became part of a group of affiliated companies filing consolidated income tax returns pursuant to I.R.C. sect. 1501. Prior to the acquisition, the subsidiaries had overpaid taxes in some years. The plaintiff had underpaid and, after paying the deficiency and interest, requested a refund of interest, claiming entitlement to a net interest rate of zero on its deficiency because sect. 6621(d) allowed it to offset its underpayment with the overpayments by the subsidiaries. The IRS ignored the request. The Court of Federal Claims rejected the claim, finding that the plaintiff was not the "same" taxpayer as had overpaid. The Federal Circuit affirmed, reasoning that the taxpayer must be the same at the time of the overpayments and underpayments.

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In November 2001, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued an anti-dumping duty order on certain hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from Thailand, found that the company was selling the subject merchandise at less than normal value and assigned a dumping margin of 3.86%. In 2006 the order was partially revoked, as to the company, but remained in effect with respect to other exporters and producers. Commerce received a complaint that dumping had resumed and initiated changed circumstances review (CCR), despite the company's assertion that it lacked authority to so. The Court of International Trade (CIT) dismissed the company's suit for an injunction in 2009. Commerce reinstated the order with respect to the company; CIT affirmed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Commerce reasonably interpreted and acted on its revocation and CCR authority under 19 U.S.C. 1675(b, d) as permitting conditional revocation and reconsideration.

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Plaintiff imported the LCD monitors and entered them under a subheading of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States for "Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, not elsewhere specified or included: Input or output units, whether or not containing storage units in the same housing: Other: Display units: Other: Other." The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection classified and reliquidated the monitors under a subheading, dutiable at 5% ad valorem, for: "Reception apparatus for television, whether or not incorporating radiobroadcast receivers or sound or video recording or reproducing apparatus; video monitors and video projectors: video monitors: Color: With a flat panel screen: Other: Other. " The Court of International Trade upheld the designation. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded because the Court of International Trade expressly did not reach the issue of the adequacy of the evidence for either a principal use or principal function.