Articles Posted in International Law

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Plaintiffs filed a patent infringement suit in the District of Delaware against HTC, a Taiwanese corporation with its principal place of business in Taiwan, and its wholly owned U.S. based subsidiary, HTC America, a Washington corporation with its principal place of business in Seattle. HTC and HTC America moved to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Western District of Washington pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) or 1406(a). The district court found that venue was not proper as to HTC America but was proper as to HTC. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their suit against HTC America without prejudice. HTC filed a mandamus petition seeking dismissal for improper venue. The Federal Circuit denied relief, rejecting HTC’s attempts to characterize the legal issue as “unsettled.” Suits against alien defendants are outside the operation of the federal venue laws. View "In re: HTC Corp." on Justia Law

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Alimanestianu, a U.S. citizen, was killed in the 1989 bombing of Flight 772 by the Abu Nidal Organization. The State Department determined that the Libyan government sponsored the bombing. Libya was protected from suit in the U.S. under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA); in 1996, FSIA was amended to permit claims for personal injury or death caused by acts of foreign sovereigns designated as state sponsors of terrorism, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(7). Libya had been designated in 1979. In 2002, the Alimanestianus and others sued Libya and obtained summary judgment in 2008, awarding $6.9 billion in total; the Alimanestianus received $1.297 billion. While the defendants appealed, the United States entered into a Claims Settlement Agreement with Libya. Libya agreed to deposit $1.5 billion into a humanitarian fund, $681 million of which was for claims by U.S. nationals for wrongful death or physical injury in pending case as “a full and final settlement.” The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission subsequently awarded the Alimanestianus $10 million. The Federal Circuit rejected a claim that vacating their judgment constituted a compensable taking. The court considered the Penn Central factors: the Executive has an overwhelming interest in conducting foreign affairs; the plaintiffs have no evidence that they had an investment-backed expectation in their claims and nonfinal judgment; plaintiffs’ claim that the Commission’s award was less than their nonfinal judgment does not refute that they received more than they would have without government action. View "Alimanesianu v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 1985, EgyptAir Flight 648 was hijacked by terrorists, who killed passengers and destroyed the aircraft. The U.S. State Department determined that the terrorists received support from the Libyan government. In 1988, a Libyan Intelligence Service agent detonated explosives on Pan Am Flight 103, killing 270 people and destroying the aircraft. Insurers paid $97 million in claims. Libya was shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1604, before enactment of the 1996 State Sponsors of Terrorism Exception to FSIA, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(7). The insurers sued, asserting their insurance subrogation rights. While those claims were pending, President Bush negotiated a settlement with Libya, The U.S. agreed to terminate pending lawsuits; Libya paid the government $1.5 billion, which funded the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. The Libyan Claims Resolution Act, 122 Stat. 2999, provides that Libya shall not be subject to the FSIA exceptions. The insurers’ suit was dismissed. Some of the insurers submitted claims with the Commission, which were denied because of a rule requiring that claimants be U.S. nationals from the date of injury to the date of the espousal of their claims by the U.S. They then sued, alleging that the government took their property without just compensation. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The insurers “cannot claim an investment-backed expectation free of government involvement nor can they characterize the Government’s action as novel or unexpected.” View "Aviation & General Isurance Co., Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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A U.S. Department of Commerce regulation states: “The Secretary will rescind an administrative review ... if a party that requested a review withdraws the request within 90 days of the date of publication of notice ... The Secretary may extend this time limit if the Secretary decides that it is reasonable to do so,” 19 C.F.R. 351.213(d)(1). In 2011, Commerce announced in a published guidance document that parties seeking untimely withdrawals would no longer be able to get an extension based on what might be reasonable under the circumstances in light of the concerns previously identified and employed by Commerce, but would have to demonstrate the existence of an “extraordinary circumstance.” Commerce applied the 2011 guidance in the Glycine case. The Court of International Trade remanded, invalidating the change in methodology. Commerce, under protest, extended the deadline for Glycine to withdraw its request for administrative review of an antidumping order and rescinded the review. The Trade Court and Federal Circuit affirmed. Since the 2011 Notice was intended to effectively rewrite the substantive meaning of the regulation without going through the necessary notice-and-comment rulemaking, it has no legal standing. The Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 551, does not permit amendment of an agency regulation, previously adopted by formal notice-and-comment rulemaking procedure, by a guidance document that is not so enacted. View "Glycine & More, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Stellar and Allied are American companies. Stellar sent Allied's Mexican distributors notice letters accusing them of infringing Stellar’s Mexican Patent. Allied manufactures the accused products in the U.S., which are then sold in Mexico by the distributors. Allied sells the same product in the U.S. under a different name. Allied’s U.S. counsel responded to Stellar’s notice letters on behalf of the distributors, arguing that the products did not infringe. Stellar did not respond but filed infringement actions in Mexico. Allied then sought a declaratory judgment against Stellar in the Southern District of Florida, of non-infringement, invalidity, unenforceability due to inequitable conduct, and tortious interference with business relationships. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, stating: “Stellar’s decision to enforce its Mexican patent under Mexican law against separate entities cannot, without further affirmative action by Stellar, create an actual controversy with Allied with regard to its U.S. Patent,” and that the complaint was “devoid of any allegations that Stellar has done anything to give Allied a reasonable belief that Stellar intends to enforce its 974 Patent in the United States.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. Stellar’s actions do not create a justiciable case or controversy. View "Allied Mineral Products, Inc. v. OSMI, Inc." on Justia Law

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AT&T’s patent is directed to a method of compressing and transmitting transform coefficients in a manner that does not rely on scanning the coefficients in any particular order; all of the coefficients in a block are transmitted at once. Days before the America Invents Act inter partes review procedures went into effect, LG requested inter partes reexamination of the patent, alleging anticipation. Before the PTO decided whether to initiate reexamination, LG asked the PTO to suspend its rule prohibiting a requester from filing documents between requesting inter partes reexamination and the PTO’s initial office action on the merits so that it could file a second request, requesting denial of its initial request. LG did not withdraw, nor did it withdraw its reexamination request. The PTO granted LG’s initial request and declined to suspend the rules. The examiner found new grounds of rejection. While discussions between AT&T and the examiner were ongoing, LG withdrew. The examiner suspended the prohibition against interviews during inter partes reexamination proceedings. Before any amendment, the examiner issued an Action Closing Prosecution that explained a different basis for finding the patent anticipated. The Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board did not exceed its statutory authority when instituting the reexamination and substantial evidence supported the finding of anticipation. View "In re: AT&T Intellectual Property II" on Justia Law

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Polar, a Finnish company based in Finland, owns U.S. patents directed to a method and apparatus for measuring heart rates during physical exercise. Polar sued, alleging infringement directly and indirectly, through the manufacture, use, sale, and importation of Suunto products. Suunto is a Finnish company with a principal place of business and manufacturing facilities in Finland. Suunto and ASWO (a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Utah) are owned by the same parent company. ASWO distributes Suunto’s products in the U.S. Suunto ships the accused products to addresses specified by ASWO. ASWO pays for shipping; title passes to ASWO at Suunto’s shipping dock in Finland. At least 94 accused products have been shipped from Finland to Delaware retailers using that standard ordering process. At least three Delaware retail stores sell the products. Suunto also owns, but ASWO maintains, a website, where customers can locate Delaware Suunto retailers or order Suunto products. At least eight online sales have been made in Delaware. The Federal Circuit vacated dismissal of Suunto for lack of personal jurisdiction. Suunto’s activities demonstrated its intent to serve the Delaware market specifically; the accused products have been sold in Delaware. Suunto had purposeful minimum contacts, so that Delaware’s “assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair” and proper under the Delaware long-arm​ statute. View "Polar Electro Oy v. Suunto Oy" on Justia Law

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Halo, a Hong Kong company that designs and sells high-end modern furniture, owns two U.S. design patents, 13 U.S. copyrights, and one U.S. common law trademark, all relating to its furniture designs. Halo’s common law trademark, ODEON, is used in association with at least four of its designs. Halo sells its furniture in the U.S., including through its own retail stores. Comptoir, a Canadian corporation, also designs and markets high-end furniture that is manufactured in China, Vietnam, and India. Comptoir’s furniture is imported and sold to U.S. consumers directly at furniture shows and through distributors, including in Illinois. Halo sued, alleging infringement and violation of Illinois consumer fraud and deceptive business practices statutes. The district court dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds, finding that the balance of interests favored Canada and that Canada, where the defendants reside, was an adequate forum. The Federal Circuit reversed. The policies underlying U.S. copyright, patent, and trademark laws would be defeated if a domestic forum to adjudicate the rights they convey was denied without a sufficient showing of the adequacy of the alternative foreign jurisdiction; the Federal Court of Canada would not provide any “potential avenue for redress for the subject matter” of Halo’s dispute. View "Halo Creative & Design, Ltd. v. Comptoir des Indes Inc." on Justia Law

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JBLU does business as C’est Toi Jeans USA. In 2010, JBLU imported jeans manufactured in China, embroidered with “C’est Toi Jeans USA,” “CT Jeans USA,” or “C’est Toi Jeans Los Angeles” in various fonts. JBLU filed trademark applications for “C’est Toi Jeans USA” and “CT Jeans USA” on October 8, 2010, stating that the marks had been used in commerce since 2005. Customs inspected the jeans and found violation of the Tariff Act, which requires that imported articles be marked with their country of origin, 19 U.S.C. 1304(a); JBLU’s jeans were marked with “USA” and “Los Angeles,” but small-font “Made in China” labels were not in close proximity to and of at least the same size as “USA” and “Los Angeles.” Customs applied more lenient requirements to the jeans that were marked with “C’est Toi Jeans USA” or “CT Jeans USA” and were imported after JBLU filed its trademark applications. The Trade Court granted the government summary judgment. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the more-lenient requirements apply to unregistered, as well as registered, trademarks. Regulations in the same chapter as 19 C.F.R. 134.47 and regulations in a different chapter but the same title use the word “trademark” to include registered and unregistered trademarks. View "JBLU, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Binzel, which manufactures welding equipment, owns the German DE 934 patent, filed in 1997, and the U.S. 406 patent, issued in 2002, which claims priority to the German application, for a method of manufacturing a contact tip for metal inert gas welding. Lismont, a resident of Belgium asserts that, beginning in 1995, he developed the method disclosed in both patents for Binzel and, that by mid-1997, he had disclosed the details to Binzel. Lismont contends that, despite Binzel's representations that he was the first to conceive of this method, Binzel filed the DE 934 application naming its employee, Sattler, as the inventor. In 2000-2002 Lismont initiated suits in the German Federal Court and sought information about the countries in which Binzel was pursuing patents and about the manufacture and sales of contact tips that used the method at issue. The German courts ruled against Lismont, finding that he failed to prove that he had an inventorship interest. The German Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2009. Lismont then filed actions in the German Constitutional Court and in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2012, Lismont initiated U.S. litigation seeking to correct inventorship of the 406 patent (35 U.S.C. 256(a)). After discovery concerning the issue of laches, the court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Federal Circuit affirmed: Lismont failed to rebut the presumption of laches. View "Lismont v. Alexander Binzel Corp." on Justia Law