This week’s Commercial Appeals Roundup actually covers a fortnight of appeals court rulings, from May 18 to June 5. Eyeballing the total number (24) makes me think the courts’ output has slowed only a little as a result of COVID-19.  

Subject-matter-wise, the courts:

  • spoke on 7 IP issues,
  • dealt with securities and pension claims in 4,
  • decided arbitration questions in 3,
  • considered commercial contract claims in 2,
  • upheld 1 big price-fixing jury award, and
  • resolved 1 case each involving (a) Article III standing, (b) punitive damages, (c) removability of some kinds of nuisance cases, (d) res judicata, (e) the appointments clause, (f) preemption, and a (g) copycat class action.

Be well.

* * * *

Signing of one-page contract to rent car didn’t bind customers to arbitration clause in “rental jacket”.

Scent sprayer patent was obvious.

Grant of right to use trademark in divorce didn’t create “naked license” without quality controls and therefore didn’t abandon trademark.

Copyright owner doesn’t have burden to show copied elements of its work were protectable.

Actionable “use” of trade secret doesn’t require breach of duty.
$5.8 million in punitives on $20,000 in actuals for fraud in sale of Ferrari surpassed due process limits.

Broad warnings about risk of single-stock funds beat ERISA claim 
for failure to warn employees about risk of fund that owned employer’s stock.
Rosy statement that became untrue after investment didn’t support fraud claim.
Nuisance claim didn’t support federal jurisdiction.
Res judicata didn’t bar class claim for life insurance premium overcharges.
To meet test for pleading scienter, Securities Exchange Act claim must link false statements about bad product to people who knew it had problems.
Airline worker who oversaw ticketing and gate agents didn’t engage in moving goods in commerce and therefore didn’t qualify for exemption under Arbitration Act.
Trucking company that hired 167 drivers despite non-competes with competitor that trained them faces trial on competitor’s tortious interference and unjust enrichment claims.
Copycat class action plaintiff could keep first to file plaintiff out of case, settle class claims.
Presence, in “single unit” copyright registration, of works that weren’t published with the other works could invalidate copyright in work that was.
Federal drug laws didn’t preempt state-law class claims for shorting amount of drug.
Beneficiaries of ERISA defined-benefit pension plan lacked standing to sue for harm to plan from fiduciary breach.
Treaty didn’t bar equitable estoppel as ground for enforcing arbitration agreement as to nonsignatory.
Appointments clause in Article II of U.S Constitution doesn’t apply to appointment of federal officials having local duties in Puerto Rico.
Clean Air Act didn’t pre-empt claims of states and counties against Volkswagen for pollution from diesel Volkswagens resold by others.
Statute for fee awards in “exceptional” patent cases doesn’t allow awards for IPR appeals.
Disk drive maker owes HP $469 million as attacks on price-fixing damages model and verdict misfire.
Note for readers

Because my practice focuses on complex commercial disputes–especially antitrust, energy, and intellectual property–I keep daily track of important decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the highest appeals courts in Delaware, New York, and Texas.

You can follow along during the week on Twitter (@contingencyblog) or here at The Contingency each Monday with this Commercial Appeals Roundup.

Check out my profile on the Susman Godfrey website.