Justia Business Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
In re: Rearden, LLC
MOVA technology can capture an actor’s facial performance for use in motion picture special effects and video games; it is secured by trademarks, copyrights, and patents, and is reflected in hardware, source code, and physical assets. VGHL claims that Perlman, the head of Rearden, declined to acquire the MOVA assets from OL2 and proposed OL2 sell to a Rearden employee, LaSalle. Perlman introduced LaSalle to Rearden’s corporate attorney who helped LaSalle establish his own company, MO2, and negotiated with OL2. Perlman later demanded that LaSalle convey the MOVA assets to Rearden and terminated LaSalle’s employment when LaSalle refused. MO2 sold the MOVA assets to SHST, which hired LaSalle, and began selling the technology. The Rearden parties claimed that SHST never obtained ownership and that LaSalle was simply hired to handle the acquisition on Rearden’s behalf. SHST sued, alleging that Rearden had made “false or misleading representations ... concerning the ownership of the MOVA Assets ... to mislead the public and actual and prospective users and licensees” and had falsely recorded assignments of the MOVA patents. During discovery, SHST moved to compel Rearden to produce documents exchanged between MO2 and Rearden’s corporate attorney. The district court granted the request, concluding that Rearden had not shown entitlement to assert attorney-client privilege on behalf of MO2 and that LaSalle waived privilege when he shared documents. The Federal Circuit denied a petition for mandamus. Rearden's arguments failed to carry the high burden required on mandamus to overturn the court’s discovery determination. View "In re: Rearden, LLC" on Justia Law
Wells Fargo & Co. v. United States
The Internal Revenue Service denied Wells Fargo’s claims for refunds based on interest-netting under 26 U.S.C. 6621(d) between interest on tax underpayments and interest on tax overpayments. Section 6621(d) reads: To the extent that, for any period, interest is payable under subchapter A and allowable under subchapter B on equivalent underpayments and overpayments by the same taxpayer of tax imposed by this title, the net rate of interest under this section on such amounts shall be zero for such period. Absent an interest-netting provision , a taxpayer might make equivalent underpayments and overpayments yet owe the IRS interest because corporate taxpayers pay underpayment interest at a higher rate than the IRS pays overpayment interest. The Claims Court granted Wells Fargo partial summary judgment, finding that it satisfied the “same taxpayer” requirement, although the current embodiment of the company is the result of seven mergers. The companies involved in these mergers made tax underpayments and overpayments. The Federal Circuit identified three merger “situations” and concluded that two qualified for interest netting and one did not. The situations involved consideration of the whether the entities had separate identities at the time of the payments at issue and the amount of change in the entity’s identity as a result of the merger. View "Wells Fargo & Co. v. United States" on Justia Law
Sightsound Techs., LLC v. Apple Inc.
SightSound’s patents disclose methods for sale and distribution of digital audio and video signals, requiring: connection, by telecommunications lines, between a party’s memory and a second party’s memory; selling digital signals to the second party for a fee through telecommunications lines; transmitting the signal from the first memory to the second memory by telecommunications lines; and storing the signal in the second memory. Apple sought covered business method (CBM) review under the America Invents Act, 125 Stat. 284, arguing that claims were invalid as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. 102. The Patent Board determined that the patents are CBM patents because they recite an activity that is “financial in nature,” and do not include novel, non-obvious technological features, then determined that there was a reasonable likelihood that the claims were anticipated or obvious by disclosures relating to a 1980s CompuSonics computer system. The petitions did not specifically allege obviousness over CompuSonics. The Board granted SightSound additional time and authorized sur-replies and new declaration testimony on the issue of obviousness, then rejected SightSound’s contention that the term “second memory” is limited to non-removable media and held seven claims invalid as obvious. The Federal Circuit found that it lacked jurisdiction to review the decision to consider issues not explicitly raised in the petitions, but affirmed that the patents are CBM patents and the final decision with respect to claim construction and obviousness. View "Sightsound Techs., LLC v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law