Sometimes the reasons for the denial of a summary judgment motion are as instructive as the reasons for a grant. They can educate the reader on what sorts of grounds just aren’t going to work, and why. This was the case with a recent decision by Judge Payne in Marshall.
One of the most haunting moments of the season finale of the original Twin Peaks in 1992 was Jimmy Scott singing Under the Sycamore Trees as things got really, really weird. I think of this song whenever I read opinions in Sycamore IP Holdings v. AT&T, which gave us more to consider recently. Actually, much, much more.
Motions for summary judgment of infringement – as opposed to noninfringement – are rare, and this opinion illustrates why.
Defendants in this case filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Statute of Limitations, Preemption, and Preclusion. Magistrate Judge Craven recommended that the motion be denied with two exceptions, and Judge Mazzant addressed the objections in the attached order.
This is a opinion from Judge Richard Schell resolving six motions in a case involving a defendant’s liability for cargo damage, including most notably, cross motions for summary judgment as to whether Defendant BNSF was liable for cargo damage following a derailment.
It’s often helpful to cut something open to see how it works. During World War II, the Navy cut open a damaged PBY Catalina flying boat and mounted it on a wall in a training facility in Pensacola to help train sailors who would be crewing its sister craft. The cutaway PBY was a local fixture from 1944 to 1997, and was eventually moved to the nearby National Museum of Naval Aviation to sit under a fully restored version, where my youngest son Parker (who’s a certified WW II plane nut) got to study it up close. (That I have a PBY on my work bench at the moment had nothing to do with the trip. Honest)
Readers will recall that I posted last month that a Marshall jury in Judge Roy Payne’s court returned a verdict last month in favor of Ericsson in a case brought against TCL Communications and set damages at $75 million. Two of the numerous pretrial rulings in that case were on the defendant’s motions for summary judgment under Section 101, and on the plaintiff’s claims of willful infringement, both of which Judge Payne denied.
Since the 101 ruling runs against the recent trend of more than half of 101 rulings going the defendant’s way, it is worth a review. But the one I really want to focus on is the willfulness ruling because, as the Court wrote, “it is helpful to explain the standard as it stands today [post-Halo]” which began a metaphorical popping off of the fuselage panels on the standard in order to spend several pages poking around on what the wilfulness standard requires, and what factors need to be considered when deciding whether to bifurcate a willfulness claim. When you’re done reading it, you might find yourself with the same thought I had after studying the interior of a full-size PBY – I have really not understood how this thing fits together, and I have really screwed up ….
Interesting case this week in which Judge Gilstrap granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment of a “fair use” defense in a copyright infringement case in which the defendant alleged various causes of action arising out of an employment termination, and attempted to use a purloined video clip as evidence. The facts look like something off Dr. Phil. In fact, they actually were.
Motions for summary judgment are often used to isolate and dispose of claims that are factually unsupported. A classic example is where, as here, a contract between the parties is alleged to preclude or limit certain claims or elements of damages. Such a case was presented in this recent opinion by Judge Mazzant in Sherman in which
It was just three days ago that I posted on the emergency motion filed by the remaining defendants after last Friday’s noninfringement verdict in Tyler arguing that the verdict against the first defendant collaterally estopped the plaintiff from proceeding against the remaining defendants. This afternoon Judge Gilstrap denied the motion, and trial will presumably proceed as scheduled on Tuesday. The attached order makes for a bracing start to the weekend, as I discuss below.
They aren’t quite as near and dear to my heart as JMOL rulings, but pretrial rulings are a close second. The parties the ground rules for the conduct of the trial, including limine rulings, orders resolving the inevitable disputes over admissibility of expert testimony, and rulings on any summary judgment motions that remain outstanding. The seven rulings from this case, which is set for trial in only a few weeks, are a pretty good example of the genre. Below are copies of the rulings with analysis.