Articles Posted in 2012


Check out the latest crop of featured cases from Justia’s Dockets.

Hank Azaria v. Craig Bierko et al., (US District Court, C.D. California)

Actor Hank Azaria, well-known for his voice actor roles in “The Simpsons” television show, filed a copyright lawsuit seeking declaratory relief against actor Craig Bierko in a dispute over the voice and other rights of ‘Jim Brockmire,’ a baseball announcer character.

Hank Azaria Sues Over a Character Voice, (11/16/12)

The People of the State of California v. eBay, Inc., (US District Court, N.D. California)

United States of America v. eBay, Inc., (US District Court, N.D. California)

The U.S. Department of Justice filed this antitrust lawsuit against eBay because of its an agreement between the online marketplace company and Intuit, a software company that develops financial and tax preparation software. The non-competition agreement between the two companies prohibits either from hiring employees from the other company. The two companies otherwise compete directly for highly specialized computer engineers and research scientists. California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a lawsuit against both companies under California law, citing the state’s stricter restrictions against anticompetitive behavior.

eBay, Intuit Signed Noncompetitive Agreement, Government Alleges, The Huffington Post (11/16/12)

Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated v. International Securities Exchange, LLC (US District Court, N.D. Illinois)

The Chicago Board Options Exchange filed a $525 million dollar patent infringement lawsuit against a competing options exchange, International Securities Exchange, alleging that three of its Quote Risk Monitor patents are being infringed.

CBOE Sues International Securities Exchange Over Patents, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (11/13/12)

Posted in: Legal Research

On Friday, a California company called Innovative Automation LLC filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the complaint alleges that Apple’s iCloud product infringes on a patent owned by Innovative Automation.

The first patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 7,174,362, is entitled “Method and System for Supplying Products from Pre-Stored Digital Data in Response to Demands Transmitted via Computer Network” and was issued in 2007. Innovative Automation claims that Apple’s iCloud product and service infringes on this patent in the way that it duplicates digital data.

The complaint also alleges that iCloud infringes on a second patent owned by the plaintiff—U.S. Patent No. 7,392,283, entitled “Method and System for Supplying Products from Pre-Stored Digital Data in Response to Demands Transmitted Via Computer Network” and issued in 2008. According to the complaint, Apple’s iCloud product and service infringes on this patent for the same reason as its other patent.

According to a business search through the California Secretary of State, the company Innovative Automation was created in 2011 and is based in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. Its registered agent is Sungil Lee, who is CEO of an education software company called Innovative Knowledge, Inc. Lee is also named as the inventor of both patents at issue in this case.

As the blog Patently Apple points out, “this plaintiff has filed a similar lawsuit against Amazon within the last 24 hours claiming that their Kindle and distribution service “Cloud Player” violates the very same patents used against Apple.”

Tagged: Apple, icloud, patent

Yesterday, Google was named in a class action lawsuit by a plaintiff identified only as “A.K., as next friend of minor child J.K.” Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the lawsuit alleges that Google has violated (and continues to violate) the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (the “Act”) and various state privacy laws by its “intentional and willful interception, scanning, and use of” emails sent to and from J.K., a minor child.

The plaintiff claims to represent similarly situated minor children in the state of Illinois and alleges, among other things, that Google’s Gmail product violates federal and state law. Section 2511 of the Act makes punishable anyone who “intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication.”

This is not the first time Google has been sued for Gmail’s use of email scanning to deliver personalized ads. In November 2010, Keith Dunbar filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging the same violations. The case was transferred in June 2012 to Judge Lucy Koh on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and is still in discovery at the time of writing.


Defense attorneys for Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg won’t oppose attorney Dean Boland’s motion to withdraw from representing plaintiff Paul Ceglia, as long as he can’t have his cake and eat it too, according to a new federal court filing (read it below).

First, they insist that a withdrawal “not be construed as authorizing any further delay” in the case, including a pending decision on a defense motion to dismiss Ceglia’s “fraudulent lawsuit” seeking a fifty-percent ownership stake in Facebook.

Second, Facebook’s attorneys want Boland’s in camera communication to the judge in support of his withdrawal made public, arguing that there is nothing confidential about Boland’s “personal reasons” for withdrawing because, they say, at the same time he filed a “‘self-serving’ memorandum that he admits was for ‘the media.'”


I’m sure most of our readers are familiar with Justia’s Civil Dockets, a section on our site which allows users to search through civil dockets filed in the US Federal District and Appellate Courts since 2004. What I’m not sure about is whether folks realize that on a weekly basis our team of editors here at Justia picks out cases from the dockets filings we feel are worthy of being a featured case. Featured cases in this regard include matters grabbing headlines that week in both the national and legal press, patent suits from the tech world, and other noteworthy cases.  When we feature a case, our editors essentially set in motion a process in which the initial complaint or filing is downloaded and we grab the rest of the docket sheet so that our users can (for free) see what has been filed up to that point in the proceedings. Depending on how important we feel a a lawsuit is, we’ll download all the actual filings in a docket and/or set up tracking so that when new filings are added, our users will be able to see or download those as well. Featured cases in Dockets are denoted by a yellow star next to the case name.

We thought it might be a great idea to start up a weekly blog post which lists various cases we’ve recently featured. To the extent we can, we’ll give a brief synopsis of the suit and also link over to any news articles and analysis which more fully discuss the matter.


Posted in: Legal Research

Yesterday, on November 13, 2012, Nevada company 1st Technology LLC filed a lawsuit against Facebook in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that the social networking company infringed on several patents.

According to the complaint, the managing member of 1st Technology is Dr. Scott Lewis, who invented one of the patents at issue (U.S. Patent No. 5,564,001), which the USPTO issued issued in 1996. The complaint alleges infringement of three patents in total, all owned by 1st Technology:


After President Barack Obama was reelected last week, several petitions to secede appeared on the White House website. The petition feature of the site promises that “if a petition meets the signature threshold [of 25,000 signatures within 30 days], it will be reviewed by the Administration and we will issue a response.” The Houston Chronicle reports that by 3:40 PM EST, the petition to allow Texas to secede had already accumulated over 25,000 signatures. At the time of this writing, it has over 77,000 signatures.

Petitions on behalf of other states have received less attention and fewer signatures, but several have met or are approaching the 25,000 threshold, as well. Louisiana (29,000), Florida (23,000), Georgia (22,000), Alabama (21,300), Tennessee (20,700), and North Carolina (20,200) have all accrued a substantial number of supporters.

On more than one occasion, Texans (both officials and non-officials) have suggested that their state “has the right” to secede. Texas Governor Rick Perry has disavowed the online movement to secede, despite having previously acknowledged that secession might be an option. In 2009, the state legislature passed a resolution asserting state sovereignty—a resolution Governor Perry supported—although it has no binding effect on the federal government.

Posted in: Laws, Legal News

Yesterday, on November 12, 2012, Texas company NovelPoint Tracking LLC filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. for patent infringement. Brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the suit alleges that certain Apple products, and specifically the iPhone 4S, infringe on a patent owned by the plaintiff.

That patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,442,485, is entitled “Method and Apparatus for an Automatic Vehicle Location, Collision Notification, and Synthetic Voice,” and was registered with the USPTO on August 27, 2002. NovelPoint Tracking asserts that it is the exclusive owner of all rights, title, and interest in the patent, which was originally invented by Wayne W. Evans. The patent essentially describes using a method of using a GPS module to determine a vehicle or product’s location.

Relatedly, NovelPoint Tracking recently brought a lawsuit against Ford, alleging that its SYNC project infringes on two of its patents—6,442,485 (the patent at issue in the case against Apple) and 6,266,617.

Tagged: Apple, gps, patent

Dawson Farms v. Risk Management Agency, US 8th Cir. (11/7/12)
Agriculture Law, Government & Administrative Law

Dawson Farms challenged the RMA’s denial of its crop-insurance claim alleging loss due to “tuber rot” in stored potatoes. A final agency review affirmed the RMA’s denial of Dawson Farms’ claim, finding that the insurance adjuster’s sampling of the stored potatoes followed adequate sample procedures. Dawson Farms appealed the final agency decision to the district court, which affirmed. The court believed that, in light of the nature of the hearing officer’s finding under review, the deputy director’s statements made it reasonably discernable that the deputy director applied the correct legal standard and considered the record for the proper purpose of reviewing the hearing officer’s decision for substantial evidence. The hearing officer based his conclusion largely on the testimony of an expert in potato pathology. The court also believed that, to the extent the deputy director’s determination was a rejection of the hearing officer’s finding that the adjuster had a duty to re-sample, the issue under review was a question of law. Consequently, the court found no abuse of discretion or arbitrary and capricious action by the deputy director. Further, the agency determination was supported by substantial evidence.

Vance v. Rumsfeld, US 7th Cir. (11/7/12)
Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Injury Law, International Trade, Military Law

American citizen-civilians, employees of a private Iraqi security services company, alleged that they were detained and tortured by U.S. military personnel while in Iraq in 2006, then released without being charged with a crime.  Plaintiffs sought damages and to recover seized personal property. The district court denied motions to dismiss. In 2011, the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part, holding that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged Secretary Rumsfeld’s personal responsibility and that he is not entitled to qualified immunity. On rehearing en banc, the Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that a common-law claim for damages should not be created. The Supreme Court has never created or even favorably mentioned a nonstatutory right of action for damages on account of conduct that occurred outside of the U.S. The Military Claims Act and the Foreign Claims Act indicate that Congress has decided that compensation should come from the Treasury rather than from federal employees and that plaintiffs do not need a common-law damages remedy in order to achieve some recompense.  Even such a remedy existed, Rumsfeld could not be held liable. He did not arrest plaintiffs, hold them incommunicado, refuse to speak with the FBI, subject them to loud noises, or threaten them while they wore hoods.

Read More:
Alleged torture victims can’t sue Rumsfeld, The Boston Globe (11/8/12)


Apple must pay more than $368 million in damages to VirnetX Inc. according to a jury verdict returned in federal court yesterday (see it below). The same day the verdict was reached, VirnetX and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) filed a new patent lawsuit against Apple.

In 2010, VirnetX said that its patent portfolio was “derived from a Central Intelligence Agency security project”

The four (4) patents in this litigation reportedly stem from technology for secure communications developed for the CIA by SAIC.