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A bit of background for all of you non-gamers out there. Epic Games is the creator of the Unreal Engine (and the criminally-underrated Jazz Jackrabbit), industry-standard software used by many developers to make video games. To date, there have been three versions of the engine released, with a fourth planned for release soon.

Silicon Knights licensed Unreal Engine 3 for use in creating video games for the seventh-generation of PC hardware and consoles (Playstation 3 and Xbox 360), but was unsatisfied with the engine and Epic's support and documentation. They sued, but were slapped with a countersuit for failure to pay royalties, theft of trade secrets, copyright infringement, and breach of contract.

This guy got screwed. We can all agree on that, right? Frederick Bouchat designed a "Flying B" logo, faxed it to the Baltimore Ravens offices, and when the franchise began play, they used a logo that is pretty much indistinguishable from his design. If you've heard about this before, it's because he has sued. Repeatedly.

Bouchat actually won, but was awarded only nominal damages. He's made multiple trips to the Fourth Circuit and during the last trip, he prevailed on claims that the team's in-stadium videos, which employed the "Flying B" logo, were not fair use. This time, he's upset about fleeting views of the logo in archival videos and pictures. (The team switched to its current raven profile logo in 1998.)

And this time, he loses, because 10 seconds of less of footage in a documentary, or in a picture documenting the history of a team, is fair use.

Georgia Pacific makes paper towels and paper towel accessories. It's a glamorous life -- especially when you design some spiffy new automatic paper towel dispenser that uses its own proprietary premium paper towels. Of course, premium paper towels come at a premium price, and when that happens, other companies, like von Drehle, rush in to fill the cheap-paper void.

The inevitable result of such competition is litigation. GP accused VD of contributory trademark infringement. Shortly thereafter, they also attempted to enforce their rights against numerous other manufacturers in other venues and jurisdictions. The VD litigation proceeded through summary judgment in their favor, a Fourth Circuit reversal, and a remand before von Drehle sought to amend their answer to reflect preclusion issues.

Building Graphics, Inc., designs family homes. In the 1990s, BG designed three plans that were later sold to other builders. Two of the designs were used to build a pair of houses (one per design) in the Charlotte area. The designs were also available online for purchase as “stock” plans. The third design’s plans were available offline for sale. All three were copyrighted.

Lennar Corporation builds homes in 18 states. Before jumping into a market, they conduct “due diligence” of recently built homes in the area, which includes analyzing floor plans, features, and prices. However, Lennar maintains that it is limited to homes currently being built and sold, not completed examples.

Fourth Circuit Stays 20-Year Ban on Kevlar Competitor

Less than a month after a district court ordered South Korea’s Kolon to stop manufacturing and selling Heracron (a Kevlar competitor), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the company can resume production while it appeals the judgment, Reuters reports.

Last year, a jury found last year that the South Korean manufacturer stole 149 trade secrets relating to the Kevlar fiber, and awarded Kevlar-manufacturer DuPont more than $919 million in damages. In August, District Judge Robert Payne barred Kolon from selling products made with its para-aramid fiber for 20 years, according to Bloomberg.

Rosetta Stone v. Google Trademark Case Headed Back to Court

If you’ve ever used Google’s Adwords, you’ll understand the significance of this case. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday revived parts of a lawsuit by Rosetta Stone against Google for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit alleged that Google was infringing on Rosetta Stone’s trademarks when the Internet giant sold the marks to third-party advertisers for use as search keywords, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd, P'Ship, 08-2381

Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd, P'Ship, 08-2381, concerned a challenge to the district court's determination that defendants' depictions of a logo in season highlight films and in the Ravens corporate lobby were fair use, in entering judgment against the plaintiff, in plaintiff's copyright infringement suit against the Baltimore Ravens football organization and National Football League entities for their unauthorized copying of a Ravens team logo, drawn by plaintiff, that was used for three seasons as the team's official symbol.


Universal Furniture Int'l Inc. v. Collezione Europa USA, Inc., 07-2180, concerned a challenge to the district court's judgment that plaintiff possessed valid copyrights in its furniture designs and that defendant had infringed those copyrights, that defendant acted in contravention of both the Lanham Act and the UDTPA, and an award of more than $11 million in damages to plaintiff, in a copyright suit between competing furniture companies.


Georgia Pac. Consumer Prod., LP. v. Von Drehle Corp., 09-1942

Georgia Pac. Consumer Prod., LP. v. Von Drehle Corp., 09-1942, involved a plaintiff's suit against one of its competitors for violation of various federal and state laws, for marketing and selling to distributors an inferior paper toweling specifically manufactured by defendant for use in plaintiff's trademarked paper towel dispensers.

The court held that plaintiff has proffered sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, in favor of plaintiff with respect to each element of plaintiff's contributory trademark infringement and unfair competition claims under the Lanham Act and its unfair competition claim under North Carolina common law. Thus, the court vacated and remanded the district court' grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant with respect to those claims. The court also vacated and remanded district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant with respect to plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim with limiting instructions since, because the record cannot support a finding that plaintiff had contractual relationships with the end-user customers, this claim is limited to whether defendant tortiously interfered with plaintiff's contractual relationships with distributors.  Lastly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff with respect to its claim , under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act

Related Resource:

George & Co., LLC v. Imagination Entm't Ltd., No. 08-1921

In a trademark infringement action regarding the name of a dice game, summary judgment for defendant is affirmed where: 1) there was no evidence that consumers linked the mark at issue to plaintiff, and such evidence is generally thought to be the most direct and persuasive way of establishing secondary meaning; and 2) plaintiff presented no meaningful evidence that defendant wished to capitalize on plaintiff's mark.

Read George & Co., LLC v. Imagination Entm't Ltd., No. 08-1921

Appellate Information

Argued May 12, 2009

Decided July 27, 2009


Opinion by Judge Hamilton


For Appellant:

Mark S. Sommers, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, Washington, DC

For Appellees:

William Francis Krebs, Bean, Kinney & Korman, PC, Arlington, VA