U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


'Google' Trademark Survives 'Genericide'

A federal appeals court ruled Google may keep its trademark for the name, despite claims that the word has come to mean "to search the internet."

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said trademarked names can lose their proprietary meaning as they become generic terms. However, the court rejected an argument that "Google" is synonymous with search engine.

In Elliott v. Google, the court said the plaintiff had presented admissible evidence that "google" is used as a verb. But that does not prove it no longer means "Google," the company.

Ex-Millionaire's Sentence for Fraud Upheld

Where to begin the story of Luke Brugnara, the former real estate mogul turned art con...

His criminal spiral downward began sometime in 2014. His sentence will not be over until about 2022. Perhaps the best place to start is in the middle of his case, when the judge granted him a furlough to meet with his attorneys at the courthouse.

Brugnara ran -- literally. He fled on foot and evaded capture for several days. During the course of the trial, the judge held him in contempt dozens of times. It was a trial of the justice system as much as a trial of the defendant.

Ninth Circuit Questions Trump's Travel Ban

As demonstrators rallied outside a Seattle courthouse broadcasting a live hearing inside, a panel of judges listened to arguments about whether they should consider President Trump's anti-Muslim statements in ruling on his latest travel ban.

Jeffery Wall, acting solicitor general for the United States, told the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals not to consider Trump's campaign statements but only his comments once he took office. Wall said the president's executive order does not ban Muslims, only people from certain countries.

Judge Richard Paez, who asked the most pointed questions during the hearing, compared Trump's order to the one that put Japanese immigrants and their families into American internment camps during World War II.

"There was no reference to Japanese in that executive order, and look what happened," Paez said.

Oakland Law Regulating Donation Bins Doesn't Violate 1st Amendment

A federal appeals court ruled that a city did not violate the First Amendment by regulating the placement of charitable donation bins.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the regulations did not target any messages the bins might have conveyed. Instead, the court said in Recycle for Change v. City of Oakland, the law applies equally to businesses and non-profits to reduce illegal dumping, graffiti and blight.

"The ordinance regulates the unattended collection of personal items for distribution, reuse, and recycling, without regard to the charitable or business purpose for doing so," Judge Ronald Gould wrote. "That conduct is neither expressive nor communicative."

Employers Can Pay Women Less Than Men Due to Salary History, 9th Cir. Rules

A woman can be paid less than a man for the same work based on salary histories, a federal appeals court said.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that pay disparities between men and women are lawful if the difference is based on salary history and not gender. It is equally true whether a man or a woman is paid more than the other.

In Rizo v. Yovino, the appeals court turned back arguments by the plaintiff and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that unequal pay perpetuates gender discrimination. An employer may pay men and women differently without undermining the Equal Pay Act, the court said.

Breaking Up the Ninth Circuit Is Hard to Do

After another legal setback, President Trump said Tuesday he was 'absolutely' considering proposals to split the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because of its 'ridiculous rulings' against him.

Trump has repeatedly criticized judges since his first and second travel bans were overruled, and spewed more of the same after the latest decision knocking down his order against sanctuary cities. He said his opponents were "judge shopping" because of the circuit's reputation as a liberal jurisdiction.

"There are many people that want to break up the Ninth Circuit," he said. "Everybody immediately runs to the Ninth Circuit because they know, that's like, semi-automatic."

While Trump's tirade is new, the call to reorganize the Ninth Circuit is not. Republicans have been complaining about the "Ninth Circus" since Jimmy Carter was president.

Cell Phone Warning Law Upheld for City of Berkeley

A divided federal appeals court has upheld Berkeley's law requiring cell phone retailers to display warnings about radio frequency radiation in the devices.

In CTIA v. City of Berkeley, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave a win to the city, which passed the law to tell people about the danger of putting cell phones in their pant pockets or bras. But it is a loss for wireless retailers -- and a puzzle for free speech advocates -- because the law compels a disclosure that they claim is not true.

"Berkeley's compelled disclosure does no more than to alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the FCC requires, and to direct consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure," Judge William Fletcher wrote. "Far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complements and reinforces it."

Appellate Judge John Noonan Remembered

Like other accomplished jurists who have passed on, Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. left a legacy of decisions that will live on in American jurisprudence.

Some may recall his opinion in a landmark decision to uphold physician-assisted suicide, ultimately adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court. Others may remember his decision to stay the execution of Robert Alton Harris, who later became the first man to be executed in California in 25 years.

A few may remember the 13 books he wrote on law, history, and religious freedom during his 31 years on the bench. But those who knew him best at the court -- especially his law clerks -- will never forget that he dutifully wrote every opinion himself on yellow legal pads.

C-SPAN to Air Trump Travel Ban Case Live

Anticipating widespread public interest, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has authorized live television broadcast of arguments over President Trump's travel ban.

C-SPAN will also carry the feed live for other broadcasters on May 15, 2017, from the William K. Nakamura Courthouse in Seattle, Washington. The court will independently stream arguments for internet viewers.

The case, which marks the second time Trump has run afoul of the courts by banning nationals from certain countries, has picked up public steam since Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized Judge Derrick Watson for blocking the president's orders.

In 1992, California adopted the nation's first anti-SLAPP law, and arguably its strongest. The statute, meant to stop "strategic litigation against public participation," is a powerful weapon against lawsuits that may chill free speech. For example, an anti-SLAPP motion halts discovery, allows for quick appeals, and provides for the award of attorney's fees. It is perhaps the most used anti-SLAPP statute in the country, with a huge body of relevant caselaw.

California's anti-SLAPP statute isn't limited to the Golden State's borders, either. In 1999, the Ninth Circuit ruled that anti-SLAPP motions are available in federal courts. Thus, knowing how to use the law, or how to defend against it, is essential, even to practitioners outside the state lines.