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9 From the 9th: Trademark Tacking, Federal Tort Tolling, Church Signs

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 13, 2014 10:23 AM

FindLaw's "SCOTUS Week" is coming to a close -- but wait, what's that? Overtime? Extra innings?

Exactly, and you have the Ninth Circuit to thank for the bonus coverage. Why? Because the Ninth Circuit has nine cases on the Supreme Court's docket so far -- one of which, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, has already been argued and blogged about on our In House blog.

What about the other eight? Here's Part 1 of our Ninth Circuit SCOTUS preview:

SCOTUS Week at FindLaw

Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank (Oral Argument: December 3)

Hana Financial Inc. (HNI) and Hana Bank are distinct entities, both Korean. HB came first, but didn't register the trademark (which it initially used in Korean, not English). HNI came second, and registered its trademark. The district court submitted the prior use/trademark tacking question to a jury. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Issue: Whether the jury or the court determines whether use of an older mark may be tacked to a newer one?

United States v. Kwai Fun Wong (Oral Argument: December 10)

Wong was detained by the INS and allegedly mistreated. She sued a number of officials and the INS. The Federal Torts Claims Act required her to file an administrative claim (and be denied) before bringing suit, so she did. The FTCA also has a six-month statute of limitations for the subsequent lawsuit. The district court took seven months to allow her to amend her complaint, then said that her claim was time-barred. The Ninth Circuit reversed in the name of equitable tolling.

Issue: Whether the six-month time bar for filing suit in federal court under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2401(b), is subject to equitable tolling.

United States v. Marlene June, Conservator (Oral Argument: December 10)

Two people died after their car crossed through a cable median on a highway. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the median even though it failed their crashworthy tests. June, the conservator of the estate, was stonewalled on the depos for FHWA folks for over two years, the statute of limitations for bringing the initial administrative claim. The Ninth Circuit, once again, extended equitable tolling.

Issue: Whether the two-year time limit for filing an administrative claim with the appropriate federal agency under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2401(b), is subject to equitable tolling.

Clyde Reed, et al. v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al. (Oral Argument: TBD)

The Town of GIlbert has a sign code that regulates the size, placement, and display of signs in the town depending on what type of sign it is. Reed is a pastor, and his church's signs are treated worse than, say, political signs. He sued, but the district court and Ninth Circuit held that the ordinance was content-neutral.

Issue: Does Gilbert's mere assertion of a lack of discriminatory motive render its facially content--based sign code content-neutral and justify the code's differential treatment of Petitioners' religious signs?

Check back here later this week for Part 2 of our Ninth Circuit SCOTUS preview.

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