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

Recently in Intellectual Property Law Category

The federal court down in San Diego recently issued a big, but relatively brief, ruling in the ongoing battle between Apple and Qualcomm. (To give you some perspective on how "ongoing" this has been, the ruling is listed as Document 737, and it was a ruling on a 12(b) motion.)

As reported by Courthouse News Service, Judge Curiel dismissed (without prejudice) 56 separate claims brought by Apple and its contract manufacturers against Qualcomm basically alleging the chipmaker was trying to double dip by selling the chips then demanding unjustified royalties. Notably though, the case has claims flying every which way and seems poised to get a whole lot messier as it gets further litigated.

The Ninth Circuit has ordered a new trial in the Stairway to Heaven copyright infringement case. And in case you're late to the party on this one, it involves a claim by the heirs of Randy California of the band Spirit, and a four-bar riff in their song Taurus.

Though the two songs date back to the late 60s and early 70s, the case was not filed until 2014, as Mr. California didn't seem to mind during his lifetime, and the heirs brought the action after the song was re-released in 2012 alongside a film. Notably though, the 2016 trial did not include the actual sound recordings, as the copyright for Taurus predates copyrights for sound recordings, but on remand to the trial court, the appellate court panel specifically stated that a jury should be allowed to hear the recordings.

For heads of households and business owners that offer free wifi or internet access, a recent decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals makes it clear that the sharing an IP address doesn't automatically lead to liability when someone else on the shared IP address illegally downloads copyrighted content.

The Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case involves the makers of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler, suing due to illegal downloads via BitTorrent. Cobbler Nevada initially filed the matter as a John Doe case against the IP address basically. However, tracking down the individual(s) who actually did the downloading proved impossible, and as such, Cobbler chose to just go after the registered owner of the address.

While consumers are often delighted and confused as to why certain songs, albums, and movies get remastered, a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals might have lawyers for the music industry paying very close attention ... again.

The decision in ABS Entertainment Corp v. CBS Corporation has some music insiders reeling as the appellate court explained that remastering a recording generally isn't going to be creative enough to be considered a new work for federal copyright protection purposes. This stands in stark contrast to the federal court's decision in 2016.

9th Circuit Chops Down Artists' Royalty Law

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals chopped down California's royalties law for visual artists -- again.

In 2015, the federal appeals court said one part of the California Resale Royalties Act was unconstitutional. The artists sued again, and wound up right back where they started from.

In Close v. Southeby's, Inc., the Ninth Circuit said federal law preempts the state law and applies only to art sold before the U.S. Copyright Act. As a result, the artists litigated for seven years over one year of resale royalties.

In what is surely an upset to many investors, but particularly to the potential class representatives who were seeking to hold Theranos liable for misrepresenting their technology, a federal judge in the Northern District of California has denied their motion for class certification. For Theranos, this may be the first break they've caught in a while (though it could be appealed or potentially refiled).

In short, the court found that the plaintiffs' claims were best resolved as individual claims due to the issue of reliance requiring individualized assessments. Central to the class claims is the assertion that the investors relied on Theranos's representations to the public in investing money in firms that would invest in Theranos. And while federal law would protect Theranos from indirect investors, California law does not.

After a long drawn out battle over a song that was released nearly 20 years ago, this case may be getting some finality -- or maybe it's just a little closer.

It's no secret that the song Big Pimpin features a significant sample from the song Khosara Khosara. Listening to the two, it's clear. Interestingly, Timbaland actually did pay $100,000 to license the song. And luckily for the U.S. artists, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Osama Ahmed Fahmy's claims against Jay-Z and Timbaland lacked standing.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just granted Facebook a brief reprieve from an "embarrassing" upcoming class action trial where they are accused of illegally harvesting biometric "faceprint" data. The appellate court did so by granting a stay of the proceedings pending resolution of an appeal of the class certification.

The case involves Facebook's alleged violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. And, according to Facebook's recent filings, it fought hard to get around the district court judge's order that the social media company contact all affected class members via Facebook. The social media giant claims that doing so would cause irreparable reputational damage and embarrassment.

9th Circuit Splits Shoes in Trademark Case

The Stan Smith is a shoe, but not just any shoe.

It was "Shoe of the Year," with 40 million pairs of the adidas brand sold world-wide in 2014. But then Skechers, a relative newcomer in the shoe business, went and took all that glory.

A legal battle over the trademark shoe followed, and a trial judge ordered Skechers to stop selling infringing shoes. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, puts its foot down in Adidas America v. Skechers USA.

Apple v. Samsung Patent Case Back in Court

In law and in sports, sometimes the game is over long before the final score.

That's what is happening in Apple v. Samsung, a patent infringement case pending in a California federal court. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a $399 million award to Apple and sent it back for further proceedings.

The high court having framed the issue, the trial court will have to bring it home. It's a big game for tech companies that are waiting to see how much Apple wins this time.