Massachusetts Quick Links – October 2012

by Lee Gesmer on November 5, 2012

Oriental Financial Group, Inc. v.  Cooperativa De Ahorro y Crédito Oriental (1st Cir. October 18, 2012) — In this case the First Circuit adopts the trademark law “progressive encroachment doctrine,” joining the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th circuits. The progressive encroachment doctrine may be used as an offensive countermeasure to the affirmative defense of laches (delay in brining suit) where the trademark owner can show that “(1) during the period of the delay the plaintiff could reasonably conclude that it should not bring suit to challenge the allegedly infringing activity; (2) the defendant materially altered its infringing activities; and (3) suit was not unreasonably delayed after the alteration in infringing activity” (quoting Oriental Financial).

Harlan Laboratories, Inc. v. Gerald Campbell (D. Mass. October 25, 2012) — Applying Indiana law, Judge Patti Saris issues a preliminary injunction enforcing a one year non-compete agreement. However, the opinion makes liberal use of Massachusetts and First Circuit precedents.

Blake v. Professional Coin Grading Service (D. Mass. October 6, 2012) — In this case, which involves alleged trade secrets associated with a method to grade the “eye appeal” of coins, Judge William Young concluded that the “method” was not subject to trade secret protection due to the fact it had been publicly disseminated before being disclosed to the defendants. However, Judge Young ruled that the case could proceed based on the alleged misappropriation of a proposed marketing plan.  In addition to his analysis of trade secret law, the case contains an extensive discussion of Lanham Act issues including “reverse confusion” (which is always confusing) as well as the application of Massachusetts law to the intellectual property issues raised in the case (conversion, breach of contract, the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy).

In DeJesus v. Bertsch, Inc. (D. Mass. Oct. 16, 2012) Judge Young conducts a detailed analysis of corporate successor tort liability under the Massachusetts “de facto merger” and “mere continuation” exceptions. In this case he concludes that the defendant corporation is not subject to successor liability.

 

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