Articles Posted in U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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In 2004 HD contracted with plaintiff, to develop an inventory classification system, called a taxonomy,for HD’s database. Plaintiff would own the intellectual-property rights and would license HD to use it at no-cost as long as plaintiff remained HD's data-pool vendor and HD continued paying for services. In 2008 HD began to develop an in-house database, incorporating the taxonomy that plaintiff had created. Plaintiff learned of the plan and registered a copyright. HD sent notice terminating the relationship, with a check for $100,000 to purchase a perpetual license, pursuant to the contract. HD notified suppliers to transmit their product data to its in-house system rather than to plaintiff, which returned the check and filed suit. The district judge dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that HD did not violate copyright law and that the case did not belong in federal court. HD acted in accordance with its contract rights. View "Edgenet, Inc. v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., " on Justia Law

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In negotiations for architectural services for construction of a hotel, the parties agreed that defendant would pay an additional $15,000, apart from design fees, if defendant elected not to use plaintiff's construction affiliate. The agreement stipulated that architectural designs would remain plaintiff's intellectual property. Defendant did not use plaintiff's construction affiliate and the relationship deteriorated. Plaintiff claimed that it had no further design obligations; defendant refused to pay what $28,000 demanded by plaintiff. Plaintiff accepted an $18,000 payment in satisfaction, but registered a copyright for designs that it had produced and filed copyright infringement claims against defendant. The district court ruled in favor of defendant, holding that plaintiff had not complied with registration requirements (17 U.S.C. 408(b)) when it submitted re-created designs because its office had been robbed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff did not identify anything in the designs that was original and protectable; the designs were, for the most part, based on the Holiday Inn Express prototype. View "Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Modi" on Justia Law

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One defendant was a research assistant for one of the plaintiffs, an engineering professor, when the professor developed a mathematical model of how electrons behave under certain circumstances. The assistant switched to a different research group without returning a notebook. The plaintiff-professor retained a new assistant, who continued the work and shared some of her material with the defendant. The defendants submitted a symposium paper and an article, describing the model and its applications. The district court rejected copyright claims and state law claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the materials were not protected by the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 102(b) because the model is an idea. The Act protects the expression of ideas, but exempts the ideas themselves from protection; the equation, figures and text are the only ways to express this idea, and, under the merger doctrine, these expressions are not copyrightable. Because state law conversion and fraud claims were the equivalent to assertions under the Act, those claims are preempted. A claim of trade secret misappropriation could not survive on the merits. View "Ho v. Taflove" on Justia Law

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In 1993 a hip-hop group released a track that contains a segment of plaintiff's 1969 song. The district court dismissed plaintiff's 2003 copyright suit. Under the Copyright Act, sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972 are not subject to copyright protection, but may be protected by state law (17 U.S.C. 301(c)). The court denied a motion to amend and awarded $321,995.25 in attorneyâs fees and $10,620.53 in costs. A new claim, filed in state court, was removed to federal court and dismissed as res judicata. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The trial court correctly denied the motion to amend, based on the undue delay between the plaintiff's notice of the defects in his claim and the motion. The fact that the material was not under copyright did not deprive the court of jurisdiction and the second complaint was properly dismissed.