In New Investment Properties, L.L.C. v. ABC Company, et al, 2007 W.L. 4305464 (4TH Cir. 2007), the Court of Appeals addressed the range of personal jurisdiction. Like that of a shepherd’s crook, the court exercised personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. Plaintiffs, New Investment Properties, L.LC. and Creek Apartments Team, L.L.C. (“Creek Apartments) are both Louisiana corporations and the owners of two apartment complexes in New Orleans. Defendant, R. P. Beckendorf, is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Los Angeles. It is an independent insurance agency which obtained flood and wind policies for an apartment complex. The policies were delivered to the Champion Group, Inc., which is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Los Angeles.   The two managers of the plaintiffs are both residents of California, who are also managers of the Champion Group in California.
Continue Reading Where You May Be Doing Business – The Personal Jurisdiction Snare

The issue of the enforceability of an arbitration clause in a service contract was recently addressed in Wright v. 3P Delivery, L.L.C., 2007 WL 3171260 (La. App. 3d Cir. 2007). In this action, Plaintiff Chester Wright and Defendant 3P Delivery, L.L.C. entered into the contract entitled “Driver Service Agreement.” The contract called for the Plaintiff to “provide pick up and delivery service,” to “provide loading and unloading of … shipments,” and to “handle, load, unload, and transport shipments… and equipment.” The contract also contained an arbitration clause. Plaintiff filed suit claiming breach of contract. In response thereto, the Defendant filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay Litigation.
Continue Reading Arbitration Not Applicable to Contract of Labor

A jury in California issued a $6 million verdict against SLB Toys USA, Inc. (also known as ToyQuest) in favor of Wham-O, Inc., the manufacturer of the famous backyard yard toy, the Slip ‘N Slide. Wham-O owns two registrations for design marks for water slides which include the color yellow as part of the registration. Wham-O claimed that its famous yellow water slide has become an instantly recognizable iconic symbol of summer fun, and is famous among both children and adults.
Continue Reading Jury Sides with the Wham-O Slip ‘N Slide

On April 23, 2006, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation aired an episode of “Family Guy” entitled “Peterotica.” In this episode, Peter Griffin, who was an Archie Bunker-like character, enters a porn shop with his friends and comments that the porn shop is cleaner than he expected. One of Peter’s friends explains that Carol Burnett works part-time as a janitor. At this point, an animated character resembling the “Charwoman” from the Carol Burnett Show appears mopping the floor near several blow-up dolls and a rack of “XXX” movies. At this point, a slightly modified version of Carol Burnett’s theme song is playing in the background. One of Peter’s friends remarks, “You know, when she tugged her ear at the end of the show, she was really saying good night to her mom.” Another friend responded, “I wonder what she tugged to say good night to her dad?”
Continue Reading Carol Burnett Action Tossed Based On Fair Use

On March 23, 2007, the Louisiana First Circuit addressed the validity of an arbitration agreement in Lafleur v. Law Offices of Anthony G. Buzbee, 2007 WL 858859 (La. App. 1st Cir. 2007). The opinion has not been released in permanent law reports and is still subject to revision or withdrawal.

The case arises out of a contract between Mr. Lafleur, a Louisiana resident, and his Texas attorneys, Jeffrey M. Stern and the firm of Stern, Miller, and Higdon. Mr. Lafleur retained the Stern defendants to pursue his maritime claim for personal injuries he sustained while traveling on a vessel in navigable waters off the coast of Louisiana. He executed an agreement with the Stern defendants which stated, “Any and all disputes, controversies, claims or demands arising out of or relating to this Agreement or any provisions hereof, the providing of services by the Stern defendants to Mr. Lafleur, or in any way relating to the relationship between the Stern defendants and Mr. Lafleur, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, at law or in equity, for damages or any other relief, made by or on behalf of Mr. Lafleur shall be resolved by binding arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act in accordance with the Commercial Arbitration Rules then in effect with the American Arbitration Association.” It also provided “the expense of any arbitration shall be a Case Advance pursuing the claims” and that “Mr. Lafleur understands and acknowledges that Mr. Lafleur is waiving all rights to a trial by jury or a judge.”Continue Reading FIRST CIRCUIT ADDRESSES ARBITRATION AGREEMENT

The Fifth Circuit recently addressed the issue of copyright ownership in its unreported decision in Pritchett v. Pound, civil action 05-41445 (5th Cir. 2005). In 1981 Ronald Pound was hired by Pritchett, L.P., a business consulting firm founded by E. Price Pritchett. The employment contract provided that he was responsible for “completing regular written assignments and development of new products and procedures.”   It also stated that, “[s]hould the Employee produce any written materials in the course of his work with the Employer, then such shall be done for and on behalf of Employer and all work produced shall be the exclusive property of the Employer.”
Continue Reading FIFTH CIRCUIT ADDRESSES COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP

The Dilution Statute was enacted as part of the Lanham Act in 1996. The Dilution Statute provides in 15 U.S.C. §1125(c) that the owner of a famous mark shall be entitled to an injunction against another person’s commercial use in commerce of a mark or trade name, if such use causes dilution of the distinctive quality of the mark and to obtain such other relief as provided in this subsection. The courts have been wrestling with the meaning of the terms in the Statute since that time.

On October 6, 2006, President Bush signed the Trademark Dilution Act of 2006 into law to further refine the applicability of the Statute and clarify many of the legal issues. Many of the provisions of the Act are important to note.

First, the Act retitles the cause of action to be for Dilution by Blurring and Dilution by Tarnishment. Presumably, this eliminates the possibility of another basis for claiming dilution. Blurring is defined as an association arising from the similarity between a mark and a famous mark that impairs the distinctiveness of the famous mark. Tarnishment is defined as an association that harms the famous mark’s reputation.Continue Reading PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS TRADEMARK REVISION ACT OF 2006

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act, La. 51:1431, et seq., provides a cause of action for misappropriation of a trade secret. However, it is important to recognize that these are specific terms which must be satisfied in order to trigger the remedies provided in the Act.
Continue Reading Efforts to Maintain Trade Secrets to be Scrutinized

The Louisiana Supreme Court addressed the enforceability of an arbitration agreement in Aguillard v. Auction Management Corporation. In this action, defendant Gilmore Auction & Realty Company conducted a public action of certain real estate property. Prior to the auction, a sales brochure was distributed to prospective bidders.
Continue Reading Louisiana Supreme Court Addresses Arbitration Agreements

In La. R.S. 23:921, Louisiana law states every contract or agreement or provision thereof by which anyone is restrained from exercising a lawful profession, trade, or business, of any kind, except as set forth in this Section shall be null and void. It is the Legislature’s way of making the general statement that the state of Louisiana wants people working.
Continue Reading Geographic Scope of the Non-Compete Statute in Louisiana