Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al.
Plaintiff Van Sant & Co. (Van Sant) owned and operated a mobile home park in Calhan, Colorado, for a number of years. In 2018, Van Sant began to publicly explore the possibility of converting its mobile home park to an RV park. In October 2018, Calhan adopted an ordinance that imposed regulations on the development of new RV parks, but also included a grandfather clause that effectively exempted the two existing RV parks in Calhan, one of which was connected to the grandparents of two members of Calhan’s Board of Trustees (Board) who voted in favor of the new RV park regulations. Van Sant subsequently filed suit against Calhan, several members of its Board, the owners of one of the existing RV parks, and other related individuals. asserting antitrust claims under the Sherman Act, as well as substantive due process and equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment. Van Sant appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al." on Justia Law
Chase Manufacturing v. Johns Manville Corporation
For decades, Johns Manville Corp. ("JM") was the sole domestic manufacturer and supplier of calcium silicate (or “calsil”), a substance used to make thermal pipe insulation. In March 2018, Chase Manufacturing, Inc. (doing business as Thermal Pipe Shields, Inc., or "TPS") challenged JM’s monopoly status by entering the calsil market with a superior and less expensive product. JM responded by threatening distributors that it would not sell to them if they bought TPS’s competing calsil. By August 2021, more than three years after TPS’s market entry, JM retained over 97% of the domestic calsil market. TPS sued under the Sherman Act, alleging that JM had unlawfully: (1) maintained its monopoly; and (2) tied the availability of its insulation products to distributors’ not buying TPS’s calsil. The district court granted summary judgment for JM. Though the Tenth Circuit affirmed some of the district court’s rulings, it held that the district court erred in finding no genuine issues of material fact on whether JM unlawfully maintained its monopoly after TPS’s market entry. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Chase Manufacturing v. Johns Manville Corporation" on Justia Law
Vitamins Online, Inc. v. HeartWise, Inc.
Plaintiff Vitamins Online, Inc. believed that its competitor, Defendant Heartwise, Inc. (d/b/a NatureWise), was misrepresenting the ingredients of its competitive nutritional supplements and manipulating those products’ Amazon reviews. Vitamins Online sued for violations of the Lanham Act and Utah’s common law Unfair Competition Law. The case proceeded to a bench trial, at the conclusion of which the district court ruled for Vitamins Online and ordered disgorgement of NatureWise’s profits for 2012 and 2013. The court also awarded Vitamins Online attorney fees and costs for NatureWise’s willful misrepresentation and for various discovery abuses. Both parties appealed. NatureWise contended the district court erred in finding that it made false or misleading representations about its own nutritional supplements’ ingredients and its Amazon reviews. NatureWise further asserted the district court erred in concluding that Vitamins Online was entitled to a presumption of injury for these misrepresentations. Vitamins Online contended the district court erred in bifurcating Vitamins Online’s injury into two separate time periods and requiring Vitamins Online to prove that a presumption of injury was applicable separately for each period. Vitamins Online also argued the district court erred in denying disgorgement for the second time period, and for failing to consider an award of punitive damages and an injunction as to NatureWise’s further manipulation of reviews. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court did not clearly err in applying a presumption of injury, and affirmed the award of profits, attorney fees, and costs, and found no reversable error in the amount awarded. The Court also held the district court failed to consider properly Vitamins Online’s request for punitive damages and an injunction; the Court remanded for the district court to reconsider. View "Vitamins Online, Inc. v. HeartWise, Inc." on Justia Law
M Welles & Associates v. Edwell
Plaintiff-Appellant M Welles and Associates, Inc. (“Welles”) appealed a district court's decision concluding that Defendant-Appellee Edwell, Inc. was not liable for trademark infringement, thereby granting granted final judgment for Edwell. "The marks at issue are undoubtedly similar:" Welles used the mark "EDWEL," whereas Edwell uses the mark "EDWELL." Similarity notwithstanding, the magistrate judge found that consumers were unlikely to be confused by the marks because Edwell never intended to copy Welles’s mark, the parties operated in different markets, consumers were likely to exercise a high degree of care in selecting the parties’ services, and there was almost no evidence of actual confusion. On appeal, Welles argued the magistrate judge applied an erroneous legal standard in analyzing likelihood of confusion, urged the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to adopt a presumption of confusion for cases like this one, and contended that the magistrate judge clearly erred in finding no likelihood of confusion. The Tenth Circuit rejected each of Welles’s arguments and affirmed final judgment for Edwell. View "M Welles & Associates v. Edwell" on Justia Law
Elevate Federal Credit Union v. Elevations Credit Union
This appeal concerns a trademark dispute between two credit unions: “Elevate Federal Credit Union” and “Elevations Credit Union.” Elevate sued for a declaratory judgment of noninfringement, and Elevations counterclaimed for trademark infringement under the Lanham Act. The parties proffered expert witnesses and challenged the admissibility of the adversary’s expert testimony. The district court excluded opinion testimony by Elevations’ expert witness and granted summary judgment to Elevate on its claim for a declaratory judgment and on Elevations’ counterclaim. Elevations appealed these rulings. The appeal presented two issues for the Tenth Circuit's resolution: (1) whether the district court acted within its discretion when disallowing Elevations' expert testimony because Elevations failed to disclose information that the expert witness considered; and (2) whether the marks belong to credit unions with differing eligibility restrictions in distinct geographic markets, could the presence of some similarities create a likelihood of confusion. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in disallowing the expert testimony, and the differing eligibility restrictions in differing markets did not create a likelihood of confusion. View "Elevate Federal Credit Union v. Elevations Credit Union" on Justia Law
Sanofi-Aventis U.S. v. Mylan, et al.
Plaintiff Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC (“Sanofi”) sued Defendants Mylan, Inc. and Mylan Specialty, LP (collectively “Mylan”) under Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Sanofi, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, alleged Mylan, the distributor of EpiPen, monopolized the epinephrine auto-injector market effectively and illegally foreclosing Auvi-Q, Sanofi’s innovative epinephrine auto-injector, from the market. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The district court, holding no triable issue of exclusionary conduct, granted Mylan’s motion for summary judgment. After careful consideration, the Tenth Circuit agreed and affirmed the district court. View "Sanofi-Aventis U.S. v. Mylan, et al." on Justia Law
Examination Board, et al. v. International Association, et al.
Competing trade associations offered memberships to home inspectors, who typically inspect homes prior to home sales. Benefits of membership in the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) included online advertising to home buyers, educational resources, online training, and free services such as logo design. From 2015 to 2020, ASHI featured the slogan “American Society of Home Inspectors. Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified” on its website. Contending that tagline mislead consumers, InterNACHI sued ASHI under the federal Lanham Act, claiming the line constituted false advertising because it inaccurately portrayed ASHI’s entire membership as being educated, tested, verified, and certified, even though its membership includes so-called “novice” inspectors who had yet to complete training or become certified. InterNACHI argued this misleading advertising and ASHI’s willingness to promote novice inspectors to the public caused InterNACHI to lose potential members and dues revenues. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of ASHI, concluding no reasonable jury could find that InterNACHI was injured by ASHI’s allegedly false commercial advertising. To this, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concurred: because InterNACHI did not present any evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that InterNACHI was injured by ASHI’s slogan, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for ASHI. View "Examination Board, et al. v. International Association, et al." on Justia Law
Bimbo Bakeries USA, et al. v. Sycamore, et al.
Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. (“Bimbo Bakeries”) owned, baked, and sold Grandma Sycamore’s Home-Maid Bread (“Grandma Sycamore’s”). Bimbo Bakeries alleged that United States Bakery (“U.S. Bakery”), a competitor, and Leland Sycamore (“Leland”), the baker who developed the Grandma Sycamore’s recipe, misappropriated its trade secret for making Grandma Sycamore’s. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bakery on a trade dress infringement claim. The parties went to trial on the other two claims, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Bimbo Bakeries on both. After the trial, the district court denied U.S. Bakery’s and Leland’s renewed motions for judgment as a matter of law on the trade secrets misappropriation and false advertising claims. The district court did, however, remit the jury’s damages award. All parties appealed. Bimbo Bakeries argued the district court should not have granted U.S. Bakery summary judgment on its trade dress infringement claim and should not have remitted damages for the false advertising claim. U.S. Bakery and Leland argued the district court should have granted their renewed motions for judgment as a matter of law, and Leland made additional arguments related to his personal liability. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings because the Court found all of Bimbo Bakeries’ claims failed as a matter of law. View "Bimbo Bakeries USA, et al. v. Sycamore, et al." on Justia Law
Federal Trade Commission, et al. v. Zurixx, et al.
David Efron and Efron Dorado SE (collectively, "Efron") appealed a civil contempt order entered by the district court for violating its preliminary injunction. This litigation began when the Federal Trade Commission and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed a complaint in the federal district court against Zurixx, LLC and related entities. The complaint alleged Zurixx marketed and sold deceptive real-estate investment products. The district court entered a stipulated preliminary injunction, enjoining Zurixx from continuing its business activities and freezing its assets wherever located. The injunction also directed any person or business with actual knowledge of the injunction to preserve any of Zurixx’s assets in its possession, and it prohibited any such person or business from transferring those assets. A week later, the receiver filed a copy of the complaint and injunction in federal court in Puerto Rico, where Zurixx leased office space from Efron. The office contained Zurixx’s computers, furniture, and other assets. The receiver also notified Efron of the receivership and gave him actual notice of the injunction. Although Efron at first allowed the receiver access to the office to recover computers and files, he later denied access to remove the remaining assets and initiated eviction proceedings against Zurixx in a Puerto Rico court. Given these events, the receiver moved the district court in Utah for an order holding Efron in contempt of court for violating the injunction. In response, Efron claimed the assets belonged to him under his lease agreement with Zurixx. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal determined the contempt order was a non-final decision. It therefore dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Federal Trade Commission, et al. v. Zurixx, et al." on Justia Law
Trial Lawyers College v. Gerry Spences Trial Lawyers, et al.
This appeal grew out of a dispute over a program (“The Trial Lawyers College”) to train trial lawyers. The College’s board of directors splintered into two factions, known as the “Spence Group” and the “Sloan Group.” The two groups sued each other: The Spence Group sued in state court for dissolution of the College and a declaratory judgment recognizing the Spence Group’s control of the Board; the Sloan Group then sued in federal court, claiming trademark infringement under the Lanham Act. Both groups sought relief in the federal case. The federal district court decided both requests in favor of the Sloan Group: The court denied the Spence Group’s request for a stay and granted the Sloan Group’s request for a preliminary injunction. The Spence Group appealed both rulings. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined it lacked jurisdiction to review the district court’s denial of a stay. After the Spence Group appealed the federal district court’s ruling, the state court resolved the dispute over Board control. So this part of the requested stay became moot. The remainder of the federal district court’s ruling on a stay did not constitute a reviewable final order. The Court determined it had jurisdiction to review the grant of a preliminary injunction. In granting the preliminary injunction, the district court found irreparable injury, restricting what the Spence Group could say about its own training program and ordering removal of sculptures bearing the College’s logo. The Spence Group challenged the finding of irreparable harm, the scope of the preliminary injunction, and the consideration of additional evidence after the evidentiary hearing. In the Tenth Circuit's view, the district court had the discretion to consider the new evidence and grant a preliminary injunction. "But the court went too far by requiring the Spence Group to remove the sculptures." View "Trial Lawyers College v. Gerry Spences Trial Lawyers, et al." on Justia Law