Friday, January 23, 2015
This ad uses footage of Washington's team to make the point that its racially inflammatory name and mascot are unnecessary. Consider the TM and copyright implications!
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Steve Clowney argues that Prawsfblawg's disclosures of West-sponsored content aren't enough, given how much a sponsored post looks like a regular post. How would you advise a client to comply with the FTC's guidance here? Would the purported sophistication of legal readers matter?
Liveperson, Inc. v. 24/7 Customer, Inc., 2015 WL 170348, No. 14 Civ. 1559 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 13, 2015)
LivePerson “provides customers with live-interaction and customer engagement technology for e-commerce websites, enabling businesses to interact in real-time with their website customers.” Its competitor 24/7 used to provide human call-center operators for customers’ call centers, but more recently developed its own live-interaction technology. The parties entered into cooperative marketing/service contracts to serve certain customers in order to offer joint solutions—LP’s tech and 24/7’s call center personnel. 24/7 thus obtained a limited license to access and use LP’s IP.
24/7 allegedly misappropriated LP’s software and sold it as its own, along with other alleged wrongdoing: accessing LP’s back-end systems to copy LP’s technology and interfering with LP’s client relationships. 24/7 allegedly designed its competing software to interfere with LP’s software, so that a customer using both technologies would experience poor performance from LP, and also designed the software to collect performance data from LP’s data. 24/7 also allegedly poached LP employees, falsely claimed that its software was the “first predictive or smart chat platform,” and disseminated fabricated and disparaging LP performance metrics to clients.
First, the court dismissed LP’s copyright infringement claim as inadequately pled because it didn’t explain when the infringement allegedly took place, neither as a start time or a period of infringement. However, alleging that 24/7 copied the entire software module adequately alleged that it copied protectable elements.
The DMCA claim was also inadequately pled. While courts have have held that password protection, DVD encryption measures, activation and validation keys, and a “secret handshake” protocol have all been found to be protected technological measures, the complaint didn’t allege any of this. LP alleged, somewhat contradictorily, that 24/7 had access to its back-end under their contractual relationship and misused its access and also that 24/7 improperly used its knowledge of LP’s customer-facing software to impersonate LP and gain unauthorized access to its secure internal system, at which point 24/7 allegedly installed spyware and code to degrade LP’s software’s functionality. Also, LP alleged that 24/7 reverse engineered LP’s software after accessing LP’s internal system.
The complaint didn’t allege that 24/7 used reverse engineering to circumvent LP’s security measures, but rather that 24/7 breached its computers in order to carry out reverse engineering. This didn’t allege circumvention. As for the alleged mimicking of LP to gain access to LP’s secure system, LP didn’t adequately allege what technological measure the mimicry circumvented. Successful complaints have “explicitly referenced a password, encryption system, software protocol, validation key, or some other measure designed to thwart unauthorized access to a protected work.” Alleging that 24/7 “circumvented LivePerson’s security measures” didn’t provide adequate notice.
The CFAA claim was also inadequately pled because LP didn’t plead facts showing that 24/7 exceeded its authorization, and also didn’t adequately allege damages. There’s legal uncertainty about whether a user who abuses authorized access can trigger the CFAA’s ban on exceeding authorized access. The Second Circuit hasn’t ruled on the issue and other circuits and other district courts within the Second Circuit are split. The court here joined the majority narrow approach, so that abusing authorized access isn’t actionable. Among other things, this avoids adding a subjective intent requirement to the Act; comports with the type of “loss” against which the CFAA protects (which don’t include losses related to misappropriation of information); and complies with the rule of lenity governing ambiguous criminal laws. Exceeding authorized access is therefore defined as having permission to access certain information on a computer, but accessing other information as to which there is no permission. Here, LP’s allegations focused on 24/7’s misuse of data obtained through authorized access, or didn’t explain the means by which 24/7 allegedly gained unauthorized access.
In addition, LP didn’t adequately allege damage or loss over $5000, because actionable damage or loss under the CFAA has to relate to LP’s computer systems. Allegations that 24/7’s conduct endangered LP’s relationships with several major clients, diluted its good will, injured its reputation, and misappropriated/devalued its IP didn’t qualify.
However, misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract were adequately pled, as well as some aspects of the intentional interference with prospective and existing economic relationships claims. LP alleged improper interference from providing inaccurate performance data to LP’s clients, when the data required access to LP’s confidential system and differed significantly from LP’s performance data shown when its technology was used by other call-center labor providers/employees. (Put that way, it sounds like LP did perform badly in conjunction with 24/7; inaccuracy isn’t really the complaint, but misleadingness about the source of the performance.) LP also alleged that it found 24/7 code “expressly designed to suppress the proper operation of LivePerson’s technology, such as preventing livechat sessions from being initiated, and/or eliminating LivePerson’s ‘chat’ button from appearing altogether” on its clients’ websites. That would constitute improper interference.
By contrast, the alleged interference with LP’s employees wasn’t adequately pled. LP didn’t allege noncompete agreements and failed to meet its high burden of alleging wrongful means, such as fraud or threats, to get employees to quit. Raiding isn’t itself wrongful means.
Further, the Lanham Act claim was adequately pled. LP alleged that 24/7 falsely claimed to have developed the first predictive chat platform, while LP actually did so, resulting in harm to LP’s goodwill and reputation as well as misappropriation and devaluation of its IP. (Dastar problem, especially with the misappropriation/devaluation parts?) LP didn’t provide the full context of the allegedly false ad, making it hard to evaluate the “entire mosaic” of the ad, as required. 24/7 correctly argued that context could establish truth, e.g., that 24/7 was promoting innovative, unique features; or “first” could be immaterial puffery, “considering the sophistication of the clients in this industry and the unlikelihood that claims of developing the ‘first’ such software would influence their purchasing decisions.” But materiality is generally a fact question not resolvable on the pleadings; LP was instead ordered to provide a more definite statement about context and materiality.
The common law unfair competition claim was also adequately pled. Unfair competition is generally limited to passing off, acting solely to destroy a rival, and using independently illegal methods. Here, allegedly embedding spyware on LP’s clients’ websites to engage in reverse engineering, injecting tracking markers into LP’s systems to facilitate unauthorized data mining, manipulating LP’s software on client deployments to reduce its performance, and deploying software code designed to suppress the proper operation of LP’s technology, would either be independently illegal or would constitute passing off. (Hunh? How is this passing off?)
Finally, unjust enrichment was adequately pled.
Fascinating story on top pinners on Pinterest, which suggests that Pinterest’s policies deter people from disclosing sponsorships (which the FTC wants them to do; could it go after Pinterest for deterring users' compliance?), and also contains the interesting note that one of the top pinners prides herself on introducing new, previously unpinned images to Pinterest—which might have some copyright implications.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
International Foundation of Employee Ben. Plans, Inc. v. Cottrell, No. WDQ–14–1269, 2015 WL 127839 (D. Md. Jan. 7, 2015)
IFEBP sued Cottrel, d/b/a HR Vantage, for false advertising, trademark infringement, and related claims. IFEBP is a nonprofit that trains and certifies professionals in employee benefits and compensation, with registrations for CEBS and Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (certification marks allowing certified individuals to use those designations). Cottrell provides disability retirement counseling to federal employees, and uses those designations on her website and LinkedIn profile, but doesn’t have certification from IFEBP.
IFEBP alleged harm in the form of “lost sales of [IFEBP’s] educational and examination fees,” as well as harm to its reputation because Cottrell “is providing substandard services,” and “customers receiving such sub-standard services from Cottrell will presume ... that [IFEBP has] certified [Cottrell’s] sub-standard services.”
Cottrell argued that IFEBP didn’t show harm causation from her alleged use of its marks and that its claims failed because they weren’t competitors. The court found that her competition-based argument applied to both the §43(a) false designation and the §43(a) false advertising claims. The court then reasoned that Lexmark applied to both prongs of §43(a). The Supreme Court relied on the Lanham Act’s purpose, which applies to all its provisions; “there is no reason to think the Supreme Court would apply different standing requirements to a false designation claim.” Indeed, the Court then observed that “[m]ost of the enumerated purposes are relevant to false-association cases.” Thus, direct competition wasn’t required for either claim.
IFEBP plausibly alleged a likelihood of confusion. And confusion wasn’t a necessary element of its false advertising claim; when a representation “is literally false, a violation may be established without evidence of consumer deception.” The allegations sufficiently delineated literal falsity. Plus, IFEBP alleged economic and reputational injury: Cottrell displayed its certification without paying “educational and examination fees,” and customers would believe that IFEBP “certified [Cottrell’s] sub-standard services.” (That first injury doesn’t really seem like Lexmark injury. It occurs to IFEBP as vendor of services, the flip side of injury suffered as a customer, which isn’t within the Lanham Act’s definition of harm according to the Supreme Court.)
Ecore International, Inc., v. Downey, No. 12–2729, 2015 WL 127316 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 7, 2015)
Ecore makes recycled rubber flooring; defendants allegedly relabeled and resold Ecore’s goods as its own. Downey owns an engineering consulting company that provided consulting services to Ecore, and founded and was the sole shareholder of defendant Pliteq, also in the business of sound-control flooring products. Defendants bought Ecore products through third parties, first buying unlabeled goods and adding Pliteq labels. Later, defendants had workers remove the Ecore labels and replace them with Pliteq ones. Defendants allegedly took precautions to prevent the relabeling from being discovered, including instructing employees not to mention Pliteq when communicating with Ecore. Defendants also published marketing materialis misrepresenting that Pliteq created and manufactured the products.
Defendants argued that there was an email agreement between Downey and Ecore to relabel to deal with some competitors, and that Ecore used similar private labeling strategies with other partners. Ecore denied this and denied that the relevant person even read the part of the message at issue. The court found that the relevant email, while it appeared to discuss competitors’ products, was “difficult to comprehend fully from an outside perspective, even with the benefit of some deposition testimony.” The key portion says:
If Irvine is willing to accept alternates, I have told Mark that we will sell a private label of QT [Ecore’s product brand], called Pliteq GenieMat, through our distributor at $0.75/SF. It won’t have the same level of testing, or say QT on it, but at least is comparable with the SoundSeal testing, and we can provide a letter saying it is a private label as manufactured by Ecore. This should alleviate their need for lowest price.
Ecore’s response email said “F* * * them ... cut their throat on price....this is a war and our nuclear device is not ready yet. The USRR suit is going to cost a f* * *ing fortune to defend. Take no prisoners ... we’ll clean up the market mess once we have the reissue in hand” (ellipses in original). Ecore said that the recipient didn’t even read the relevant portion of the email, and also noted that defendants’ conduct was inconsistent with the alleged proposal because the relabeling never came with any sort of “letter saying it is a private label as manufactured by Ecore.” Plus, defendants resold the products at a higher price, which didn’t seem in keeping with the alleged agreement.
Given the highly factual nature of the dispute, the court denied summary judgment for Ecore. The court also noted that defendants’ argument that relabeling/private labeling was common wasn’t sufficiently shown. They cited a case finding that, “because it was common in the clothing industry for retailers to add their own labels, retailer labels do not express or are not understood by consumers as a designation of origin at all, and thus they cannot constitute false designations of origin for the second element of a reverse passing off claim.” But defendants only offered examples of Ecore’s own private labeling agreements; they didn’t show a common industry practice. Plus, defendants didn’t just relabel. They made express statements of origin on their website and in marketing materials. However, the existence of private labeling agreements did potentially enhance the credibility of the claim that Ecore had a similar agreement with defendants, further showing that the issue should be for the jury.
The false advertising claims were based on largely the same misrepresentations as to the source of the products in marketing materials. Ecore argued that actual deception and materiality could be presumed given literal falsity. But this presumption only applied for injunctive relief, not money damages. Ecore’s off-hand reference to evidence that two actual consumers were misled wasn’t enough to grant it summary judgment. Those incidents involved a sales rep who wrongly tried to push customers into buying defendants’ products rather than Ecore’s, which had little or nothing to do with the advertising statements at issue.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Medscript Pharmacy, LLC v.My Script, LLC, LLC, No. 14 C 0469, 2015 WL 149062 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 12, 2015)
The complaint alleged that Medscript was a Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA) certified compounding pharmacy, while defendants are compounding pharmacies/former owners and members of Medscript. The non-pharmacy defendants sold their interests in Medscript and received a patient list containing health information to verify the amount of payments they’d get from Medscript post-closing. The non-pharmacy defendants allegedly gave the patient list to My Script and defendant Valuscript to market those pharmacies and get prescribers to fill prescriptions with those pharmacies, in alleged violation of HIPAA.
My Script employees or agents allegedly falsely told Medscript patients and prescribers that (1) Medscript was out of business and My Script was taking over its patients and would fill the patients’ prescriptions, or (2) Medscript had changed its name to My Script, and My Script would fill the patients’ prescriptions going forward. My Script also made these false statements to prescribers. Also, Valuscript allegedly sent patients unauthorized prescriptions that were supposed to be filled by Medscript, and billed the patients’ insurance carriers for the prescriptions. Finally, My Script and Valuscript allegedly sent their representatives prescription pads to give to prescribers that had Medscript’s name on them but My Script’s and Valuscript’s fax numbers. Thus, prescribers would believe they were filling prescriptions with Medscript but were unknowingly filling them with My Script and Valuscript.
First, defendants argued that the complaint didn’t plead with sufficient specificity under Rule 9(b), and the court agreed that allegations of false statements/passing off with the prescription pads triggered Rule 9(b). But the complaint adequately alleged the who (My Script employees), what (out of business/name change/prescription pads—direct quotes not needed), where (to Medscript patients and prescribers), when (after they received the patient list), and how (use of the patient list). Thus, the Lanham Act claims and related claims survived Rule 9(b) scrutiny. (Note the interesting fact that the court applies Rule 9(b) to what’s ordinarily considered a classic trademark claim, passing off, and courts don’t often do that with §43(a)(1)(A) claims.) But the civil conspiracy claim wasn’t pled with sufficient particularity.
Defendants argued that the allegations didn’t establish “commercial advertising or promotion” because the statements weren’t made to the general population or a significant portion of the industry, but were person-to-person communications. Advertising or promotion is usually directed to a subset of the public. But the Lanham Act requires that communications be made to a significant portion of the relevant industry. Here, the relevant industry was the compounding pharmacy industry. It was plausible that Medscript’s patients and prescribers contacted by defendants represented a significant portion of that industry, though factual development might ultimately show otherwise. Thus both Lanham Act and related state law claims (including tortious interference) survived.
Anthony Antonellis creates art objects/sculptures with bottles of Poland Spring water and knockoff wristbands. Nestle objects, claiming likely confusion. What is the appropriate test? Rogers or something else? Antonellis is looking for a pro bono lawyer.
Friday, January 09, 2015
Thursday, January 08, 2015
Barbara Biasi & Petra Moser, Does Cheap Access Encourage Science? Evidence from the WWII Book Replication Program.
Policies that reduce the costs of accessing prior knowledge (which is covered by copyrights) are becoming increasingly prominent, even though systematic empirical evidence on their effects continues to be scarce. This paper examines the effects of the 1942 Book Republication Program (BRP), which allowed US publishers to replicate science books that German publishers had copyrighted in the United States, on the production of new knowledge in mathematics and chemistry. Citations data indicate a dramatic increase in citations to BRP books after 1942 compared with Swiss books in the same fields. This increase is larger for BRP books that experienced a larger decline in price under the program. We also find that effects on citations are larger for disciplines in which knowledge production is less dependent on physical capital: Citations to BRP books increased substantially more for mathematics (which depends almost exclusively on human capital) than chemistry (which is more dependent on physical capital).
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Via Sarah Burstein:
Worldwide Diamond Trademark S, Ltd., v. Blue Nile, Inc., No. 14-cv-03521 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 6, 2014)
Worldwide sought a preliminary injunction in its patent and trade dress lawsuit against Blue Nile for allegedly copying its Hearts and Arrows trade dress/diamond design. The court declined, citing Worldwide’s failure to show irreparable harm; any lost sales or goodwill could be adequately compensated with damages, since the only record evidence was that Worldwide had lost some business/business opportunities. Other posited harms were speculative and remote.
Worldwide makes cushion-cut diamonds, called the Ideal Cushion, which generate a “hearts and arrows” pattern visible in the presence of light at low magnification. It has a patent for the design of its cushion-shaped diamond and a pending application for “Ideal Cushion with corresponding diamond design.” Worldwide diamonds come from Canada and thus cost more than diamonds from other sources; to maintain its profits, Worldwide charges a premium, and allegedly cultivated a reputation of exclusivity by telling customers that the Ideal Cushion cannot be obtained from any other source. Worldwide only sells its proprietary cuts to brick and mortar retailers. It also has a relationship with De Beers allowing it to obtain high quality rough diamonds, and certifications from Forevermark, the De Beers brand reserved for the most exclusive and reputable diamond manufacturers.
Blue Nile, an online retailer, also sells cushion-cut diamonds that generate a hearts and arrows pattern. Blue Nile also has a patent for its diamonds.
Worldwide sought a preliminary injunction, and irreparable harm is the most important prerequisite. Irreparable injury requires injury that is neither remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent.
The evidence the court discussed was as follows: Worldwide marketed itself as the exclusive provider of cushion-cut diamonds that generate a hearts and arrows pattern, enabling it to charge a premium. But soon after its introduction, Blue Nile began selling the Blue Nile diamond. Worldwide claimed that an unidentified number of its retailers returned an unquantified number of the Ideal Cushion diamonds t because their customers believed that they could purchase similar diamonds directly from Blue Nile. In addition, Worldwide claimed that it lost other opportunities for new business because customers were expressing doubt that Worldwide Diamond was the exclusive provider of cushion-cut diamonds that generate a hearts and arrows pattern. A Malaysian diamond retailer decided to delay a contract with Worldwide and a U.S. based jewelry manufacturer and distributor “withdrew [its] interest” in selling the Ideal Cushion. Worldwide was also concerned that loss of exclusivity could threaten its relationship with Forevermark, De Beers, and two U.S. retailers, which could negatively impact its reputation, sales, and revenues. Finally, Worldwide argued that Blue Nile’s competition would force Worldwide to lower its prices, leading to insolvency.
But the mere possibility of irreparable harm was insufficient. Worldwide only provided speculation about the risk of losing additional customers. It claimed to have suffered returns because of the Blue Nile diamonds, but didn’t produce affidavits, emails, letters, or any other form of correspondence from these retailers or customers to substantiate this claim. A subjective belief in injury was insufficient. Worldwide didn’t offer evidence that sales decreased from prior years or below projections since the Blue Nile diamonds entered the market, and even if it had, it would have needed to show a causal connection.
Nor did Worldwide show evidence that its business relationship with either Forevermark or De Beers was in jeopardy. Neither Forevermark nor De Beers had indicated that these relationships were at risk. As for price erosion, Worldwide hadn’t lowered its prices, and had no expert or other testimony about the likelihood of price erosion, or evidence that retail customers had requested price reductions because of the Blue Nile diamonds.
Moreover, any injury would be compensable with money damages. If Worldwide ultimately prevailed, Worldwide’s sales could be compared against its established track record and its reasonable forecasts to determine the extent of its damages. What about goodwill? Well, when a product has a sales record and its loss wouldn’t affect other aspects of business, damages could generally be proven. “In general, injury resulting from the loss of goodwill is irreparable only when ‘the very viability of the plaintiff’s business, or substantial losses of sales beyond those of the terminated product, have been threatened.’”
Here, however, Worldwide’s history of operation allowed it to calculate money damages for any lost goodwill. Worldwide had sold more than 7,600 diamonds that generate the hearts and arrows pattern, and made at least fifteen different types of proprietary cut diamonds. By contrast, Blue Nile sold a redacted but apparently non-significant number of Blue Nile diamonds; even if every Blue Nile sale constituted a lost sale to Worldwide, the court held, it was “inconceivable” that those losses would completely destroy Worldwide’s business.
At the hearing, Worldwide didn’t identify what percentage of its business was based on sales of the Ideal Cushion or quantify the number of retailers who returned diamonds or how many were returned. Without that, the court wouldn’t speculate that such returns or loss of goodwill would threaten the viability of Worldwide’s overall business. Thus, Worldwide failed to show that any harm resulting from the loss of goodwill was irreparable.
Worldwide’s alleged lost business opportunities with a Malaysian diamond retailer and U.S. manufacturer didn’t come with evidence about the stage of negotiations, the length or term of the contract, or the quantity of products to be provided, so it was “entirely unclear” that Worldwide lost an actual, tangible, business opportunity as a result of the alleged infringement. Moreover, Worldwide failed to establish a causal link between Blue Nile diamonds and its lost opportunities. It also didn’t assert obstacles to calculating damages for these lost business opportunities.
Finally, Blue Nile averred that it could satisfy any damage award in the event liability
Injunctive relief denied.
Rebecca Tushnet, The Romantic Author and the Romance Writer: Resisting Gendered Concepts of Creativity, in DIVERSITY IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, (Irene Calboli & Srividhya Ragavan eds., Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming 2015). Abstract:
Dominant narratives of creativity regularly expect female-associated forms of creativity to be provisioned naturally without need for the economic incentives provided by exclusive rights, just like housework and childcare. Even as the concept of Romantic authorship has come under sustained analytic assault, its challengers often look elsewhere–to the kinds of creativity in which men are more likely to participate–to find models of situated, always-influenced authorship. In this chapter, I examine one variant of the problem, in which certain arguments about copyright discount the value of forms that are predominantly produced and enjoyed by women. But creative works in these oft-denigrated genres, such as media fandom, open up new possibilities in sexual and gender relations, and women learn to see themselves as valuable speakers by becoming creators. As a result, increasing the visibility of women’s creative works, including explicitly transformative works based on specific copyrighted predecessors, is an important part of rejecting the fetishization of Romantic authorship and valuing diverse kinds of creativity.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
First Data Merchant Services Corp. v. SecurityMetrics, Inc., 2014 WL 7409537, No. RDB–12–2568 (D. Md. Dec. 30, 2014)
Earlier ruling excluding false endorsement survey. Even earlier ruling allowing false endorsement theory to proceed.
This “contentious” case involved a soured business relationship and an earlier Utah settlement; this new filing alleged post-settlement misconduct by SecurityMetrics. After this decision, settlement-related claims and tortious interference claims remained, but the false advertising/trademark aspects were gone.
Background: issuers issue payment cards to consumers and collects from them. When a consumer uses a card to pay a merchant, an “acquirer” obtains authorization for the transaction from the consumer’s issuer and then clears and settles the transaction so that the merchant gets paid and the consumer’s account gets charged. Some payment cards have open networks that allow separate entities to operate as issuers and acquirers, in which case “processors” facilitate communication and settlement. First Data operates as an acquirer and payment processor. Sometimes First Data stands in the shoes of other acquirers and then deals with the acquirers’ merchants directly.
PCI is an acronym for “Payment Card Industry.” The PCI Security Standards Council was formed in 2006 by the major credit card brands and developed the PCI Data Security Standard, adopted by the major credit card brands as their data security compliance requirement for all merchants. While the PCI standard is universal, various payment card brands have different requirements for showing compliance. For the lower-volume merchants at issue here, they can use a self-assessment questionnaire, unless they sell over the internet, which requires vulnerability scans of their computer systems that must be approved by PCI Council-approved scanning vendors (ASV). SecurityMetrics is certified by the PCI Council as an ASV, but First Data is not.
First Data processed credit and debit card transactions for merchants and independent sales organizations (ISOs). SecurityMetrics provided compliance services to some merchants for whom First Data provides processing services. Where First Data provided acquirer services (~820,000 merchants), it instituted a PCI Standard compliance reporting program. The parties worked together for several years, with SecurityMetrics as First Data’s preferred vendor for validating compliance with PCI Standards. First Data then began offering PCI Rapid Comply, in competition with the services offered by SecurityMetrics. SecurityMetrics alleged various unfair practices in connection with First Data’s rollout of PCI Rapid Comply, including representations that First Data merchants who used other compliance verification vendors would have to pay for those services along with the cost of PCI Rapid Comply. Utah litigation resulted in a settlement; First Data then decided to wind down PCI Rapid Comply and partnered with Trustwave, a third-party PCI compliance vendor.
SecurityMetrics’ false advertising claims were based on First Data’s statements that if its clients used a third-party vendor for compliance services, they’d have to contract with and pay that vendor directly; that they’d still owe the Compliance Service Fee; and that if First Data’s PCI compliance services were contractually available to clients, they’d be charged for those services even if they used a third-party vendor. However, First Data allegedly actually provided refunds to merchants who used third-party vendors, covering the fee.
The court first determined that the statement at issue was not literally false. First Data charged a standard fee but in some cases provided a refund. Thus, the statements weren’t false, but omitted that a refund might be available. That was at best misleading, and there was no extrinsic evidence of actual consumer confusion. Thus, summary judgment for First Data was appropriate. The court commented that this same statement could go to a jury for a literal falsity determination in other circumstances: if First Data never charged the compliance fee, a jury would have to decide whether the statements were false. But no reasonable jury could conclude that the statement was false on its face given the actual facts.
False endorsement: SecurityMetrics argued that the name PCI Rapid Comply falsely suggested endorsement by the PCI Security Standards Council, and that First Data’s statement that “Claims that certain services offered by FDMS are not ‘approved’ by the PCI Security Council or that FDMS is selling PCI compliance products it is not authorized to sell are not true.” But without survey evidence about the name, there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed on that theory. The acronym alone didn’t unambiguously imply endorsement, so SecurityMetrics needed extrinsic evidence. (Note application of §43(a)(1)(B) standard to what’s generally a §43(a)(1)(A) theory, though this is arguably appropriate given that plaintiff isn’t claiming that the defendant is getting a false endorsement from the plaintiff, but rather from a third party.)
Likewise, SecurityMetrics argued that the “not true” statement was clearly false. First Data argued that the terms “approved” and “authorized” were ambiguous and there was no evidence that Rapid Comply was not “approved” or “authorized” by the PCI Council, especially given that the service operated for two years without any signs of disapproval from the PCI Council. The court found the statement “inherently ambiguous.” First, it referred to “certain services,” which lacked specificity, though presumably referred to Rapid Comply. (In context, that ambiguity seems to drop out.) Second, the statement could be interpreted in various ways. One meaning would be that the services are simply not authorized or approved because such authorizations and approvals are not made by the PCI Council. That wasn’t literally false and there was no extrinsic evidence of deception.
SecurityMetrics’ counterclaim for cancellation of First Data’s registered trademark in PCI Rapid Comply also failed for similar reasons, as did the Utah Truth in Advertising Claim.
Via Larry Solum. I haven't read this but I've been fascinated by plastination for years, and finally my interests unite. Kirill Ershov, A Macabre Fixation: Is Plastination Copyrightable?:
Abstract: Dr. Gunther von Hagens invented plastination as a process to preserve anatomical specimens. Plastination replaces water and fats in anatomical tissues with plastic polymers, allowing for indefinite preservation, ease of handling, and storage of the plastinated “objects.” .... Von Hagens claimed that his cadavers are unique in their manner of dissection and positioning and are entitled to copyright protection as original expressions of ideas fixed in tangible media .... This paper examines whether there is original expression in the type of plastinated exhibits presented by von Hagens, exploring in detail whether there is protected expression in the manner of dissection and the positioning of plastinated bodies.