On January 18, 2022, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, one of the world’s most-valuable gaming companies, was announced. In April 2023, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal on concerns that the deal could “alter the future of the fast-growing cloud gaming market, leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years,” a decision that Microsoft appealed to a Competition Appeal Tribunal. A few months later, in July 2023, as previously reported in Minding Your Business, the FTC’s challenge to the deal in the United States fell short, leaving the UK as the only competition authority preventing the closing of the deal.
In the latest of a string of losses for antitrust enforcers, the Northern District of California resoundingly denied the FTC’s bid to enjoin the Microsoft-Activision merger, allowing the deal to proceed a week in advance of its upcoming merger termination date. In a case that tested the bounds of antitrust law in vertical integration deals, Presiding Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley found “the record evidence points to more consumer access,” rather than showing signs of reduced competition. Federal Trade Commission v. Microsoft Corporation, et al.
According to the Federal Circuit, twenty-two communications with a party over the course of three months may be enough to force a defendant to defend itself in the state where the party is located. But three letters sent over that same time period is not enough.
In a recently published opinion, Trimble, Inc. v. PerDiemCo LLC, the Federal Circuit reversed a district court’s dismissal of a declaratory judgment noninfringement action for lack of personal jurisdiction. PerDiemCo, a Texas LLC and the defendant in the action, had communicated with Trimble twenty-two times over the course of three months. The communications began with a demand letter from PerDiemCo’s sole owner to Trimble’s subsidiary seeking to have Trimble pay for a non-exclusive license to practice PerDiemCo’s allegedly infringed patents. The parties attempted to negotiate over the next three months via letters, emails, and telephone calls until Trimble filed a declaratory judgment noninfringement action in the Northern District of California, where Trimble is headquartered.
Imagine producing a classic Western without cowboys, saloons, or standoffs. This seems almost inconceivable because these elements are deeply integral to the genre – so much so, in fact, that they are essentially necessary for the creation of such works. Copyright law recognizes and accounts for this, by denying copyright protection to such elements under the “scènes à faire” doctrine. “Scènes à faire” literally means “scenes that must be done.” This doctrine traditionally has been applied in the context of literature and film, to keep classic tropes free for use by artists looking to create works in such genres. The Federal Circuit will soon decide, in Cisco Systems v. Arista, whether the scènes à faire doctrine can also be applied in the context of computer programming, to deny copyright protection for software commands that have become commonplace within the field.
The New Year brought with it many new rule changes for federal and California courts, including in the area of electronic service and filing. A few key rules regarding requirements for electronic paperwork and service are summarized below.
On December 22, 2016, a federal District Court Judge in the Northern District of California denied certification of three proposed classes of statewide consumers who purchased or leased certain Ford Fusion or Ford Focus vehicles. The plaintiffs allege that their vehicles contain defective Electronic Power Assisted Steering (“EPAS”) systems prone to sudden and premature failure during normal driving situations. The plaintiffs claim that Ford knew as early as 2007 that the EPAS system was defective, and Ford fraudulently concealed this defect. The plaintiffs also contend they paid more for their cars than they would have if Ford had disclosed the defect. The plaintiffs brought causes of action for (1) common law fraudulent concealment; (2) violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”); (3) implied warranty under California’s Song-Beverly Act; and (4) implied warranty under the federal Magnuson-Moss Act.
On November 17, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit published a precedential order denying a petition for a writ of mandamus to overturn a district court’s determination. In In re: Rearden LLC, Rearden MOVA LLC, MO2, LLC, MOVA, LLC, the defendants in the underlying case had petitioned for a writ of mandamus to challenge the district court’s order compelling them to produce allegedly privileged documents.
On October 5, 2016, two district courts came to opposite conclusions on whether putative class action plaintiffs had standing to bring claims based on prospective employers’ failure to comply with Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) disclosure requirements.
Standing under Article III of the Constitution requires (1) an injury in fact (2) fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant and (3) likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins clarified that to confer standing, an injury in fact must be both particularized – affecting the plaintiff in a “personal and individual” way – and concrete – “real, not abstract.”