Posting on social media about businesses located in another state could give rise to personal jurisdiction in that state, according to a recent landmark opinion by a sharply divided Montana Supreme Court. In Groo v. Montana Eleventh Judicial District Court, the Court considered whether several Facebook posts made by Melissa Groo, a New York-based wildlife-photography ethicist, concerning Triple D Game Farm, a wildlife-photography farm in Montana, supported personal jurisdiction in an action by Triple D against Groo in Montana state court for tortious interference with contractual relations and prospective economic advantage. In the posts, Groo had tagged individuals and companies doing business with Triple D, three of whom resided in Montana, and encouraged them to cancel their business with the company because of its alleged mistreatment of animals. Four Justices found the posts sufficient to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over Groo; three dissented.
Statutes permitting discretionary attorney fee-shifting for prevailing defendants vary in the circumstances under which fee-shifting is permitted. Two recent cases tackling the question of why and when a lawsuit warrants shifting attorneys’ fees from a prevailing defendant to the plaintiff who brought the claim reflect some of these differences. One case focused on “frivolousness” of the lawsuit, and the other imposed a “bad faith” requirement—despite the absence of such language from the relevant statute. The perceived motivation of the respective plaintiffs and purpose behind the statutes under which the claims were brought were influential.
In April, we discussed oral arguments at the Supreme Court for Abitron Austria GmbH et al. v. Hetronic International, Inc., a case in which the Supreme Court considered the extraterritorial reach of the Lanham Act (“Act”) for the first time since 1952. Last month, the Court ruled that the Lanham Act only reaches claims of infringement where the infringing use in commerce is domestic.
The Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), was enacted to make federal courts the primary venue for class action litigation. It did so by modifying the usual jurisdictional requirements of the diversity jurisdiction statute. Under CAFA, federal courts may exercise removal jurisdiction over state law class actions originally filed in state court so long as there is “minimal” rather than “complete” diversity, and the amount in controversy is greater than $5 million.
On May 18th, the Supreme Court handed down its much‑anticipated opinion in Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith. We’ve tracked the progress of this case through the trial court, Second Circuit, and Supreme Court.
The case concerns whether the Andy Warhol Foundation violated a copyright held by photographer Lynn Goldsmith when it licensed a Warhol work called Orange Prince, based on Goldsmith’s photo, to Condé Nast for use on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Goldsmith’s photo of Prince was the basis of a series of silkscreen portraits and drawings by Warhol known as the Prince Series. The work at issue was created without Goldsmith’s knowledge or consent. She received none of the $10,000 licensing fee paid to the Warhol Foundation for use of the image.
In an unsigned per curiam opinion yesterday in Gonzalez v. Google, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s judgment— which had held that plaintiffs’ complaint was barred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – and remanded it. But the Court’s opinion entirely skirted a highly-anticipated issue: whether Section 230 does, in fact, shelter as much activity as courts have held to date.
A three-way circuit split has long plagued the realm of attorney-client privilege on how to treat communications that implicate both legal and non-legal concerns (known as “dual-purpose communications”). Namely, if a lawyer communicates with their client, simultaneously providing legal advice and business advice, is the entire communication protected by the attorney-client privilege? How substantial must the legal advice be for the communication to be privileged? The Supreme Court recently had the opportunity to resolve this split, but in a strange turn of events, dismissed the previously granted writ of certiorari as improvidently granted two weeks after hearing oral argument. Before delving into the oral argument and subsequent dismissal by the Supreme Court, it is worth reviewing a brief history of the existing circuit split.
Last month, the Supreme Court heard oral argument on Abitron Austria GmbH et al. v. Hetronic International, Inc. and considered, for the first time since 1952, the extraterritorial reach of the Lanham Act. This case presents the opportunity for the Court to establish a uniform test for the Lanham Act’s extraterritorial reach when seeking remedies in U.S. courts and to provide clarity for U.S. companies looking to protect their marks and reputation around the world.