On June 8, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products, LLC and provided some clarity as to the applicability of the “Rogers test,” a doctrine that grapples with the interplay of trademark law and the First Amendment. The case involved a trademark dispute between Jack Daniel’s Properties, the maker of the famous whiskey, and VIP, a dog toy company that makes and sells a product called “Bad Spaniels.” The Bad Spaniels squeaky toy is in the shape of a whiskey bottle and has a black label with white font similar to Jack Daniel’s; in place of “Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey,” the toy reads, “The Old No. 2 On Your Tennessee Carpet.” After VIP initially filed suit against Jack Daniel’s seeking declaratory judgment that the product did not infringe on Jack Daniel’s trademarks, Jack Daniel’s brought counterclaims under the Lanham Act for trademark infringement and trademark dilution.
The United States Supreme Court recently resolved a circuit split regarding when a party has waived its contractual right to arbitrate by participating in litigation prior to seeking to arbitrate a dispute. In Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., the Court held that the party seeking to resist arbitration does not need to show that it has been prejudiced by the other party’s delay in seeking to compel arbitration. Notably, and in holding that “the Eighth Circuit erred in conditioning a waiver of the right to arbitrate on a showing of prejudice,” the Supreme Court decided against the use of “custom-made rules, to tilt the playing field in favor of (or against) arbitration.”
The United States Supreme Court, in Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P., a recent 6-3 decision, found that innocent legal errors in copyright applications do not preclude copyright holders from taking advantage of the safe harbor provision of the Copyright Act, which protects registrants from having their copyrights invalidated due to inadvertent errors. The Court’s ruling therefore made clear that such errors in copyright applications—including both mistakes of law and mistakes of fact—will rarely be the basis for invalidation.
On April 20, 2020, the Supreme Court held in a 6-3 decision that the Sixth Amendment requires a unanimous jury verdict to convict a defendant of a serious offense in state courts. In so holding, the Court not only paved the way for potentially hundreds of defendants convicted by divided juries, like petitioner Evangelisto Ramos, to obtain new trials, but also effectively overturned its prior holding in Apodaca v. Oregon. Thus, the potential impact of Ramos v. Louisiana extends far beyond issues of criminal procedure, as the justices’ spirited debate over when and whether to overturn precedent took center stage and illustrated deep divisions within the Court.
On March 23, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that States cannot be sued for copyright infringement under principles of sovereign immunity. This ruling arose from a filmmaker’s suit against the state of North Carolina for unauthorized use of his copyrighted works—footage of a ship wreckage.
On January 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first 5-4 merits decision of the term in Artis v. District of Columbia. In this opinion, the Court held that bringing state claims in federal court stops the clock on the statute of limitations for those claims.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, federal courts may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims that arise from the same case or controversy presented in the federal lawsuit. If the federal court later dismisses the federal claims that independently qualify for federal jurisdiction, however, then the court will also ordinarily dismiss the state claims that it had supplemental jurisdiction over as well. As such, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(d) contains a tolling mechanism providing that the “period of limitations for” refiling a dismissed state claim in state court “shall be tolled while the claim is pending [in federal court] and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer tolling period.” The Artis opinion dictates how this tolling mechanism operates.
If the government obtains information about your past locations from your wireless provider, is that a search? If so, is it a search that requires the government to obtain a warrant? Courts have held that, because companies collect this kind of data in the ordinary course of business, consumers who voluntarily provide information to these third-parties have no reasonable expectation of privacy in it. A string of robberies may prompt the Supreme Court to reconsider this doctrine.
On October 16, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to review the Second Circuit’s decision in United States v. Microsoft Corp., a case that highlights the current tension between law enforcement needs and privacy concerns in a rapidly changing digital landscape.