Monthly Archives: October 2015

Laches Remains Patent Infringement Defense…For Now

By Will Gibbons

Defense attorneys often rely on the legal defense of laches when faced with a claim of patent infringement. This defense bars recovery when a party claims legal injury but unreasonably delays in pursuing the claim in a way that prejudices the opposing party. The laches defense has come under close examination in the SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products, Inc. case. 1

The facts giving rise to the case began when SCA, the patent holder, suggested in a 2003 letter to First Quality, its competitor in the adult incontinence market, that First Quality products were infringing on one of SCA’s patents. After exchanging letters for several years, SCA filed suit in 2010, alleging patent infringement. The District Court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment primarily under laches grounds.

Then, in a ruling previously discussed on this blog, a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit affirmed the grant of laches as a defense to patent infringement. This came despite the Supreme Court’s 2014 holding in Patrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. 2 that laches cannot be invoked to bar a claim for copyright infringement. In light of the Patrella ruling, the Federal Circuit vacated its SCA Hygiene Products ruling on December 30, 2014, ordering an en banc hearing of the court, meaning Continue reading Laches Remains Patent Infringement Defense…For Now

Posting of “Selfies” Taken with Celebrities at Company Functions – Possible Violation of Publicity Rights?

By J. Graham Matherne

SelfieYour company sponsors, at your offices, a charitable, newsworthy event. Local celebrities attend. Afterwards, you have numerous “selfies” of you and your employees with those celebrities. You want to place various “selfies” on your website but don’t want to go to the trouble of getting the celebrities’ permission first.

While it is always best practice to gain permission, if you don’t, will you violate Tennessee’s law prohibiting misuse of another’s name and likeness for commercial purposes?1 How’s this for a lawyer’s answer: “It depends.”

The Tennessee Personal Rights Protection Act (“TPRPA”) provides that “every individual has a property right in the use of that person’s name, photograph, or likeness in any medium in any manner.” T.C.A. § 47-25-1103. The TPRPA applies, however, only when the unauthorized use is in a commercial, advertising, sponsorship or endorsement context. T.C.A. § 47-25-1105(a).

It is permissible under the TPRPA for one to use another’s name or likeness if the use is in connection with a newsworthy, public affairs or sports-related event. T.C.A. § 47-25-1107(a). But Tennessee courts suggest that if Continue reading Posting of “Selfies” Taken with Celebrities at Company Functions – Possible Violation of Publicity Rights?