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August 2016 Archives

Federal Circuit Rules that Patent Suits Can Continue to Be Filed in Any District Where Defendant is Subject to Personal Jurisdiction

In a highly anticipated decision, the Federal Circuit recently issued an opinion denying a request made by TC Heartland LLC ("Heartland") for new restrictions on where patent suits can be filed.  In Re TC Heartland LLC, No. 2016-105, slip. op. (Fed. Cir. April 29, 2016).  

A Primer On The Defend Trade Secrets Act

A trade secret in the United States, once protected under state common law and state statute, is now officially a matter of national importance.  President Barack Obama signed into federal law on May 11, 2016 the bi-partisan Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which creates, among other things, a federal cause of action for theft or misappropriation of trade secrets used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce. See Pub. L. 114-153, 130 Stat. 376 (2016); see also 18 U.S.C. § 1836(c) ("The district courts of the United States shall have original jurisdiction of civil actions brought under this section."). "Trade secrets are the commercially valuable designs, processes, techniques, and other forms of information kept confidential by companies because, by virtue of their secrecy, they give companies an edge in a competitive marketplace."  H.R. Rep. No. 114-529, at 2 (2016).  Significantly, the DTSA provides ample remedies. It expressly permits relief for aggrieved trade secret owners in the form of compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees (in egregious cases). Furthermore, under both extreme and exigent circumstances, a plaintiff may, upon a sufficient factual showing, obtain an order seizing goods in commerce to protect against the unlawful dissemination of the trade secret, sales made in furtherance of the misappropriation, and the destruction of evidence.

DFPB Proposes Rule That Would Restore Consumer Right To Sue Banks

In AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011), the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state laws that prohibit consumer contracts from disallowing class-wide arbitration.  On May 5, 2016, however, the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed a new rule that would restore consumer's rights to bring class action lawsuits against banks and other certain financial firms.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rejects Challenge To Attorney's Authority To Conduct Foreclosure Activities For Client Without Written Authorization

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the "SJC) has rejected a challenge to the authority of an attorney to conduct foreclosure activities on behalf of clients without specific written authorization to perform those activities.  See Federal National Mortgage Association v. Rego, et al., No. SJC-11927, 2015 WL 10895667 (Mass. May 24, 2016).  At a foreclosure sale conducted by GMAC Mortgage, LLC, Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae") purchased the home formerly owned by Edward and Emanuela Rego.  When Fannie Mae filed a complaint for summary process in the Housing Court seeking possession of the home, the Regos argued that the foreclosure sale was void because the attorneys for GMAC lacked authority to undertake foreclosure activities on GMAC's behalf because their actions had not been authorized by a prior writing pursuant to Mass. Gen. L. c. 244, § 14 ("Section 14").

Appeals Court Dismisses HAMP-Based Negligence Claim

In a post-foreclosure lawsuit, Santos v. U.S. Bank National Association, et al., 2016 WL 3636049 (Mass.App.Ct. 2016), a borrower ("Santos") alleged inter alia that a foreclosing mortgagee ("U.S. Bank") and its loan servicer negligently handled his applications for a HAMP loan modification.  Santos argued that the defendants "negligently failed to adhere to the HAMP guidelines in processing his loan modification applications." 

Supreme Judicial Court Reconsiders What It Means to Be a Legal Parent in Massachusetts

Last month, the Commonwealth's highest appellate court considered how legal parenthood is defined in the context of children born to a same-sex couple as a result of artificial insemination.  The case, Partanen v. Gallagher, is currently under advisement by the Supreme Judicial Court.  The Court's opinion could result in new parameters for what it means to be a parent in Massachusetts.  At issue is the scope of the legal rights that an unmarried woman, who was previously in a relationship with the child's biological mother when the child was conceived using artificial insemination, enjoys after the relationship ends.

Employers May Not Prohibit Class Actions, Holds The 7th Circuit

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently created a schism between the Circuits that may lead to the Supreme Court's intervention on an important issue: whether an employer may bar employees from bringing class action claims by requiring claims to be arbitrated. The 7th Circuit, in deciding that employers cannot do so, has diverged from the 5th Circuit, leaving a circuit split that the Supreme Court will now likely be compelled to resolve.

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