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Federal Court Cases on Copyrights and Trademarks
Listed by Federal Circuit with State Trademark Cases Included

There's a lot of information on the internet but it can take hours to locate what you want. Sometines, a really good page disappears when you go back to it. These are court cases we've found that we think have relevant information. In some cases all we have are notes about the cases. When possible we have the entire decision. Understanding the Federal Court System isn't all that easy.

When someone posts information on the internet, they want it readily available to others. We help that along by archiving and reproducing the information and citing the source whenever possible. Information and education is the highway to freedom. With the individual cases we are also posting a synopsis called "Issues" to give you a "quickie" look at the case to see if you are interested. These cases were not selected becasue they presented earth-shaking decisions but more because the reasoning of the different courts presented arguments that you might be able to use in the future. Courts are persuaded more by logical arguments that support the facts of the case at hand than by emotional pleas. Most of these cases will also have relevant quotes after the "Issues" link.

Why list so many court cases? So you can get an idea of what the courts are saying about something. While the different circuits may not agree on all issues (that is where the Supreme Court gets into the act) you will see that they are very close. While each case is different, the underlying application of the law is not. In the "Abreviations" (listed after "Issues") we have selectively gathered statements from these decisions that are relevant to the contemt of these pages. We attempt to present the "law" as it is applied; not the law as we would like it to be.

Court cases often cite many past cases and other legal references. To understand legal citations better, CLICK HERE. Courts are very conscious of precedent and follow previous rulings closely. If a circuit has no precedent if will draw from the decisions of other circuits. These cases were selected because they appear often in cases concerning intellectual property. We DO NOT select only cases that support our position as some people claim. Our position is based upon court decisions.
For federal court cases presented alphabetically, click here.
For federal court cases presented by Subject , click here.
For federal court cases presented by Selected Quotes by Category, click here.

1st Circuit         Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island

2nd Circuit         Connecticut, New York, Vermont

3rd Circuit         Deleware, New jersey, Pennsylvania, Virgin Islands

  • Burke & Van Heusen v Arrow Drug, 233 F.Supp. 881 ( E.D. PA 1964). Plaintiff, the holder of the copyrights to certain musical compositions, granted to Beecham Products, Inc., in exchange for agreed royalties, a restrictive license for the use of the compositions on long playing records which were to be used only as a premium in connection with the sale of a certain shampoo. Beecham sold the records with the shampoo to Arrow Drug, Inc., which resold the records separately from the shampoo. Plaintiff claimed that the sales by defendant infringed its copyrights. The court ruled that the plaintiff had lost all rights to control the product under copyright law.
    ISSUES, First sale doctrine, First sale doctrine

  • Sebastian Intern., Inc. v. Consumer Contacts (PTY) Ltd.,, 847 F.2d 1093 (3d Cir. 1988). Sebastian entered into an oral contract with Consumer Contacts in which Consumer Contacts agreed to distribute Sebastian beauty products to professional hair styling salons in South Africa, but not elsewhere. A large shipment was sent back to the US by Consumer Contactsand sold without authorization from Sebastian. Sebastian sued for beach of contract and copyright infringement. Lower court granted an injunction but the court of appeals overturned the ruling using the first sale doctrine.
    ISSUES, First sale doctrine, First sale doctrine

  • Step-Saver Data Sys., Inc. v. Wyse Tech.,, 939 F.2d 91 (3d Cir. 1991). Wyse Tech claims its software is licensed, not sold, and that the "user agreement" prohibits Step-Saver from seeking damages. Court rules software is "sold" under the UCC and that "user agreements" are improperly restrictive.
    ISSUES, Contract formation, UCC 2-207, First sale doctrine

  • Advent Syatems v Unysis Corp, 925 F.2d 670 (3rd Cir 1991). Court concludes software is a "good" under the Uniform Commercial Code.
    ISSUES, tortious interference, software is goods

  • Matrix Essentials v. Cosmetic Gallery,, 870 F. Supp. 1237 (D.N.J. 1994). Matrix sued Cosmetic Gallery to stop them from reselling their products. Matrix claimed only salons were allowed to sell their products. The court disagreed.
    ISSUES, Existing contract, First Sale Doctrine (trademark), Intentional defacement (trademark)

  • Iberia Foods v Rolando Romeo,, 150 F.3d 298 (3rd Cir 1998). Rol-Rom Foods purchases Mistolin products on the open market in Puerto Rico and sells them in New York and New Jersey at a substantial discount from Iberia's price. Iberia contended that by buying Mistolin in Puerto Rico and selling it in the continental United States, Rol-Rom had circumvented the quality control measures enforced by Iberia on all the Mistolin products it sold and sued for trademark infringement. The court of appeals rejected the argument because the quality controls measures appeared to be minimal and ruled for the defendant.
    ISSUES, gray goods, material difference, 3rdCircuitCOA/Abv/IberiaFoods_v_RolandoRomeo_A2.shtml IberiaFoods_v_RolandoRomeo_A.html Quality control

4th Circuit         Maryland, North Carlina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

5th Circuit         Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas

6th Circuit         Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennesee

7th Circuit         Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin

8th Circuit         Arkansas, Iowa, Minnestota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

9th Circuit         Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

10th Circuit         Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming

11th Circuit         Alabama, Florida, Georgia

  • Allison v Vintage Sports, 136 F.3d 1443 (11 Cir. 1998) Vintage Sports bought trading cards and mounted them on plaques to sell. Elisa Allison, the widow of race car driver Clifford Allison, sued claiming right of publicity. District court held the first sale doctrine superceded any rights of publicity. Court of appeals affirmed.
    ISSUES, first sale doctrine

  • Leigh v Warner Brothers, 212 F.3d 1210 (11 Cir. 2000). Leigh took a picture of a statue that was used on a book cover. Warner Brothers used a similar picture in a movie. Leigh sued claiming copyright infringement. The Court upheld the doctrine that "objects in the public domain or as they occur in nature is not protected by copyright" and ruled in favor of Warner Brothers.
    ISSUES, Substantial similarity, Objects in the public domain, Protected elements

  • Davidoff v PLD International, 263 F.3d 1297 (11th Cir. 2001). PLD was acquiting product manufacutured by Davidoff and reselling it after removing the etched product codes from the bottles. The court found that the removal of the product codes disfigured the bottles to the point that a consumber would likely conclude there had been tampering. That created a material difference and PLD was enjoinded from reselling the prodicts.
    ISSUES, Trademark infringement, Material Difference

Federal Circuit

  • Nitro Leisure v Acushnet, 341 F.3d 1356 (Fed Cir 2003). Acushnet makes golf balls. Nitro acquires used golf balls, repairs and refurbishes them, and then resells them with a disclaimer on the box. During refurbishing, Nitro sometimes reapplied the Acushnet tradmark to the golf balls. Court of appeals said used goods have a lower consumer expectation and affirmed that there was no infringement.
    ISSUES, Used products, material differences

Supreme Court



  • Clairol, Inc. v. Cody's Cosmetics, 353 Mass. 385 (1967). Clairol sought to enjoin Cody's Cosmetics from selling at retail to the general public Clairol's products designated "Professional Use Only." The court rejected this attempt except to require Cody's to use a disclaimer warning consumers that the bottles were originally part of a six-pack that was broken open.


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Original material by Karen Dudnikov & Michael Meadors is © 1999-2019

A Cup Of Joe For A Joe
by Green Beans Coffee Company
Karen and Mike, also known to you as Tabberone, have been actively participating in various troop support programs for a number of years. An important one we have discovered and supported is one run by the Green Beans Coffee Company of Larkspur, California. The Green Beans Coffee Company runs coffee houses in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East and at other US military bases around the world. Your donations are converted into email chits that are randomly given to military personal who are based near these coffee houses. You are then sent an email by Green Beans Coffee telling at what location your donation(s) was distributed. The military recipient of your donation is also given the opportunity to email you a thank you with a message, which many of them do.

Modern military deployment has changed very much since WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Back then there was no internet or cell phones. A soldier very rarely could call home or even go home on leave. But modern deployment does not alter the dangers they face. Green Beans Coffee is one of the little pleasures they can enjoy. Any donation makes a service man or service woman smile. We contribute every month.

More information is available at
We rarely link to other sites. It is a really good cause.



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