Tag Archives: Supreme Court

The POM Wonderful v. Coca-Cola Decision Is In, And The Supreme Court Unanimously Sides With Private Plaintiffs

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By: Brian J. Meli

Eleven amicus briefs were filed in support of POM Wonderful and Coca-Cola, but the real argument wasn’t between the captioned parties in the case. This was a clash of laws, pitting the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) against Section 43 of the Lanham Act for consumer protection supremacy. This was a dispute about the authority of administrative rules to usurp the rights of private claimants seeking to recover from commercial injury. The question of first impression: whether compliance with the FDCA and NLEA regulations pertaining to food and beverage labeling requirements precluded POM’s right to bring a private action alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices against a competitor, in this case Coke, under the Lanham Act. Now that The Supreme Court has ruled, we know the answer to that question. And it’s a resounding “no.”

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The World Wide What-If: How E.T. And Mickey Mouse Nearly Changed The Internet (And World) As We Know It – Part 2

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By: Brian J. Meli

This is Part 2 of a two-part article appearing in the May/June edition of IP Litigator. You can read Part 1 here.

In a temporary departure from our usual Legalmatter format, last week’s post contemplated a purely fictional hypo.

Lawyers love hypotheticals, in part because they make fertile ground for debate (and in part because it’s much easier to win an argument when it’s bring-your-own-facts). I deemed this particular hypothetical worthy of some ink however because it raises some thought-provoking questions about how IP laws have shaped our society.

The hypo involved going back in time and changing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in one of the most historic IP cases of all time, Sony v. Universal City Studios, so that plaintiffs Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company came out on top. Such an outcome would have made Sony’s fledgling Betamax videocassette recorder (and the VCR in general) illegal due to its ability to allow users to impermissibly infringe copyrighted broadcasts. This would have had a profound affect on the evolution of consumer technology and the Internet, and fundamentally changed the ways we live, work and play today.

Last week we contemplated the online world of a parallel universe in which just such a thing happened. This week we conclude by taking a look at the equivalent off-line world.

Here’s how it might look:

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The World Wide What-If: How E.T. And Mickey Mouse Nearly Changed The Internet (And World) As We Know It – Part 1

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By: Brian J. Meli

This is Part 1 of a two-part article appearing in the May/June 2012 edition of IP Litigator. You can read Part 2 here.

The Universal Studios logo is a computer-generated rendering of a rotating planet Earth, partially circumscribed by the company’s name in giant block letters. It’s an iconic image that instantly invokes the might and magic of Hollywood. It’s also unintentionally allegorical, because had things turned out a little differently for Universal 30 years ago, today’s world—particularly the parts that relate to commerce and technology—might be very different.

The date was January 17, 1984—a year many associate with Apple Computer’s famous “1984” Macintosh commercial, and the George Orwell book that inspired it. But a lesser-known, and even more significant event in the history of the human race’s relationship with technology occurred that same year, and it had nothing to do with Apple. That event was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sony v. Universal City Studios, better known in legal circles as the “Sony Betamax” case.

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