Friday, May 05, 2006

Two interesting decisions on injunctive relief and on discriminatory state food labeling laws

The following two decisions raise what I think are interesting, if not common, issues.

In Lakeview Technologies, Inc. v. Robinson, No. 05-4433 (7th Cir. May 1, 2006), the defendant, an individual, stole plaintiff's trade secrets, and the plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction against defendant's use of the secrets. The district court denied the injunction for various reasons, one of which was that, since a damage award could be calculated, the plaintiff had an adequate remedy at law. The Seventh Circuit said that the ability to calculate damages could potentially make the legal remedy adequate, but not if the defendant couldn't pay it. In such a case, a defendant could only avoid the preliminary injunction if he put up an adequate bond or other good security in lieu of the injunction (Judge Easterbrook's opinion called it a "non-injunction bond").

Piazza's Seafood World, LLC v. Odom, No. 05-30098 (5th Cir. May 4, 2006) involved a suit by a seller of Chinese farm-raised catfish under the CAJUN BOY and CAJUN DELIGHT marks to enjoin enforcement of two Louisiana statutes: The "catfish statute" prohibited sales of any non-American catfish as "catfish," even if it was biologically the same species; the "Cajun statute" prohibited labeling food from outside Louisiana as "Cajun" or "Creole" unless the food was "substantially transformed by processing in Louisiana." The Fifth Circuit held that the "catfish statute" violated the dormant foreign commerce clause of the Constitution because it facially discriminated against foreign commerce, and the state gave no good reason for it. The Court enjoined the "Cajun statute" because it failed the 4-part test for permissible regulation of commercial speech set forth in Central Hudson Gas v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980). Important to the court's decision was that use of the CAJUN BOY and CAJUN DELIGHT marks was not actually or inherently misleading as to Chinese-raised fish, as required by Central Hudson, but only "potentially" misleading, in light of the fact that the plaintiff clearly labeled its packages "Product of China."

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