Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 6:06 PM

Fourth Circuit Term Opens Today

Today the Fourth Circuit opened its new term, with the Court fairly evenly split ideologically among the 10 active judges. This is the first term for new Chief Judge Karen Williams. It is the first term in 20 years without Judge Wilkins serving as an active judge, and the first term in 35 years without Judge Widener.

Tomorrow the Fourth Circuit will hear argument in, among other cases, an antitrust suit brought against Microsoft by a competitor. The case is Go Computer Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., and the appeal concerns District Judge Motz's dismissal of the antitrust claims on statute of limitations grounds. Go was founded in 1987, and the claims date back some 20 years. The suit alleges that Microsoft attempted to thwart Go's attempt to enter the PC operating system market and that Microsoft stole Go's technology. A Reuters story about the underlying lawsuit is here, and news story concerning the district court's dismissal is here.

On Wednesday 9/26 the Fourth Circuit will hear oral argument in a case raising the issue of jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The case is Lanier v. Norfolk Southern. One of the issues is whether the plaintiff or the defendant bears the burden on the issue of federal jurisdiction when a case is removed to federal court under CAFA. CAFA's legislative history indicates that the burden should be on the plaintiff to demonstrate that removal is improvident. In Lanier the district court followed three circuit courts which rejected the argument that CAFA's legislative history alters the rule that a proponent of subject matter jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. A story about the case can be found here on the CAFA Law Blog.

Also on Wednesday 9/26 the Fourth Circuit will hear argument in a trademark, trade dress, and copyright action: Louis Vuitton v. Haute Diggity Dog. In this case Judge Cacheris held, among other things, that consumer confusion was unlikely between the "Louis Vuitton" trademark and the "Chewy Vuiton" mark due to parody. Judge Cacheris began his opinion with this catchy introduction: "This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's and Defendants' cross-motions for summary judgment. This 'dog of a case' gave the Court a great amount of facts to chew upon and applicable law to sniff out. Nonetheless, having thoroughly gnawed through the record, this Court finds that no material dispute of fact remains, and summary judgment is appropriate on all counts." A story about the case is here.

We feature on this blog an oral argument calendar for the Fourth Circuit and NC's appellate courts (look to the right), and you can access the Fourth Circuit's oral argument calendar at its official site here.

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