Mr. Ruiz is a partner with the firm, and is currently the President of the Federal Bar Association's South Florida Chapter. Mr. Ruiz is fluent in Spanish and concentrates his practice in Intellectual Property Litigation and Trademark Prosecution.
Mr. Ruiz earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, and a law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law, where he served as a board member for the Moot Court Board, and as President of the Student Bar Association. He is admitted to practice law in Florida and North Carolina state courts, as well as, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the Middle District of Florida, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Mr. Ruiz is an active member of several bar associations, as well as with the Rotary Club of Miami, where he serves as President-Elect of the club.
The standard for willful patent infringement will be reviewed this term by the Supreme Court of the United States, as reported by SCOTUSblog. The Court agreed to accept two cases that involve the issue of enchanced damages in patent infringement litigation, Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, and Stryker Corp v. Zimmer. Under the Patent Act, the owner of a patent may seek triple damages where willful infringement has been proven. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the proper framework for determining whether infringement in a particular case is willful. A decision in these consolidated cases will be rendered by June 2016.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to review three intellectual property cases. Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog reported that “[t]he Tuesday grants represent a strong focus on issues related to intellectual property law.” The Court granted petitions to review two patent cases and one copyright case during the upcoming term. The two patent cases both concern standards for awards of fees in patent litigation, and the copyright case pertains to the timeliness of the action.
The arrival of a new month has brought with it another slew of lawsuits filed by ArrivalStar S.A. and Melvino Technologies in the Southern District of Florida, asserting patent infringement against a host of business entities.
The Key West Tourism Development Association ("TDA") recently filed a lawsuit alleging intellectual property violations stemming from alleged unauthorized use of the mark "FANTASY FEST" by Zazzle, Inc., a California business entity. Zazzle is the owner of the web site, zazzle.com, which according to the complaint, offers "blank" products such as t-shirts and coffee mugs that can be customized by consumers. TDA argues that, in so doing, Zazzle facilitates and benefits from the creation of counterfeit items. In its Complaint, TDA takes issue with Zazzle's use of meta tags, and the offering of products which feature the marks "FANTASY FEST," and "HABITAT FOR INSANITY," this year's festival theme.
You may remember the character Dan Tanna from Vega$,
but you may not know that the character's name was based on the name of a West Hollywood, California restaurant owner named Dan Tana (used with his permission), whose restaurant, "Dan Tana's," appears below:
A local author named Cynthia J. Clay recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit alleging that the motion picture Avatar infringes her novel, entitled Zollocco: A Novel of Another Universe. The complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of Florida federal court, alleges instances of "strikingly similar" copying of portions of the novel, and claims that the name of the novel, Zollocco, was used as a war chant by principal characters in a critical scene in the movie (allegedly "Zha-lah-coooh").
The Defendants in the lawsuit include James Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox. As with any lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, the issues to be determined will include: (1) the Defendants' access to the novel; and (2) the degree of similarity between the accused work and the copyrighted work ("substantial similarity" if access can be proven, otherwise the alleged infringing work must be "strikingly similar").
Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court granted a request by Costco, the wholesale retailer, to review a federal appellate decision involving the first-sale doctrine under copyright law, in connection with the purchase and resale by Costco of Omega brand watches that were purchased on the gray-market (also known as parallel imports). In general, the first-sale doctrine allows the owner of a particular copy of a copyrighted work which was "lawfully made" to resell that copy without permission from the copyright holder.
A Bradenton, Florida company has sued Cup Solutions, Inc., an online seller of cups used for mixing drinks with shots of hard liquor, alleging that the Defendant's "YAAGBOMB" cups, pictured below, infringe a patent owned by Hurricane Shooters, LLC, the Plaintiff.
A Fort Lauderdale company that claims ownership of trademark rights for the term "MEANAGER" in connection with clothing has sued Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary of slang words and phrases, and another Defendant, for allegedly selling competing goods that use the term "MEANAGER". The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and is pending before Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno.
The complaint alleges that Urban Dictionary is infringing the Florida company's trademark by using the term "MEANAGER" on articles that it sells through its website. According to the complaint, Urban Dictionary sells articles that feature the slang words and phrases that appear on its website, and takes issue with the sale of articles bearing the term "MEANAGER". The term has three definitions on the web site, one as a slang phrase for a mean boss, i.e. a "MEANAGER" (as a play on words for Manager); and the other two relating to teenagers that exhibit hurtful behavior (a play on words for the terms Mean and Teenager). According to Wikipedia, another online dictionary, Urban Dictionary currently has 4.79 million definitions on its website.
The Florida company alleges that it has promoted its mark through websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. With the ever increasing amount of business that is done through the internet, it is no surprise that cases such as these are being filed a more rapid rate.
The federal false patent marking statute, 35 U.S.C. § 292, prohibits the false marking of "any unpatented article" with the word "patent" or other suggestions, such as advertising, that would indicate that the article is patented. The goal of the statute is to avoid public deception as to whether a particular good is in fact patented.
Several qui tam lawsuits, which are generally lawsuits brought by private individuals on behalf of the government, have been filed based on alleged violations of the false marking statute, and seek to impose up to a $500 penalty for each article that has been falsely marked. For example, some of these lawsuits have been brought by consumers who have noticed expired patent numbers or false patent markings on everyday products, including paper cups and plastic utensils.
There has been much debate over the appropriate penalty for falsely marking a patent number on a manufactured article. On the one side of the debate are those, such as the consumers that filed the above-mentioned lawsuits, who contend that a penalty should be assessed for each and every manufactured article that bears the false marking. They contend that, if a manufacturer decides to mark 1,000 products with a false patent marking, then the maximum penalty under the statute should be $500,000, or $500 per article, for each of the 1,000 items marked.
On the other side of the debate are those, accused of false marking, that contend that the penalty should be imposed for each decision to mark a quantity of manufactured articles. According to their contention, the statute should be interpreted such that, if a manufacturer were to decide to mark 1,000 items with a patent number, and the marking was later ruled to be a false marking, then the maximum penalty would be $500, based on the one decision to mark the articles.
Earlier today, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling that should clear up much of the debate. In today's decision, the appellate court interpeted the false patent marking statute, 35 U.S.C. § 292, to require a penalty for each article or good that is falsely marked with a patent number, and not for each decision to mark a number of goods, as suggested by one of the parties. The appellate court did note, however, that $500 is the maximum penalty for each falsely marked article, and that judges will continue to have discretion to assess a lower penalty, according to the circumstances of a given case.
You can read the Federal Circuit's decision in Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Company et. al., here.