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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides three Indiana cases today

In Patriot Homes v. Forest River Housing (ND Ind., Judge Sharp), an 8-page decision, Judge Evans writes:

Two companies, Patriot Homes and Forest River Housing, compete in the modular housing manufacturing industry. Patriot sued Forest River Housing’s subsidiary, Sterling Homes, and four former Patriot employees (now Sterling employees) for copying their home designs. Sterling appeals the district court’s preliminary injunction order which enjoined it from misappropriating Patriot’s copyrights, confidential information, trade secrets, and computer files. * * *

Patriot argues that there is no requirement that a court identify each and every element of copyright originality or trade secret and that the injunction identified specific proscribed acts. We disagree. The district court did not specify what information is a trade secret; the parties also dispute what information is protected. Sterling cannot tell, and neither can we, whether using the information it obtained through the FOIA requests would violate the injunction. While it is not always easy to ascertain what information is a trade secret or confidential at this stage of the proceedings, the district court still must make this determination in order to clearly delineate Sterling’s responsibilities pursuant to the injunction. Id. at 332 (“The problem of framing an appropriate order may be particularly acute in trade secret cases, but trade secret injunctions that are too vague must be set aside.”) (Internal citations omitted.) In fact, Patriot stated during oral argument that the only way Sterling might know that it violated the injunction order is to look at the transcript from the preliminary injunction hearing. This requires a lot of guesswork on Sterling’s part in order to determine if it is engaging in activities that violate the injunction, since the order itself is a little more than a recitation of the law. * * *

For these reasons, we VACATE the preliminary injunction because it lacks specificity as required by Rule 65(d).2 Accordingly, we REMAND for proceedings consistent with this opinion. The Defendants-Appellants are awarded their costs.

In U.S. v. John Neal (SD Ind., Judge Tinder), a 26-page opinion, Judge Ripple writes:
In 2000, John Neal pleaded guilty to six federal charges for which he was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment and thirty-six months’ supervised release. In September 2006, the Government petitioned the court to revoke Mr. Neal’s supervised release. The district court granted the Government’s petition and sentenced Mr. Neal to an additional 24 months’ imprisonment. Mr. Neal now appeals his sentence. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.
In U.S. v. Earkle J. Tyler (ND Ind., Judge Moody), an 11-page opinion, Judge Sykes writes:
Earkle Tyler was charged with possessing crack with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Tyler moved to suppress the crack, arguing that it was discovered only after police officers detained and searched him without reasonable suspicion. The district court denied this motion, and Tyler entered a conditional guilty plea. He now challenges the denial of his motion to suppress. Because the officers detained Tyler without reasonable suspicion that criminal activity may be afoot, the suppression motion should have been granted. We vacate Tyler’s conviction and remand with instructions. * * *

That Tyler was walking down the street on a Saturday afternoon in September lawfully carrying an open beer supports only a suspicion that he was drinking, not that he was drunk. * * *

“The spirit of the public intoxication statute is to prevent people from becoming inebriated and then bothering and/or threatening the safety of other people in public places.” Wright v. State, 772 N.E.2d 449, 456 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002).

The absence of reasonable suspicion to justify the officers’ initial Terry stop decides this case; everything that followed was fruit of the poisonous tree. * * * Accordingly, we vacate Tyler’s conviction and remand with instructions to grant his motion to suppress.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 10, 2008 01:36 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions