General

Neighbors Take Property by Adverse Possession

The Boyds purchased their property in 1981; it had a fence that separated property to the east, which the Roberts purchased in 1990. In 2002 the Boyds surveyed their property and found their boundary extended up to 96 feet inside the Roberts side of the fence. The Boyds sold the property to Winningham in 2004, who began tearing down the fence until he was enjoined by the trial court. After the Roberts v. Boyd decision, the trial court held the Roberts had adversely possessed the disputed property.

The Court of Appeals based its decision on the fact that the Roberts tended to the disputed tract of land. They spread fertilizer and planted grass as an exhibit of ownership. The court agreed that the Roberts satisfied all elements of adverse possession and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

General

Sale of Property Fails for Lack of Consideration

The Yourees entered into a contract to sell property to the Eshaghoffs for a total of $1.05 million. The contract provided the Yourees had one year to surrender the property. If they did not, they would lease the property for $12,000 per month until surrender. The parties executed addenda that reduced the surrender time to 6 months and required the Eshaghoffs to lease the property for $18,000 per month for no more than 3 months if they failed to meet the surrender deadline.

The trial court found the addenda were enforceable and directed sale of the property. The court of appeals reversed, finding that the addenda were unenforceable because they provided no additional consideration . These addenda did not require the Yourees to do anything more than what they were already required to do.

Copyrights

Software Developer Contracts Itself Out of Copyright Infringement Claim

SunGard, a global software developer, entered into a software license with Piper for use of SunGard’s Global Trader software. The agreement was amended to include additional software products. The contract included two standard limited liability clauses: (1) Neither party shall be liable for incidental, indirect, consequential, or punitive damages; and (2) Any tort liability is limited to the license fees paid by Piper.

SunGard terminated the contract citing failure by Piper to pay fees, and Piper filed this lawsuit claiming breach of contract. SunGard counterclaimed for copyright infringement for Piper’s continued use of software products after the contract was terminated. SunGard sought Piper’s profits.

The court agreed with Piper that the copyright infringement claim arose of the contract. The court found that Piper’s profits were not direct damages to SunGard, and applying the limited liability provisions of the contract, the court held Piper could not be liable for copyright infringement. Parties have extensive freedom to structure intellectual property rights via contract and can sometimes contract themselves out of an intellectual property claim.

Copyrights

Multidistrict Judicial Panel Rejects Copyright/Trademark Case

The litigation involves cases in California, Missouri and New York for copyright infringement and trademark infringement. Two of the defendants moved to centralize the litigation in California. The panel denied the transfer because the cases were too individualized.

This case is another example that intellectual property litigation usually involves issues that are unique between the parties. As a result, intellectual property litigation typically is not suited for multidistrict litigation or class action litigation.