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Humetrix, Inc. v. Gemplus S.C.A.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
268 F.3d 910 (2001)


Facts

Humetrix, Inc. (plaintiff), a U.S. health care consulting company, entered into two oral contracts and one written agreement with Gemplus S.C.A. (defendant), a Luxembourg-based manufacturer of Smart Card technology, to provide portable patient information data cards. At the time negotiations took place, Gemplus senior manager Guy Guistini was a 45 percent shareholder in Inovaction S.A.R.L., a French company that held French trademarks to “Vaccicarte” and “Vaccicard.” After learning that Humetrix had registered the trademarked “Vaccicard” in the United States, Guistini attempted to thwart the relationship between Gemplus and Humetrix. Additionally, Gemplus acquired a new U.S. subsidiary that could perform many of the functions that Humetrix was performing under the contract. Thereafter, communication from Gemplus to Humetrix ceased. Humetrix filed suit against Gemplus in federal district court for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Humetrix also filed suit against Guistini for intentional interference with contractual relations and Inovaction seeking the trademark rights to the term “Vaccicard” for use in the United States. The trial court found for Humetrix and a jury awarded the company $15 million in damages for the significant time and resources it had invested into the project. The trial court further declared that Humetrix was entitled to use the “Vaccicard” trademark in the United States. Gemplus appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Tallman, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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