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Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

December 9, 1996, Submitted ; April 8, 1997, Filed

No. 96-1552

Opinion

 [***1361]   [*1331]  LAY, Circuit Judge.

Porous Media Corporation (Porous) and Pall Corporation (Pall) are manufacturers of industrial filters. They produce competing products for certain applications in various industries, including the oil and natural gas markets (oil/gas markets) and the paper and power generation markets (paper/power markets).

Porous claims that in 1985 and 1986 it began penetrating the market for filters in the paper/power markets and the oil/gas markets. Porous contends that Pall then began a concerted effort to disparage Porous's products and make false comparisons of Pall's products and Porous's products. Among other things, Porous suggests that Pall distributed false anecdotal statements that Porous's filters had collapsed in the field and caused major problems, that Pall made false and disparaging statements about Porous's filters which were not supported by Pall's own [**2]  testing data, and that Pall made false comparisons of its own filters for certain applications with Porous filters that Porous had never recommended as interchangeable for those applications. 2

Porous brought this action against Pall for common-law product disparagement and for false misrepresentation under Lanham Act § 43(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) (1982); Pall counterclaimed for trademark and trade dress infringement and unfair competition.  [*1332]  Following a nearly two-month trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Porous and against Pall on all of the claims and counterclaims. The jury found that Pall made false statements about Porous's products, that Porous had proven special damages, and awarded Porous $ 5.5 million on the common-law [**3]  product disparagement claim. On the Lanham Act claim, the jury found that Pall made false or misleading statements about its own products in its comparative advertising, that Pall had acted willfully and in bad faith, and awarded $ 1.5 million in damages. In addition, the district court 3 awarded Porous its attorneys' fees in the amount of $ 560,564 and costs in the amount of $ 261,712.39. 4

Pall filed post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law or in the alternative for a new trial. The district court denied the motions, and Pall appeals. Pall challenges the judgment under both the Lanham Act and the common-law disparagement claim. We affirm.

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110 F.3d 1329 *; 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 6486 **; 42 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1359 ***; 1997-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P71,768

Porous Media Corporation, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. Pall Corporation, Defendant - Appellant.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  As Corrected April 17, 1997.

Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied June 5, 1997, Reported at: 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 13191.

Prior History: Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. CIV 3-94-358. Honorable Michael Davis, District Judge.

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

disparagement, damages, district court, Lanham Act, advertising, markets, filters, deception, products, misleading, special damage, causation, customers, cases, sales, deliberately, consumer, deceived, injunction, matter of law, argues, own product, competitor, jurors, misleading statement, new trial, speculative, false statement, oil, burden of proof

Trademark Law, Remedies, Equitable Relief, General Overview, Causes of Action Involving Trademarks, Infringement Actions, Civil Procedure, Damages, Monetary Damages, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Likelihood of Confusion, Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Abuse of Discretion, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials, Altering & Amending Judgments, Torts, Business Torts, Trade Libel, Elements, Remedies, Jury Trials, Jury Deliberations, Jurors, Misconduct