The U.S. Supreme Court today decided three cases:
- Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, No. 08-103. The Copyright Act’s provision that generally prohibits a potential plaintiff from bringing a suit for copyright infringement unless the copyright has been preregistered or registered, 17 U.S.C. § 411(a), does not deprive federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate infringement claims involving unregistered works. The provision “imposes a precondition to filing a claim that is not clearly labeled jurisdictional, is not located in a jurisdiction-granting provision, and admits of congressionally authorized exceptions.” Justice Thomas writes for the majority.
- Mac’s Shell Service Inc. v. Shell Oil Products Co., No. 08-240. A franchisee cannot recover for constructive termination under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act if the franchisor’s allegedly wrongful conduct did not force the franchisee to abandon its franchise, nor can a franchisor who reluctantly signed a franchise renewal agreement “under protest” assert a claim for unlawful nonrenewal under the statute. The preemptive scope of the PMPA is limited, and “franchisees can still rely on state-law remedies to address wrongful franchisor conduct that does not have the effect of ending the franchise.” Justice Alito writes the unanimous opinion.
- Johnson v. United States, No. 08-6925. A state offense of battery that can be committed by merely “actually and intentionally touching” someone is not a “crime of violence” that can serve as a predicate for enhanced sentencing under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. §924(e)(1)). Justice Scalia writes for the majority.
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