The Supreme Court of the United States issued one decision today:
Ocasio v. United States, No. 14-361: Petitioner Samuel Ocasio, a former police officer, was tried and convicted under the Hobbs Act for participating in a kickback scheme with the owners of an auto repair shop. Ocasio and other officers would persuade the owners of damaged cars at accident scenes to which they responded, to have their cars towed to this repair shop, and in exchange would be paid money by the repair shop owners. Ocasio was convicted under 18 U.S.C. §1951 for obtaining money from the repair shop owners under color of official right, and convicted under 18 U.S.C §371 for conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act. With respect to the conspiracy count, Ocasio challenged it before both the District Court and Fourth Circuit, contending that the Hobbs Act prohibits the obtaining of property “from another,” and thus, the property (here, the money) needed to come from someone outside the conspiracy. The District Court rejected this argument, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. Today, the Court affirmed, holding that a defendant may be convicted of conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act based on proof that he reached an agreement with the owner of the property in question to obtain that property under color of right.
The Court's decision is available here.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases today:
Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., No. 15-866: What is the appropriate test to determine when a feature of a useful article is protectable under §101 of the Copyright Act?
SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products, No. 15-927: Whether and to what extent the defense of laches may bar a claim for patent infringement brought within the Patent Act’s six-year statutory limitations period, 35 U.S.C. §286.