Nature Simulation Systems, Inc. v. Autodesk
In Re Vox Populi Registry Ltd.

Trial Lawyers College v. Gerry Spences Trial Lawyers, et al.

This appeal grew out of a dispute over a program (called “The Trial Lawyers College”) to train trial lawyers. The College’s board of directors splintered into two factions, known as the “Spence Group” and the “Sloan Group.” The two groups sued each other: The Spence Group sued in state court for dissolution of the College and a declaratory judgment recognizing the Spence Group’s control of the Board; the Sloan Group then sued in federal court, claiming trademark infringement under the Lanham Act.

Both groups sought relief in the federal case. The Spence Group requested a stay, hoping to obtain a ruling in state court before the federal case proceeded. The Sloan Group requested a preliminary injunction. The federal district court decided both requests in favor of the Sloan Group: The court denied the Spence Group’s request for a stay and granted the Sloan Group’s request for a preliminary injunction. The Spence Group appealed both rulings.

We lack jurisdiction to review the district court’s denial of a stay. After the Spence Group appealed the federal district court’s ruling, the state court resolved the dispute over Board control. So this part of the requested stay became moot. The remainder of the federal district court’s ruling on a stay does not constitute a reviewable final order. But we do have jurisdiction to review the grant of a preliminary injunction. In granting the preliminary injunction, the district court found irreparable injury, restricting what the Spence Group could say about its own training program and ordering removal of sculptures bearing the College’s logo.

The Spence Group challenges the finding of irreparable harm, the scope of the preliminary injunction, and the consideration of additional evidence after the evidentiary hearing. In our view, the district court had the discretion to consider the new evidence and grant a preliminary injunction. But the court went too far by requiring the Spence Group to remove the sculptures.

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