Background
In a service-based economy, many industrial and consumer products are manufactured and sold through trademark licensing arrangements. Under these types of contractual agreements, the owner of the trademark licenses its brand name or mark to another company in exchange for a licensing fee. The authorized user of the trademark then has a contractual right to manufacture and sell the goods bearing the trademark. However, in some circumstances, the mere act of licensing the trademark to a manufacturer of a product for a fee can expose the licensor to a product liability claim under the Apparent Manufacturers Doctrine (AMD).

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In Water Splash v. Menon, case number 16-254 before the U.S. Supreme Court, a long-standing and deep split of authority on a basic question involving international service of process has finally reached the high court. This case was granted certiorari by the Court in early December 2016. It has been briefed by both sides and is now set for argument to proceed on March 22, 2017. The question presented is whether the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (Hague Service Convention) allows service of process by mail.

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gavel-supremeCourt-lawbooks139876297TSOn November 19, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., No. 7 MAP 2013, a case closely followed by the Product Liability Bar in Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court’s decision was expected by many to resolve a lingering conflict in Pennsylvania product liability law. Of my many posts concerning the court’s decision, most have not addressed the net effect this decision will have on how product liability cases are litigated in Pennsylvania in the future, mostly because the Tincher decision gives precious little insight in this regard.

Tincher arose out of a residential fire that began when lightning struck the property. The Tinchers claimed that the corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST), which was part of the home’s gas supply system, was designed defectively and the source of the fire. The plaintiffs and their subrogating insurer brought claims sounding in negligence and strict liability against Omega Flex Inc., the manufacturer of the CSST, in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, PA. Both claims centered on the plaintiff’s main allegation that the flexible CSST lacked sufficient thickness.


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