7th Circuit

     TRADEMARK – The 7th Circuit found that the word “top” in Top Tobacco is not famously distinctive “as a designator of source” in any sensibly specified niche of tobacco products. Thus, a brand of roll-your-own cigarette tobacco that said “Fresh-Top Canister” on the packaging did not infringe Top Tobacco’s trademark for its own roll-your-own cigarettes. See ruling.
     EMPLOYMENT – The 7th Circuit found that a retroactive application of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act would impair the right of an employer to fire a whistleblower and would impose liability for acts done before the statute took effect. The petitioner claimed he was wrongfully fired in July 1999, more than three years before the Act went into effect.  See ruling.
     GOVERNMENT, IMMUNITY – The 7th Circuit held that Chicago is entitled to immunity over claims that it was liable for a fire that destroyed a manufacturing plant because it had interrupted water service to the building’s fire sprinklers and hydrants. The city is entitled to immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, the court ruled. See ruling.

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