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Montana court sends wind farm clash to California

•  Court News     updated  2014/07/22 13:50

A dispute over a Montana wind farm's potential to harm nearby nesting eagles and other birds should be heard in California, the Montana Supreme Court said Friday, in an opinion that deals a legal setback to the project's developers.

The legal row over the Rim Rock wind farm near Cut Bank began last year, when San Diego Gas & Electric accused developer NaturEner of concealing the possibility that eagles and other birds could be harmed by the 126-turbine project.

NaturEner, whose parent company is based in Spain, filed a competing lawsuit in Montana. Its attorneys alleged SDG&E was trying to get out of an unfavorable contract and using the eagle issue as an excuse.

The Rim Rock wind farm is near an area with seven golden eagle nests and Montana's densest concentration of ferruginous hawks. Under federal law, a take permit is required for activities that could injure, kill or otherwise harm protected birds such as eagles.

SDG&E alleges federal officials recommended to NaturEner that the wind farm needed such a permit. NaturEner has denied the claim.

Montana District Judge Brenda Gilbert ruled in May that the case should be heard in Montana because of Rim Rock's importance to the economies of Glacier and Toole counties. She also issued an injunction requiring the utility to pay NaturEner nearly $2 million a month.

German court: chronically ill could grow marijuana

•  Court News     updated  2014/07/22 13:49


Some Germans may soon be able to grow their own marijuana to relieve chronic pain after a ruling from a court in Cologne.

The Cologne administrative court ruled Tuesday in favor of three plaintiffs who had sued for the right to grow marijuana for therapeutic purposes, sending the cases back to the government agency responsible for approving medical marijuana products.

The court says the three demonstrated they could not combat their pain any other way and could not afford to purchase medical marijuana, which is permitted in Germany but not usually covered by the country's health insurance system.

The court also stipulated that allowing marijuana cultivation should depend upon a "thorough and individual" examination of each case, and rejected two other claims.

Apple wins EU court case on store design trademark

•  Court News     updated  2014/07/11 11:01

The European Union's highest court says Apple's characteristic retail store layout may be registered as a trademark.

The Court of Justice on Thursday overturned a decision by German patent authorities which last year rejected an application to grant copyright protection to Apple's store design — parallel lines of big tables with electronic gadgets spread out on them under a high ceiling.

The Luxembourg-based EU Court said a design pattern like Apple's "may constitute a trademark provided that it is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking" from others.

The case will go back for a final decision to Germany's highest patent court which had sought the EU judges' advice.

Apple Inc. successfully registered its store layout as a trademark in the United States in 2010.


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