Applying French-law principles, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel has determined that a French-press coffee maker sold in the United States does not violate an agreement carving up the global marketplace between two companies that make and sell similar coffee makers. Bodum USA, Inc. v. La Cafetière, Inc., No. 09-1892 (7th Cir., decided September 2, 2010). Each member of the three-judge panel wrote separately to discuss whether it is appropriate in cases requiring the application of foreign law for courts to consider expert testimony or to conduct independent research on foreign-law precepts.
Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judge Richard Posner favored the latter approach, particularly where abundant English-language material exists to explain the foreign law. Judge Diane Wood did not object to the use of written sources of foreign law,” but concurred to object to any disparagement of oral testimony from foreign law experts. “That kind of testimony has been used by responsible lawyers for years,” according to Wood, “and there will be many instances in which it is adequate by itself or it provides a helpful gloss on the literature.” She was apparently concerned that translation nuances could mislead or confuse the court.