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Humane Soc'y of the United States v. Vilsack

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

August 14, 2015

HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES, APPELLANT, HARVEY DILLENBURG AND IOWA CITIZENS FOR COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT, APPELLEES
v.
THOMAS J. VILSACK, SECRETARY OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, APPELLEE

Argued May 7, 2015

Page 5

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:12-cv-01582).

Matthew E. Penzer argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs was Jonathan R. Lovvorn. Ralph E. Henry entered an appearance.

Abby C. Wright, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellee. With her on the brief were Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Scott R. McIntosh, Attorney.

Before: GRIFFITH, SRINIVASAN and PILLARD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 6

Pillard, Circuit Judge

The plaintiffs, a pork producer named Harvey Dillenburg and two animal welfare organizations who count pork producers among their members, claim that the National Pork Board has misappropriated millions of dollars from a fund for pork promotion into which pork producers are required to pay. The plaintiffs filed suit in federal district court and the court dismissed their claim for a lack of standing. We reverse.

I.

The National Pork Board is a quasi-governmental entity responsible for administering a federal regulatory scheme known as the " Pork Order." See 7 U.S.C. § 4808; see also 7 C.F.R. Part 1230. The

Page 7

Order implements the Pork Act, 7 U.S.C. § § 4801-19, the purpose of which is to promote pork in the marketplace, see 7 U.S.C. § 4801(b)(1). The Board strengthens, maintains, develops, and expands markets for pork and pork products through research and consumer information campaigns. In exchange for the Board's efforts on behalf of their industry, pork producers pay the Board a special assessment on each hog they import or sell. See 7 C.F.R. § 1230.71(b).

In 2006, the Board, with the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, bought four trademarks associated with the slogan Pork: The Other White Meat (hereinafter " the slogan" or " the mark" ) from the National Pork Producers Council, an industry trade group, for $60 million.[1] The payment terms provide that the Board will pay the Council $3 million annually for twenty years. The Board can terminate the payments at any time with one year's notice, in which case ownership of the phrase reverts back to the Council. Five years after buying the mark, the Board replaced it with a new motto, Pork: ...


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