Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
Headline Copyright Legal News from LexisNexis®
Oracle Denied New Trial, Judgment In Java Suit Post-Trial Proceedings
SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle America Inc. saw its post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) and for a new trial denied by a California federal judge Sept. 27, who found that defendant Google Inc. did not engage in any discovery misconduct meriting a new trial (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 3:10-cv-03561, N.D. Calif.).
Wisconsin Federal Judge Clears Path For Trial, Won't Invalidate Copyrights
MILWAUKEE - Efforts by myriad infringement defendants to invalidate various copyrights as a sanction for the alleged spoliation of evidence were unsuccessful on Sept. 12, when a Wisconsin federal judge denied the request and instead scheduled the case for trial, indicating that no reference to spoliation will appear in the jury instructions (Design Basics LLC v. Campbellsport Building Supply Inc., et al., No. 13-560, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123126).
With Registration Requirement Now Met, West Virginia Judge Reinstates Copyright Case
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - One month after dismissing a purported copyright infringement case, a West Virginia federal judge on Sept. 12 granted a plaintiff leave to amend in light of the plaintiff's recently received copyright registrations (CSS Inc. v. Christopher Herrington, et al., No. 16-1762, S.D. W.Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122869).
9th Circuit Affirms: Copyright Plaintiff Failed To Prove Access To Work
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge properly granted three defendants summary judgment on allegations that they infringed a copyrighted two-measure vocal melody in their hit song "Domino" because the plaintiff failed to present any admissible evidence that established access to the allegedly infringed work, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 2 (Will Loomis v. Jessie J., et al., No. 13-57093, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16261).
Dismissal Of Copyright Claims Against Beyonce Explained By Federal Judge
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 12 explained, in writing, his Aug. 31 "bottom-line Order" that dismissed allegations of copyright infringement levied against pop star Beyonce and others associated with the film and musical album "Lemonade" (Matthew Fulks v. Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, et al., No. 16-4278, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123150).
5th Circuit Affirms: Trade Secret Claims Not Preempted By Copyright Act
NEW ORLEANS - A $15 million judgment on allegations of trade secret misappropriation will stand, in light of findings on Sept. 7 by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the case is not preempted by the Copyright Act (GlobeRanger Corporation v. Software AG, No. 15-10121, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16429).
9th Circuit Reverses Dismissal Of Effort To Enforce Copyright Award
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge erred in refusing to enforce a 2 million Euro judgment ordered by a French court against an American art editor accused of copyright violations under the California Uniform Foreign-Court Monetary Judgment Recognition Act, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 26 (Yves Sicre de Fontbrune v. Alan Wofsy, No. 14-15790, 9th Cir. 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 17477).
Trademark Counterclaim Survives Motion In New Jersey Federal Litigation
TRENTON, N.J. - Counterclaims of contributory copyright infringement were rejected Sept. 22 by a New Jersey federal judge as barred by the economic loss doctrine because the allegations giving rise to the counterclaim are not "separate and distinct" from a related breach of contract counterclaim (Air Express International d/b/a DHL Global Forwarding Corporation v. LOG-NET Inc., No. 12-1732, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129409).
New York Federal Judge Won't Strike Innocent Infringement Defense
NEW YORK - Although agreeing with three textbook publishers that a defendant cannot raise the affirmative defenses of copyright misuse and unclean hands to allegations of infringement, a New York federal judge on Sept. 19 denied a motion to strike the related affirmative defense of "innocent infringement" (John Wiley & Sons Inc., et al. v. Book Dog Books LLC, et al., No. 13-816, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127307).
Temporary Restraining Order, Dismissal Denied In Texas Copyright Case
DALLAS - Efforts by a copyright infringement and false advertising plaintiff to obtain a temporary restraining order barring the construction of a single-family home were unsuccessful Sept. 16, when a Texas federal judge denied the request (The Joseph Paul Corporation d/b/a The Joseph Paul Homes v. Trademark Custom Homes, Inc., et al., No. 16-1651, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126206).
Allegations That Textbook Maker Exceeded Copyright License Will Proceed
NEW YORK - Efforts by McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC and McGraw-Hill School Education Holdings LLC (McGraw-Hill, collectively) to dismiss allegations of copyright infringement were unsuccessful Sept. 16, when a New York federal judge rejected the textbook publishers' claim that 14 disputed photographs are in the public domain (Joseph Sohm v. McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC, et al., No. 16-4255, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126836).
ABC, Yahoo Sued Over Broadcast, Posting Of Live Birth Video
NEW YORK - American Broadcasting Cos. Inc. (ABC) and Yahoo! Inc. were named as defendants in a Sept. 22 complaint in New York federal court by a man who claims that the companies breached the copyright in his video of a live birth that was aired on television and posted online without his permission (Kali Kanongataa v. American Broadcasting Companies Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-07382, S.D. N.Y.).
YouTube User Seeks High Court Clarification On Fair Use In Copyright Dispute
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A YouTube user asks the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 12 petition for certiorari to consider whether a user is liable under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when she had a good faith belief that a video was protected by the fair use doctrine (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., Nos. 16-217 & 16-218, U.S. Sup.).
Company Tells Supreme Court Appellate Decision On Limitations Period Conflicts With Petrella
CHICAGO - An appellate court's decision that a copyright complaint must be dismissed for falling outside the three-year statute of limitations proscribed by the Copyright Act conflicts with Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (134 S. Ct. 1962, 1969 ), Consumer Health Information Corp. (CHIC) says in a July 14 petition to the U.S. Supreme Court (Consumer Health Information Corp. v. Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 16-282, U.S. Sup.).
Manufacturer To U.S. High Court: Cheerleader Uniforms Are Copyright Protected
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two-dimensional graphic designs are eligible for copyright protection, a cheerleader uniform manufacturer argues in a Sept. 14 response brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, further explaining that the protection is not lost when the designs appear on three-dimensional cheerleading uniforms (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Google, Oracle Spar Over Post-Judgment Sanctions For Financial Info Disclosure
SAN FRANCISCO - In an Aug. 8 opposition brief filed in California federal court, Oracle America Inc. calls a post-trial motion for civil contempt and sanctions by Google Inc. "unprecedented," asserting that the discovery trial statements that purportedly disclosed confidential information "were responsive" to arguments from Google and probing questions from the presiding magistrate (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 3:10-cv-03561, N.D. Calif.).
Internet Service Provider Launches Appeal Of Copyright Verdict
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Aug. 23 transmitted to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals an Aug. 19 notice of appeal by Cox Communications Inc. and CoxCom (Cox, collectively) of a December 2015 jury verdict that the Internet service providers (ISPs) committed contributory copyright infringement (BMG Rights Management [US] LLC v. Cox Communications Inc., et al., No. 14-1611, E.D. Va.).
9th Circuit: Willful Copyright Infringement Claim Improperly Rejected
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge erred in granting Live Nation Merchandise Inc. summary judgment on allegations of willful infringement because a reasonable jury could have concluded that Live Nation distributed a plaintiff's photographs with knowledge that copyright management information (CMI) had been removed, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 18 (Glen E. Friedman v. Live Nation Merchandise Inc., No. 14-55302, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 15178).
3rd Circuit Affirms: Defendant Benefitted From Distributor Infringement
PHILADELPHIA - A Delaware federal judge did not err in upholding a jury verdict of direct and contributory copyright infringement in a dispute over stem cell photographs, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 24 (Andrew Paul Leonard, et al. v. Stemtech International Inc., Nos. 15-9138, -3247, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 15565).
Illinois Federal Judge Says Meijer, Others Infringed Copyright
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A copyright infringement plaintiff on Aug. 25 won partial summary judgment when an Illinois federal judge found that the "undisputed facts" demonstrate that three defendants copied the "particularized expression" of an idea for a clothespin featuring a silhouetted bird design (Design Ideas Ltd. v. Meijer Inc., et al., No. 15-3093, C.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113704).
Federal Judge Declares Copyrights, Trade Dress, Patents Not Infringed
FORT WORTH, Texas - A defendant has failed to show "where, how and why" a plaintiff's planned fiberglass utility body (FUB) would infringe any protectable trade dress belonging to the defendant, thereby entitling the plaintiff to a declaration of noninfringement, a Texas federal judge ruled Aug. 29 (Industrial Models Inc. v. SNF Inc., et al., No. 15-689, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115644).
Illinois Federal Judge: Television Commercials Not Substantially Similar
CHICAGO - Allegations that Steak n Shake Inc. infringed the copyrighted television advertisement of a competitor were rejected Aug. 5 by an Illinois federal judge, who deemed the commercials dissimilar (Culver Franchising System Inc. v. Steak n Shake Inc., No. 16-75, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103091).
2nd Circuit Vacates Copyright Holding In Favor Of Sony
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge's rejection of copyright infringement claims against Sony Music Entertainment - based upon a determination that the "Iron Man" composition was a work for hire commissioned by Marvel Comics - was vacated July 29 by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that material fact issues regarding ownership should have precluded summary judgment (Jack Urbont v. Sony Music Entertainment et al., No. 15-1778, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13775).
Florida Federal Judge Strikes Defenses, Dismisses Copyright Counterclaims
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A seven-count declaratory judgment counterclaim was rejected in its entirety by a Florida federal judge on Aug. 30 as a shotgun pleading without prejudice to refile, with the exception of two counts seeking cancellation of a plaintiff's copyright and an award of attorney fees, which were dismissed with prejudice (PK Studios Inc. v. R.L.R. Investments LLC, et al., No. 15-389, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116057).
4th Circuit Orders Forfeiture Of Megaupload's Foreign-Held Assets
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority on Aug. 12 upheld a trial court ruling ordering the forfeiture to the U.S. government of New Zealand and Hong Kong-held assets of now defunct Internet file storage service Megaupload and others involved in a criminal copyright infringement conspiracy, finding the forfeiture to be supported by the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) (United States of America v. Finn Batato, et al., No. 15-1360, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14861).
Copyright Owners Ask High Court To Deny Review Of Copyright Term Extension Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Copyright owners to the classic holiday song "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" argue to the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 8 response brief that an appellate court did not err in rejecting a music company's bid to reconsider publisher's rights under Section 304(d) of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1978 (CTEA), which is set to expire (EMI Feist Catalog Inc. v. Gloria Coots Baldwin, et al., No. 15-1335, U.S. Sup.).
Music Publishers Argue Class Action State Law Claims Are Preempted Under Copyright Act
NEW YORK - Music publishers argue in an Aug. 20 reply brief that a New York federal court should dismiss a proposed class action seeking licensing fees collected from their alleged copyright to the song "We Shall Overcome" because the copyright is valid and that the class action plaintiffs' state law claims are preempted under the Copyright Act (We Shall Overcome Foundation and Butler Films LLC v. The Richmond Organization Inc. and Ludlow Music Inc., No. 16-02725, S.D. N.Y.).
Amicus Curiae Filers Tell U.S. High Court Cheerleader Uniforms Are 'Useful Articles'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A garment is a "useful article" that cannot be copyrighted, amicus curiae filers argue in a July 22 brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Star Athletica LLC's argument that a cheerleader uniform manufacturer's copyright infringement claim involves the design of useful articles, not fabric designs (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Oracle To California Federal Court: Google's Copying Of Java Was Not Fair Use
SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle America Inc. argues in a July 27 brief that a California federal jury was wrong to find that Google Inc.'s use of its copyrighted Java software code was protected by fair use because a reasonable jury could not have found that the use of the Java code was not transformative (Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 10-03561, N.D. Calif.).
4 Questions Certified To Florida Supreme Court In Sirius Copyright Case
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 29 directed the Supreme Court of Florida to address the question of whether the state "recognizes common law copyright in sound recordings and, if so, whether that copyright includes the exclusive right of reproduction and/or the exclusive right of public performance" (Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No. 15-13100, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 11860).
7th Circuit Rules Against Photographer In Copyright Case
CHICAGO - An Indiana federal judge properly rejected a photographer's copyright claims because although several defendants committed infringement, they promptly removed the infringing photograph from their website and their use caused no damages, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 1 (Richard Bell v. Cameron Taylor, et al., Nos. 15-2343, -3735 and 15-3731, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12175).
New York Federal Judge Sides With Fashion Website In Copyright Dispute
NEW YORK - Applying Cartoon Network LP v. CSC Holdings, Inc. (536 F.3d 121, 130 [2nd Cir. 2008]) (Cablevision) and related cases, a New York federal judge on July 15 concluded that "no reasonable juror" could find that a defendant Internet service provider "acted volitionally" when it hosted an online community that allowed users to save and display copyrighted photographs (BWP Media USA Inc. v. Polyvore Inc., No. 13-7867, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92121).
7th Circuit Partly Affirms Discovery Sanctions Against Attorney In File-Sharing Suit
CHICAGO - In a July 19 ruling, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed discovery sanctions against an attorney in a "porno-trolling collective" for what it called egregious and obstructive behavior in failing to comply with a trial court's sanctions awards against it in the wake of a dismissed file-sharing lawsuit (Lightspeed Media Corp., et al. v. Anthony Smith, et al., No. 15-2440, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13195).
California Federal Judge Reduces Award In Hookah Copyright Suit
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on July 11 partially granted a defense motion for a directed verdict, reducing by $800,000 a jury award against a retailer that sold a copyrighted hookah without the maker's permission because two of the flavors it sold were not counterfeited (Kaloud Inc. v. Shisha Land Wholesale Inc., No. 2:15-cv-3706, C.D. Calif.).
Judge Allows Damages Testimony In Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
MADISON, Wis. - In a copyright infringement lawsuit, an expert may testify that a software company did not suffer any damages at all, a Wisconsin federal judge ruled July 8 (Epic Systems Corp. v. Attachmate Corp., No. 15-179, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88572).
Federal Judge: Copyright Claims Not Likely to Succeed
TRENTON, N.J. - While recognizing that "the question of who a customer 'belongs to' may not be immediately clear," a New Jersey federal judge on June 30 nonetheless denied a copyright infringement plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction in its dispute with a competitor in the professional insurance market (Jorgensen & Company v. Gary Sutherland, et al., No. 15-7373, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85498).
Judge Awards Production Company $1.8 Million For Improper Use Of Movie Name
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on July 11 awarded a movie production company that asserted causes of action for copyright infringement and violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) $1,885,969.96 in damages and entered a permanent injunction ordering another entity and its owner from ever using the company's movie trademark again (Fuzzy Logic Productions Inc. v. Trapflix LLC, et al., No. 15-6203, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90290).
German Firm Says U.S. Navy Exceeded License For Virtual Reality Software
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A German-based software development firm filed suit against the U.S. government July 15 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking almost $600 million in damages for the U.S. Navy's copyright infringement, which the firm says occurred when the Navy far exceeded a limited license it had previously been granted to use the firm's virtual reality software (Bitmanagement Software GmbH v. The United States of America, No. 1:16-cv-00840, Fed. Clms.).
Complaint: Digital Millennium Copyright Act Provisions Violate 1st Amendment
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A complaint filed July 21 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia targets the "anti-circumvention" and "anti-trafficking" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), stating that they chill "protected and noninfringing speech that relies on copyrighted works" without providing speakers with the traditional safeguard of "the fair use doctrine" in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Matthew Green, et al. v. U.S. Department of Justice, et al., No. 1:16-cv-01492, D. D.C.).
Author Fails To Show 'Empire' Stole From Novel, Defendants Say To California Federal Court
RICHMOND, Va. - An author cannot show that defendants had access to his novel to prove that the television show "Empire" was taken from it, defendants argue to a California federal court on May 13 in a reply brief to their motion to dismiss a $1.5 billion case for copyright infringement (Timothy J. Levi v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., et al., No. 16-129, E.D. Va.).
Company Argues To U.S. Supreme Court: Cheerleader Uniforms Are 'Useful Articles'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A cheerleader uniform manufacturer's copyright-infringement claim involves the design of useful articles, not fabric designs, Star Athletica LLC argues in a July 15 petitioner's brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, also saying the features of those uniforms are inseparable from the utilitarian function of the uniforms themselves (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).