FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Citing the existence of “many deficiencies” in a complaint for contributory copyright infringement, an Indiana federal judge on May 22 dismissed the action in a dispute over the “Transitioning Into Responsible Students” (TIRS) educational program (Angela Brooks-Ngwenya v. Bart Peterson, et al., No. 16-193, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77007).
LOS ANGELES — A trademark and copyright dispute over the phrase “Life is Beautiful” rejected on summary judgment due to a lack of similarity and a plaintiff’s unclean hands yielded a $922,309 attorney fee award on May 23 by a California federal judge (Amusement Art LLC v. Life is Beautiful LLC, et al., No. 14-8290, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79135).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington federal judge did not err in rejecting allegations that Amazon.com Inc. infringes the intellectual property of others through its online marketplace and “Fulfillment by Amazon” service, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 23 (Milo & Gabby LLC, et al. v. Amazon.com Inc., No. 16-1290, Fed. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8932).
ATLANTA — In a May 18 ruling, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that copyright registration occurs when the Register of Copyrights registers a work, and not merely when an application for a registration is filed (Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com LLC, No. 16-13726, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8766).
ATLANTA — A restaurant owner was awarded summary judgment in Georgia federal court on May 18 on an artist’s copyright infringement claims over a drawing he did of the restaurant, with the artist also losing his bid to have his wife testify as an expert witness (Floyd Anthony Fey v. Panacea Management Group LLC, et al., No. 1:16-cv-2851, N.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75637).
SAN DIEGO — Conan O’Brien and myriad other defendants associated with the “Conan” show on May 12 won a partial summary judgment that various copyrighted jokes O’Brien allegedly infringed are entitled only to “thin” protection, but in the same ruling, a California federal judge denied O’Brien summary judgment with regard to willfulness (Robert Alexander Kaseberg v. Conan O’Brien, et al., No. 15-1637, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72921).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an April 18 petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, heirs of Abbott and Costello assert their copyright interests in the legendary comedy duo’s iconic “Who’s on First?” routine, arguing that renewal of unitary copyrights in two films containing the routine preserved its copyright, which was ultimately transferred to them (TCA Television Corp., et al. v. Kevin McCollum, et al., No. 16-1258, U.S. Sup.).
SAN DIEGO — Allegations that the sellers of a Hillary Clinton bobblehead doll committed false advertising by falsely claiming an association with the Trump organization fail to plead proximate causation because the claims lack evidence of lost sales or reputational damage, a California federal judge ruled May 8 (Bobbleheads.com LLC v. Wright Brothers Inc., et al., No. 16-2790, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70050).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a May 4 amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. government voiced its opposition to a YouTube user’s petition for certiorari, opining that a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on good faith related to a copyright holder’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice does not conflict with existing case law, also stating that key issues regarding the copyright owner’s “mental state” were not properly before the lower courts (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., No. 16-217, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 2 affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling in favor of an insurer in coverage dispute arising from underlying copyright infringement claims, finding that the insured failed to connect its construction of copyright-infringing homes to its advertising (Highlands Holdings Inc. v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co., No. 16-14981, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7724).
NEW YORK — Efforts by a defendant to obtain dismissal for lack of jurisdiction and improper venue of allegations that it infringed copyrighted and trademarked fine jewelry designs were rejected May 4 by a New York federal judge, who found that personal jurisdiction exists in the case (Verragio Inc. v. SK Diamonds, No. 16-6931, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68422).
SAN FRANCISCO — Even though musicians Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke admit to being inspired by the “groove” and “feel” of a 1977 Marvin Gaye song when writing their 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines,” in an April 24 brief to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, they argue that a jury’s finding of copyright infringement was improperly based on noncopyrightable musical elements and not on the song’s lead sheet (Pharrell Williams, et al. v. Frankie Christian Gaye, et al., No. 15-56880, 16-55089 and 16-55626, 9th Cir.).
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on May 2 overruled objections filed by a plaintiff in a misappropriation of trade secrets lawsuit in response to a federal magistrate judge’s order allowing defendants to view certain confidential expert reports, finding that the plaintiff failed to show that the order was “clearly erroneous or is contrary to law” (Dresser-Rand Co. v. Schutte & Koerting Acquisition Co., et al., No. 12-184, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66424).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on May 1 agreed with Warner Bros. Entertainment and a co-defendant that a request for statutory damages and attorney fees stemming from the excerpted use of a copyrighted song in the intro to the show “Lucifer” fails as a matter of law because the work in question was unpublished at the time it was first used (Robert J. Marderosian, et al. v. Warner Bros. Entertainment, et al., No. 17-1062, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66173).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A student and his college accused of copyright infringement in connection with an assignment that made use of stock photography are entitled to summary judgment, a Tennessee federal judge ruled April 28 (TC Reiner v. Ryon Nishimori, et al., No. 15-241, M.D. Tenn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65070).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Efforts by a defendant to secure reconsideration of a March order that adopted a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge’s recommendation to deny summary judgment on a copyright infringement claim were unsuccessful on May 1 (Crestwood Membranes Inc. d/b/a i2M v. Constant Services Inc., No. 15-537, M.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66105).
PASADENA, Calif. — In an April 17 amicus curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, four internet and technology organizations oppose an adult entertainment firm’s bid for rehearing its copyright infringement suit against a usenet provider, arguing that the existing panel ruling identified the proper causal connection standard for determining vicarious liability in online and technological contexts (Perfect 10 Inc. v. Giganews Inc., et al., No. 15-55500, 15-55523 and 15-56026, 9th Cir.).
BOSTON — Despite rulings against him by a trial court and an appeals panel, a musician argues in an April 13 brief to the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that Sony Corporation of America was improperly awarded attorney fees because it did not prevail on the underlying copyright infringement claims since the prior rulings deferred adjudication on the merits to an arbitrator (Luis Adrian Cortes-Ramos v. Sony Corporation of America, et al., No. 16-2441, 1st Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill that would render the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointment subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate was passed by a bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives on April 26 in a 378 to 48 vote.
NEW YORK — A New York federal magistrate judge on April 21 recommended that a photographer be awarded $10,000 for each of five images infringed by web host Lycos Inc. — far less than the statutory maximum of $150,000 per infringed work originally sought in the case (Leif Skoogfors v. Lycos Inc., No. 16-2742, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61926).