PITTSBURGH — Although acknowledging that two children’s books share “some similarity,” a Pennsylvania federal judge on April 27 deemed those similarities a “random scattershot” of aspects that would be expected by two works expressing the same unprotectable idea (Jennie Nicassio v. Viacom International Inc., et al., No. 17-805, W.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70730).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A magistrate judge did not err in rejecting efforts by prevailing copyright and trademark infringement plaintiffs to recover damages under both the Copyright Act and the Lanham Act because double recovery is disfavored in cases involving the sale of pirated material, a New York federal judge ruled April 25 (Cengage Learning Inc., et al. v. Globonline SDN BHD, et al., No. 14-3174, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70315).
SAN FRANCISCO — Although finding that a monkey possesses jurisdictional standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 23 upheld a California federal judge’s dismissal of the monkey’s copyright claims, citing a lack of statutory standing (Naruto, a Crested Macaque, by and through his Next Friends, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. David John Slater, et al., No. 16-15469, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10129).
CHICAGO — Allegations by the operator of a trading website that a customer opened an account solely with the intention of copying the plaintiff’s business model and associated intellectual property can proceed, an Illinois federal judge ruled April 18 (TopstepTrader LLC v. OneUp Trader LLC, et al., No. 17-4412, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64815).
NEW YORK — A Spanish-language media firm in an April 17 appellee brief asks the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling that its radio stations’ broadcast of certain songs did not infringe their copyrights, arguing that the plaintiff failed to establish any ownership in the works (Latin American Music Company Inc., et al. v. Spanish Broadcasting System Inc., No. 17-1953, 2nd Cir.).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on April 18 ordered a lighting design company and its owner to pay Restoration Hardware Inc. $1.3 million in statutory damages, following entry of a default judgment on allegations of copyright infringement and false designation of origin (Restoration Hardware Inc. v. Lighting Design Wholesalers Inc., No. 17-5553, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65099).
SAN DIEGO — Myriad infringement defendants, including late night television host Conan O’Brien, may amend their answer to levy allegations that a plaintiff freelance comedy writer committed fraud upon the U.S. Copyright Office when seeking copyright protection for a joke, a California federal judge ruled April 13 (Robert Alexander Kaseberg v. Conan O'Brien, et al., No. 15-1637, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63080).
NEW YORK — The safe harbor from copyright infringement liability provided to online service providers under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) extends to claims that sound in copyright infringement, a New York federal judge ruled March 31, mostly dismissing an unfair competition claim brought against video-sharing service provider Vimeo LLC by a group of record labels (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. Vimeo LLC, et al., No. 1:09-cv-10101 and -10105, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56049).
TEXARKANA, Ark. — A federal judge in Arkansas on April 11 remanded a lawsuit to state court, ruling that although a defendants’ temporary restraining order (TRO) cited Arkansas’ trade secret law, it did not justify removal to federal court because it did not cite any violations of federal copyright law as required under 28 U.S. Code Section 1447(c) (Warren Hanson, et al. v. Steven K. Randall, et al., No. 18-4025, W.D. Ark., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61330).
NEW YORK — A group of amici curiae, comprising nonprofit and media critic organizations, filed a brief April 3 urging the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rehear a case in which a panel majority found certain aspects of an online media-monitoring service use of copyrighted materials to not be fair use, despite deeming the use transformative (Fox News Network LLC v. TVEyes Inc., No. 15-3885, 2nd Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — In granting an infringement defendant summary judgment, a Texas federal judge “erred by conflating” the copyright holder’s federal statutory cause of action with a downstream licensee’s state contract law defense, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 9 (Alexander Stross v. Redfin Corporation, No. 17-50046, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8913).
NEW YORK — Citing the need for a “detailed examination” of the 1940s fictionalized play “Anastasia” and a more recent musical adaptation of the same name, a New York federal judge on April 2 denied a motion for summary judgment of no substantial similarity, writing that “there are material facts in dispute” (Jean-Etienne de Becdelievre, et al. v. Terrance McNally, et al., No. 16-9471, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55815).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its April 2 orders list, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in a copyright dispute that posed the question of whether the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act (AWCPA) was violated by a Hawaii federal judge’s grant of an unremunerated, involuntary, sua sponte implied license (Frost-Tsuji Architects v. Highway Inn Inc., et al., No. 17-1025, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — Less than a month after a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found its online media-monitoring service to not be fair use and, thus, infringing of Fox News Network LLC’s copyrighted content, TVEyes Inc. on March 20 petitioned the court for rehearing en banc, seeking reconsideration of the panel’s market harm analysis (Fox News Network LLC v. TVEyes Inc., No. 15-3885, 2nd Cir.).
NEW YORK — In a March 26 reply brief, Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P. (DSE), which holds the rights to all of Dr. Seuss’ works, tells the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a New York playwright’s use of elements from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” in a purported parody infringed the famous children’s author’s copyrights and did not constitute fair use (Matthew Lombardo, et al. v. Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P., No. 17-2952, 2nd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California federal judge erroneously denied Oracle America Inc. judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) with regard to Google Inc.’s invocation of fair use as a defense to Oracle’s claims of copyright infringement, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 27 (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., Nos. 17-1118, -1202, Fed. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A software company has failed to provide sufficient detail to show that its competitor and several former employees violated the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) by misappropriating its trade secret information to get its competing product to market before the company, a federal judge in California ruled March 23 in granting in part a defendant’s motion to dismiss (Vendavo Inc. v. Price f[x] AG, et al., No. 17-6930, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48637).
ATLANTA — A decision by a Florida federal judge to dismiss, on res judicata grounds, allegations of copyright infringement and violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125 et seq., was not erroneous, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 22 (Eric Ferrier v. James V. Atria, No. 17-11261, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 7467).
NEW YORK — Allegations that FedEx Office and Print Services Inc. committed infringement when it reproduced various copyrighted works at the request of school district licensees for noncommercial purposes were properly dismissed, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 21 (Great Minds v FedEx Office and Print Services Inc., No. 17-808, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 7035).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a March 21 ruling, a divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals largely affirmed a California federal judge’s handling of a high-profile copyright dispute involving the 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” which the panel agreed was infringed (Pharrell Williams, et al. v. Frankie Christian Gaye, et al., No. 15-56880, 16-55089 and 16-55626, 9th Cir.).