SAN FRANCISCO — The writers of a Christian rap song who initially prevailed in a copyright infringement suit against pop singer Katy Perry, tell the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an Oct. 13 appellant brief that a trial court judge wrongly relied on inadmissible evidence and an improper substantial similarity standard in vacating a $2.9 million judgment in their favor (Marcus Gray, et al. v. Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson, et al., No. 20-55401, 9th Cir.).
ATLANTA — In an Oct. 27 holding, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found no error in a Florida federal judge’s rejection of allegations by the author of a memoir about her relationship with the drug lord Pablo Escobar that a popular television show copied portions of her work (Virginia Vallejo v. Narcos Productions LLC, et al., No. 19-14894, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 33809).
DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan on Oct. 22 cleared the way for two copyright and trademark infringement plaintiffs to serve a copy of their complaint via email to defendants purportedly located in Pakistan (Versah LLC, et al. v. Ul Amin Industries, et al., No. 20-12657, E.D. Mich., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195922).
SAN FRANCISCO — In an Oct. 21 holding, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found no error in a California federal judge’s dismissal, on jurisdiction grounds, of allegations that an appellee infringed the copyright for the USA Sumo Open when it rebroadcast portions of the event throughout Japan (Superama Corporation Inc. v. Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc., No. 19-55981, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 33221).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an Oct. 15 order upheld an Oklahoma federal judge’s denial of a copyright infringement defendant’s motion for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) (Christ Center of Divine Philosophy Inc. v. Ellen Veronica Elam, No. 19-6186, 10th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 32533).
NEW YORK — A defendant’s motion to dismiss allegations of copyright infringement leveled in connection with an image of the American flag was denied Oct. 16 by a federal judge in New York, who found that the plaintiff’s design might merit copyright protection (NYC Image International Inc. v. RS USA Inc., No. 19-10355, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193016).
By John P. Katerndahl
By Lauren Bolcar and Scott Pivnick
CONCORD, N.H. — A request by a prevailing copyright infringement plaintiff to strike various portions of a defendant’s expert report on damages was denied Oct. 14 by a federal judge in New Hampshire (D’Pergo Custom Guitars Inc. v. Sweetwater Sound Inc., No. 17-747, D. N.H., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189935).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 28 denied panel rehearing and rehearing en banc of findings issued in August that Oracle America Inc.’s allegations that Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) violated California’s unfair competition law (UCL) are preempted by federal copyright law (Oracle America Inc. v. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, No. 19-15506, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 30835).
PHOENIX — An individual defendant must face allegations of copyright infringement leveled in connection with his role as president of a company that helped operate the website Porn.com, a federal judge in Arizona ruled Oct. 9 (AMA Multimedia LLC v. Sagan Limited, et al., No. 16-1269, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188394).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a decade-old copyright dispute over the Java 2 Standard Edition Platform (Java SE), an attorney for Oracle America Inc. in telephonic oral arguments on Oct. 7 stressed to the U.S. Supreme Court that "code is code" (Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., No. 18-956, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A dispute over collateral estoppel and the rights of heirs to terminate copyright licenses under the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (CTEA) will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Oct. 5 denied certiorari as requested by the estate of author John Steinbeck's son (The Estate of Thomas Steinbeck, et al. v. Waverly Scott Kaffaga, No. 19-1181, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its Oct. 5 order list, the U.S. Supreme Court revealed it will let stand findings by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the Led Zeppelin classic song "Stairway To Heaven" does not infringe a copyrighted song by the band Spirit (Michael Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, et al., No. 20-142, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — Arguing that PepsiCo. Inc. did not abide by the provisions of an agency services agreement, a Connecticut advertising agency tells the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in its Sept. 11 appellant brief that a trial court erred in finding no substantial similarity between an ad that it pitched to the soft drink firm and television advertisements company ended up airing (Betty Inc. v. PepsiCo Inc., No. 20-891, 2nd Cir.).
ATLANTA — In a Sept. 30 unpublished opinion, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a Georgia federal judge's rejection of allegations that several appellees filed fraudulent trademark infringement notices and misrepresented the nature of a trademark injunction in their dispute with a former distributor (Steven Mandala v. Tire Stickers LLC, et al., No. 19-14416, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 31016).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Two expert witnesses for a woman alleging copyright infringement by the makers of professional wrestling video games for reproducing the tattoos she inked on one wrestler withstood challenges to their opinions on video game design and damages when an Illinois federal judge on Sept. 26 denied motions to exclude the experts' testimony from trial (Catherine Alexander v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., No. 18-966, S.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177131).
CINCINNATI — A federal judge in Tennessee did not err in instructing jurors that where use of "unauthorized preexisting material pervades the entire work . . . copyright protection may not be granted," the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 23 (Hiller LLC v. Success Group International Learning Alliance LLC, et al., No. 19-6115, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 30396).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee federal judge on Sept. 22 deemed three defendants asserting co-authorship rights in the Everly Brothers' song "Cathy's Clown" "aggressors" in the case, in that they "clearly seek affirmative relief" and assert grounds that "effectively mirror their defense" to a plaintiff's declaratory judgment action with regard to the validity of a termination notice (Isaac Donald Everly v. Patrice Everly, et al., No. 17-1440, M.D. Tenn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173698).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Sept. 18 awarded a professional photographer partial summary judgment on his copyright claim leveled in connection with the display by Elie Tahari Ltd. of his picture of model Linh Niller on social media without his consent (Mark Iantosca v. Elie Tahari, Ltd., No. 19-4527, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171512).