NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee federal judge on May 28 found that allegations by Vanderbilt University that a professor at the school, along with Scholastic Inc., infringed the “Vanderbilt” trademark may proceed (Vanderbilt University v. Scholastic Inc., et al., No. 18-46, M.D. Tenn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89065).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Clarifying its position that the law cannot be copyrighted, the state of Georgia in a May 24 reply brief supporting its petition for certiorari asks the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether annotations accompanying the law, which in themselves lack the force of law, can be copyrighted (Georgia, et al. v. Public.Resource.Org Inc., No. 18-1150, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — Allegations that the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) and three of its employees violated a pro se plaintiff’s copyrights and trademarks when it used his music in a documentary and then credited him by his stage name were rejected May 23 by a New York federal judge (Juan Pablo Chavez v. British Broadcasting Corporation, et al., No. 17-9572, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87926).
ST. LOUIS — In a May 22 holding, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal of an order staying trademark litigation for lack of appellate jurisdiction and affirmed a Missouri federal judge’s denial of preliminary injunctive relief, in a dispute over the copyrights and trademarks associated with the conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly (Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust, et al. v. Anne Cori, et al., No. 17-2115, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15123).
ATLANTA — A Florida federal judge did not abuse his discretion in finding that copyright infringement claims raised by a ministry against a YouTube critic were filed not in malice, but in a good faith belief that infringement had occurred, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 20 (Shirley Johnson v. New Destiny Christian Center Church Inc., et al., No. 18-13940, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 14842).
SAN FRANCISCO — Granting in part a motion to quash a subpoena to identify an anonymous poster to a Jehovah’s Witness-themed online forum, a California federal magistrate judge on May 17 ordered that the John Doe’s identity be revealed only to counsel so as to protect the poster’s free speech concerns, while still allowing a church-related organization to pursue copyright infringement claims over two of Doe’s posts (In re DMCA Subpoena to Reddit Inc., No. 3:19-mc-80005, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a May 2 reply brief supporting his petition for certiorari, a videographer tells the U.S. Supreme Court that a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that invalidated the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (CRCA) requires high court review (Frederick L. Allen, et al. v. Roy A. Cooper III, et al., No. 18-877, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA — A Florida federal judge’s rejection of copyright infringement claims was reversed and remanded May 1 by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which concluded that genuine issues of material fact regarding the originality of a dentist’s before and after photographs of a patient should have precluded summary judgment (Mitchell A. Pohl v. MH 1 Sub LLC d/b/a Officite, No. 18-13233, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13132).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a May 10 petition for certiorari, an online reseller of digital music files asks the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the “pivotal copyright issue” of whether the Copyright Act’s first-sale doctrine applies in the context of lawfully purchased digital music (ReDigi Inc., et al. v. Capitol Records LLC, et al., No. 18-1430, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While stating that it “adamantly defends” the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ finding that the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) is not copyrightable, a legislative resources website operator in a May 10 respondent brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a petition for certiorari by the state of Georgia to clarify application of the government edicts doctrine in the area of copyright law (Georgia, et al. v. Public.Resource.Org Inc., No. 18-1150, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge’s decision to grant two copyright infringement defendants judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) at the close of evidence in a jury trial was upheld by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 8 (Universal Instruments Corporation v. Micro Systems Engineering, et al., No. 17-2748, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13797).
LOS ANGELES — In accord with an in-chambers order in which he trimmed the “excessive” number of motions in limine filed by the parties before a pending damages trial for online video-filtering service VidAngel Inc., a California federal judge on May 8 declined to permit the defendant to bring a sixth motion to counter a purported “unfair advantage” related to an extra expert witness provided by the plaintiff movie studios (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 2:16-cv-04109, C.D. Calif.).
DENVER — In a May 7 ruling, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals left intact a jury’s finding that an appellant is liable for copyright infringement in connection with its copying of a standard collection letter and service agreement (Advanced Recovery Systems LLC, et al. v. American Agencies LLC, No. 17-4202, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13591).
SAN FRANCISCO — Although agreeing with a California federal magistrate judge that copyright claims levied against Microsoft Corp. that involve conduct taking place before the filing of a 2013 patent infringement action are subject to claim preclusion, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 2 found that a plaintiff may proceed with allegations that the software giant continued to infringe its copyrights through sales taking place after the patent case was filed (Media Rights Technologies Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 17-16509, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13239).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its April 29 orders list, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the U.S. solicitor general to express the views of the federal government on whether copyright protection extends to software interfaces (Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., No. 18-956, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Although vacating a California federal judge’s award of attorney fees incurred in connection with a successful defense of copyright infringement claims, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 23 agreed that related allegations premised on “extraordinarily weak” trademarks qualify as exceptional (Amusement Art LLC v. Life is Beautiful LLC, et al., No. 17-55045, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11916).
RICHMOND, Va. — In an April 26 holding, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed with the conclusion reached by a Virginia federal judge that an unlicensed and unattributed use of a photograph on a website promoting a film festival constitutes a fair use under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 107 (Russell Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions LLC, No. 18-1763, 4th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12572).
SAN FRANCISCO — A dismissal with prejudice by a California federal judge of allegations of copyright infringement raised in connection with a lace textile design was reversed and remanded a second time April 24 by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Malibu Textiles Inc. v. Label Lane International Inc., et al., Nos. 17-55983, 55984, 56531, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11946).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an April 22 brief, North Carolina urges the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a videographer’s petition for certiorari in a dispute over the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (CRCA), arguing that the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals correctly found the statute to be an unconstitutional abrogation of states’ sovereign immunity (Frederick L. Allen, et al. v. Roy A. Cooper III, et al., No. 18-877, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 17 found that a New York federal judge erred when he found that an agreement between a songwriter and two music labels permitted the labels to offset royalties due to the songwriter by attorney fees the labels incurred in defending a copyright infringement action (Robert Pettibone v. WB Music Corp., et al., No. 18-1000, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11201).