DETROIT — Efforts by the son of the author of the hit song “Mustang Sally” to invalidate his father’s grant of all interests in that work and others were unsuccessful June 19, when a Michigan federal judge found that the copyright case is time-barred (Duane Rice v. Music Royalty Consulting Inc., et al., No. 18-13517, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102469).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a June 14 in-chambers order, a federal judge in California rejected allegations that the creators of the television show “Empire” committed copyright infringement, citing a plaintiff’s “repeated failures” to plausibly allege access by the defendants to the plaintiff’s copyrighted work (Jon Astor-White v. Daniel William Strong, et al., No. 15-6326, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100247).
LOS ANGELES — Online video-filtering service VidAngel Inc. on June 17 opposed a motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that plaintiff movie studios filed in California federal court on day four of oral arguments in a damages trial related to copyright infringement and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 2:16-cv-04109, C.D. Calif.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal judge on June 7 granted a motion for discovery sanctions to the widow of a photographer embroiled in a lawsuit over her husband’s works’ intellectual property rights, with the judge mostly adopting a magistrate’s report and recommendation related to the defendants’ ongoing failure to comply with their discovery obligations (Rita C. Ho v. Mark Pinsukanjana, et al., No. 4:17-cv-06520, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96274).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In a June 4 ruling, a New York federal judge endorsed a magistrate judge’s earlier recommendation that a former Subway franchisee should be barred from any further use of the “Subway” trademarks and a related, copyrighted mural (Doctor’s Associates LLC, et al. v. Abdul Hai, No. 19-1968, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95417).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a June 5 complaint in California federal court, a technology and research company in the Republic of Lithuania sued Facebook Inc. and Princeton University for purportedly misappropriating its trade secrets related to scene recognition technology and the area of virtual reality (UAB “Planner5D” v. Facebook Inc., et al., No. 3:19-cv-03132, N.D. Calif.).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a June 5 decision, a federal judge in Tennessee found that failure by a trademark and copyright infringement plaintiff to establish that a foreign company is the parent company of a domestic co-defendant compels dismissal of the foreign company from the action (TailGate Beer LLC v. Boulevard Brewing Company, et al., No. 18-563, M.D. Tenn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94271).
CHICAGO — In a June 4 per curiam ruling, a panel of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that an appellant failed to timely appeal dismissal of her copyright infringement complaint and that an Illinois federal judge’s subsequent denial of her motion for leave to amend was not an abuse of discretion (Chloris Hall v. Author Solutions LLC, et al., No. 18-3520, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16763).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a June 4 opinion, a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that a defendant accused of copyright infringement is entitled to an award of attorney fees, “even though” it prevailed “on a technical defense” (Gold Value International Textile Inc. v. Sanctuary Clothing LLC, No. 17-55818, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16675).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its orders list issued June 3, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take on a challenge to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ July 2018 holding that the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (CRCA), 17 U.S.C. § 511, is unconstitutional (Frederick L. Allen, et al. v. Roy A. Cooper III, et al., No. 18-877, U.S. Sup.).
MIAMI — Allegations of copyright infringement by a journalist who authored a memoir of her relationship with the drug lord Pablo Escobar were largely dismissed without prejudice on May 24 by a Florida federal judge (Virginia Vallejo v. Narcos Productions LLC, et al., No. 18-23462, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89008).
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.).