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).
CHICAGO — Stating that there has already been “enough discovery . . . to choke a horse” in a dispute over two-way radio technology between Motorola Solutions Inc. and a Chinese firm, an Illinois federal magistrate judge on April 15 denied Motorola’s motion to compel discovery related to a product that he found was outside the scope of the trade secret and copyright claims at issue (Motorola Solutions Inc. v. Hytera Communications Corp., et al., No. 1:17-cv-01973, N.D. Ill.; 20192019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64005).
PORTLAND, Ore. — A month after the U.S. Supreme Court found that an award of nontaxable costs for Oracle USA Inc. was not permissible under the Copyright Act, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 16 vacated and remanded that portion of the appeal in a long-running software licensing dispute, while a possible July argument is being considered for the recently briefed remaining appeal issues related to a permanent injunction and attorney fees (Oracle USA Inc., et al. v. Rimini Street Inc., et al., Nos. 16-16832, 16-16905 and 18-16554, 9th Cir.).
NEW YORK — A per curiam panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 17 found that disputes of material fact regarding the creation of multiple copies of a plaintiff’s photographs not at the direction of users should have precluded summary judgment on allegations of direct copyright infringement (BWP Media USA Inc. v. Polyvore Inc., Nos. Nos. 16‐2825‐cv, 16‐2992‐cv, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11208).
NEW YORK — In an April 16 ruling, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld findings by a New York federal judge that efforts by a third party to intervene in a copyright infringement action over the Ed Sheeran song “Thinking Out Loud” are untimely (Kathryn Townsend Griffin, et al. v. Edward Christopher Sheeran, et al., No. 18-1862, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11053).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal magistrate judge erred in instructing jurors in a copyright infringement case that they could find willfulness if a defendant “should have known” that his acts were infringing, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 16 (Erickson Productions Inc., et al. v. Kraig Kast, No. 15-16801, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11037).
NEW YORK — In an April 11 holding, a New York federal judge refused to dismiss allegations of infringement against a defendant that purchased the assets of a company accused of continued use of a copyrighted software program after defaulting on a license agreement (New London Associates LLC v. Kinetic Social LLC, et al., No. 18-7963, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62731).
NEW ORLEANS — A musicologist’s expert report and testimony on the similarities between copyrighted New Orleans jazz songs and accused infringing hip-hop works was stricken April 10 by a Louisiana federal judge, who said the plaintiff’s expert admitted that the jazz songwriter actually performed the analyses for the report, not the expert (Paul Batiste v. Ryan Lewis, et al., No. 17-4435, E.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61605).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In what it calls “the copyright case of the decade,” Google LLC filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court April 10, arguing that a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in which the court found the copying of certain Java software interface code to be infringement conflicts with longstanding precedent and industry practices, thus meriting high court review despite the lack of a circuit split (Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., No. 18-956, U.S. Sup.).
MINNEAPOLIS — A sound engineer’s assertion that an arbitrator erred in finding that copyright law does not preempt breach of contract claims by Paisley Park Enterprises Inc., the recording label of the late artist Prince, was rejected April 8 by a Minnesota federal judge (Paisley Park Enterprises Inc., et al. v. George Ian Boxill, et al., No. 17-1212, D. Minn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59673).
SAN FRANCISCO — A franchisor saw its intentional interference with contractual relations counterclaim dismissed April 4 by a California federal judge who rejected the counterclaimant’s challenge to the naming of its franchisees as defendants in a copyright infringement lawsuit (Fotohaus LLC v. PFG Ventures L.P., No. 18-1827, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58641).
LAS VEGAS — At an April 4 hearing, a Nevada federal magistrate judge granted a motion by Oracle USA Inc. to conduct limited discovery into whether Rimini Street Inc. is complying with an injunction in a long-running software copyright infringement lawsuit (Oracle USA Inc., et al. v. Rimini Street Inc., et al., No. 2:10-cv-00106, D. Nev.).
DENVER — Removal to federal court by a defendant of an action seeking a declaration of ownership of various written reports was improper because the underlying dispute involves rights that are not equivalent to rights within the scope of copyright law, a Colorado federal judge ruled April 3 (Joe Nieusma, Ph.D. v. Affygility Solutions LLC, No. 18-2515, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56941).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An aspiring television writer who claims that the television show “Empire” copied an idea he created filed a petition for rehearing on March 18, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its previous denial of certiorari and to grant, vacate and remand the lawsuit for further proceedings in light of a recent Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that he says will directly impact the issues in the present case (Clayton Prince Tanksley v. Lee Daniels, et al., No. 18-701, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA — After a second reversal and remand by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a group of publishers and Georgia State University (GSU) filed briefs in Georgia federal court on March 22, arguing as to whether the university’s electronic posting of excerpts from textbooks constituted copyright infringement or was protected as fair use (Cambridge University Press, et al. v. Georgia State University, et al., No. 1:08-cv-01425, N.D. Ga.).