HOUSTON — In a Nov. 21 ruling, a Texas federal judge interpreted the phrase “lawfully made under this title” as it appears in Section 109 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 109, to mean “that a copy is lawful if it was made in the United States in compliance with Title 17 or in a foreign country in a manner that would comply with Title 17 if United States copyright law applied” (Geophysical Services Inc. v. TGS Nopec-Geophysical Services, No. 14-1368, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192803).
SHERMAN, Texas — A company has properly stated a claim for relief in seeking declaratory relief against several former employees and its direct competitor for alleged trade secret misappropriation and patent and copyright infringement, among other things, and its claims under the Copyright Act provide a federal district court with federal question jurisdiction, a federal judge in Texas ruled Nov. 20 in denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss (Performance Pulsation Control Inc. v. Sigma Drilling Technologies LLC, et al., No. 17-0450, E.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191530).
CHICAGO — Efforts by two defendants to obtain dismissal of allegations they committed copyright and trademark infringement by copying and exhibiting photographs by the late Vivian Maier were unsuccessful on Nov. 20, when an Illinois federal judge deemed claims by a public administrator appointed to Maier’s estate upon her death in 2009 adequately pleaded (The Estate of Vivian Maier v. Jeffrey Goldstein, et al., No. 17-2951, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191294).
NEW YORK — In a Nov. 1 reply brief, an intellectual property holding company tells the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a trial court erred in dismissing its copyright infringement claims against a Singapore firm for forum non conveniens, arguing that the defendant’s business ties in the United States, as well as its acts of infringement, adequately established New York jurisdiction (The Wave Studio LLC v. General Hotel Management Ltd., et al., No. 17-1018, 2nd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals mistakenly held that a usenet service provider did not profit from the millions of unauthorized copyrighted images on its fee-based websites, an adult website operator argues in a Nov. 8 reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a writ of certiorari to resolve what it says is a circuit split over a copyright holder’s duty to establish an infringer’s profits directly attributable to its works (Perfect 10 Inc. v. Giganews Inc., et al, No. 17-320, U.S. Sup.).
TOLEDO, Ohio — An architectural expert in a home design copyright infringement action cannot opine that a company’s designs do not merit copyright protection because the opinion is an impermissible legal conclusion, though the expert can testify about the similarities and differences between the parties’ designs, an Ohio federal judge held Nov. 14 (Design Basics LLC v. Forrester Wehrle Homes, Inc., et al., No. 3:15-cv-00666, N.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188005).
NEW ORLEANS — An allegation of unfair competition by misappropriation under Texas law was properly rejected by a Texas federal judge on the basis of federal preemption under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., and Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 14 (Motion Medical Technologies LLC, et al. v. ThermoTek Inc., No. 16-11381, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22826).
RICHMOND, Va. — Allegations that the creator of a cloud computing environment committed computer fraud when it copied and transferred data to former employees of a company it once contracted with are preempted by the Copyright Act, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 13 (OpenRisk LLC v. MicroStrategy Services Corp., No. 16-1852, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22736).
LAS VEGAS — Adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, a California federal judge on Nov. 7 severed all but one defendant accused of infringing a movie’s copyright via online file sharing, with the judge deeming the defendants improperly joined (ME2 Productions Inc. v. Mikiyas Bayu, et al., No. 2:17-cv-00724, D. Nev., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184021).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge did not err in rejecting allegations that a licensee violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a), when it modified security measures to prevent two software programs from self-enforcing certain licensing restrictions because the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate the copyrightability of the underlying programs, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 8 (Dynamic Concepts Inc. and Point 4 Data Corp. v. Tri-State Surgical Supply, et al., Nos. 15-0563, -3212, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22348).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Texas federal judge’s denial of a motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment action relating to patent, copyright and trade dress protection for fiberglass utility bodies for use with trucks was affirmed Nov. 7 by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which agreed that an actual case or controversy existed between the parties (Industrial Models Inc. v. SNF Inc., et al., Nos 17-1172, -1173, Fed. Cir.).
TRENTON, N.J. — An engineering firm in a misappropriation of trade secrets lawsuit has failed to show that it had a valid copyright registration or had applied for a copyright it alleges two former employees misappropriated after becoming employed by the firm’s competitor, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Nov. 6 in dismissing the firm’s complaint without prejudice (Kipcon Inc. v. D.W. Smith Associates LLC, No. 17-3190, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183576).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 6 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in a copyright infringement action over the popular John Madden Football series computer game in which the court was asked to determine the standard for the admissibility of expert testimony in copyright infringement disputes involving computer codes (Robin Antonick v. Electronic Arts Inc., No. 17-168, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Asserting that an appeals court’s ruling in its favor presented no conflicts with copyright law or controlling case law, a usenet provider argues in an Oct. 20 brief in the U.S. Supreme Court that there is no merit to an adult website operator’s petition for certiorari appealing a finding that the respondent was not liable for infringing content posted by its users (Perfect 10 Inc. v. Giganews Inc., et al., No. 17-320, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — In an Oct. 26 brief appealing a $4 million statutory damages award that assigned a per-photo fine for 2,700 real estate photos deemed infringing, Zillow Group Inc. tells the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that its online use of the pictures was transformative and fair use (VHT Inc. v. Zillow Group Inc., et al., No. 17-35587 and 17-35588, 9th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Although a United Kingdom limited company intentionally copied a competitor’s logos for reproduction on its newsletters, the intentionally infringing acts were not expressly aimed at the state of California, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 1, affirming dismissal of a copyright infringement action (Axiom Foods Inc., et al. v. Acerchem UK Limited, No. 15-56450, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 21801).
DENVER — A Utah federal judge’s decision to deny The SCO Group Inc. leave to amend its tortious interference complaint against International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) to add a new claim for copyright infringement was affirmed Oct. 30 by the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (The SCO Group Inc. v. International Business Machines Corp., No. 16-4040, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 21487).
CHICAGO — A defendant who sold counterfeit “Monster Energy” products online was ordered by an Illinois federal judge on Oct. 23 to pay Monster Energy Co. $650,000 in damages in connection with allegations of copyright and trademark infringement (Monster Energy Company v. Zheng Peng, et al., No. 17-414, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175287).
LOS ANGELES — A defendant in a misappropriation of trade secrets and copyright infringement lawsuit will pay more than $6.8 million in damages on claims that he used his former employer’s trade secrets to develop a competing 3-D imaging device for the dental industry, a federal judge in California ruled Oct. 19 in granting the former employer’s motion for damages and entry of judgment (Sirona Dental Systems Inc., et al. v. Jian Lu, No. 15-8777, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174510).
SAN FRANCISCO — Allegations that a copyright infringement case is time-barred as well as deficient for failure to satisfy the registration requirement of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §411, were turned away Oct. 18 by a California federal judge (Margaret Eve-Lynne Miyasaki v. Kyna Treacy, No. 12-4427, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172705).