CINCINNATI— In corrected briefs filed June 24 in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, an injection molding manufacturer and its current and past contractors argue over whether a control system made via the former contractor’s technical drawings and designs constitutes copyright infringement or, as a trial court found, is covered by patent law (RJ Control Consultants Inc., et al. v. Multiject LLC, et al., No. 20-1009, 6th Cir.).
By Meaghan H. Kent and Danae Tinelli
RICHMOND, Va. — The operator of two Russian-based “stream-ripping” websites, which a group of record labels accuse of engaging in piracy, has contacts with Virginia that “are quantitatively and qualitatively sufficient to demonstrate that he purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting business” in the state, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 26, reversing a trial court’s dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction (UMG Recordings Inc., et al. v. Tofig Kurbanov, et al., No. 19-1124, 4th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20037).
DETROIT — A chicken wings restaurant was denied a preliminary injunction on June 26 by a Michigan federal judge on claims for trademark and trade dress infringement and copyright infringement against another wings restaurant and its franchising company because many restaurants that serve chicken use circles or images of chicken in their logos (Eastpointe DWC, LLC v. Wing Snob Inc., et al., No. 19-13768, E.D. Mich., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108526).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California properly concluded that a Canadian resident accused of copyright infringement is not subject to specific jurisdiction in California under that state’s long-arm statute, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed June 19 (Jeffrey R. Werner v. Landon Dowlatsingh, No. 18-56349, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19320).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a June 22 holding, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed and remanded to a California federal judge his dismissal of allegations that the popular book and award-winning film “The Shape of Water” infringes the copyrighted play “Let Me Hear You Whisper” (David Zindel v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc., et al., No. 18-56087, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19444).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 17 affirmed a lower federal court’s finding that a commercial general liability insurance policy’s intellectual property (IP) exclusion bars coverage for an underlying copyright infringement lawsuit against an insured and that the exclusion’s “advertising exception” does not apply (Spandex House, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Company, et al., No. 19-2784, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19177).
CHICAGO — A Wisconsin federal judge did not err in denying a copyright and trademark infringement defendant an award of its attorney fees following a voluntary dismissal of the claims by the defendant’s former employer, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 17 (Timothy B. O’Brien LLC v. David Knott, et al., No. 19-2138, 7th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 18957).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a June 11 holding, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed with a Nevada federal judge that a defendant accused of disseminating, via BitTorrent network, the copyrighted film “Criminal” is entitled to reimbursement of her attorney fees (Criminal Productions Inc. v. Tracy Cordoba, No. 18-15919, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 18538).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 8 upheld a New York federal judge’s rejection of allegations that a photographer and a makeup company incurred legal liability for their use of an appellant’s “makeup artistry” in a photoshoot (Sammy Mourabit v. Steven Klein, et al., No. 19-2142, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 18281).
NEW YORK — A dispute over the use by the Welsh government of two copyrighted photographs of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas will proceed, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 8, because the Welsh government — a political subdivision of the United Kingdom — is not entitled to immunity in an infringement action (Pablo Star Ltd., et al. v. The Welsh Government, No. 19-1262, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 17936).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 9 agreed with a copyright owner that a California federal judge abused his discretion in imposing the “harsh penalty” of dismissal for failure to prosecute, just 81 days after the lawsuit was filed (Nick Koudis v. Real Estate Heaven International Inc., No. 19-56016, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 18069).
CINCINNATI — A majority panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 1 found that a $296,208 judgment entered against a copyright infringement defendant “shocks the conscience,” requiring remand of the dispute to a Tennessee federal judge for calculation of an appropriate remittitur or, if necessary, to retry the question of damages (Singletary Construction LLC v. Reda Home Builders Inc., et al., No. 19-5491, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 17371).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a May 29 decision, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a California federal judge’s final judgment of willful infringement following a jury trial in a copyright case on grounds that the district court was required to submit a defendant’s allegation that the copyright registration in question contained inaccurate information to the Register of Copyrights (Unicolors Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz L.P., Nos. 18-56253, 56548, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 17097).
NEW YORK — A former collaborator of Jerry Seinfeld asked the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rehear an appeal that dismissed his copyright claims over the comedian’s series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” arguing in his May 22 petition for rehearing that a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision pertaining to accrual of authorship claims supports his claims (Christian Charles v. Jerry Seinfeld, et al., No. 19-3335, 2nd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its May 26 orders list, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will not review a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a Texas company possessed an implied copyright license to use a Canadian company’s decades-old seismic data (Geophysical Service Inc. v. TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Co., No. 19-873, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA — A federal magistrate judge erred in determining that although a software company had sufficiently shown that its transformative database is a trade secret in a pair of lawsuits against industry competitors, the company failed to show that the defendants misappropriated the trade secret because he failed to consider multiple alternative types of misappropriation contemplated under Florida’s trade secret law, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 20 in partly remanding the magistrate judge’s findings of fact (Compulife Software Inc. v. Moses Newman, et al., Nos. 18-12004 and 18-12007, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 16052).
CINCINNATI — A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 14 upheld a Tennessee federal judge’s decision to deny a copyright owner’s request for an injunction that would have barred a Christmas-themed light show from taking place during the 2019 holiday season (Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market Ltd. v. Glowco LLC, et al., No. 19-6282, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 15482).
LAS VEGAS — In the latest dispute between Oracle USA Inc. and Rimini Street Inc. in their decadelong lawsuit over copyright infringements and software licenses, Oracle on May 12 filed a motion for sanctions in response to Rimini’s recent motion to enforce, which the plaintiff characterizes as harassment and an example of the defendant’s repeated attempts “to circumvent and undermine” an injunction issued against it by the Nevada federal court (Oracle USA Inc., et al. v. Rimini Street Inc., et al., No. 2:10-cv-00106, D. Nev.).
SEATTLE — On remand after a mixed Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, a Washington federal judge on May 8 ruled that a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the copyright registration requirement did not affect the status of the lawsuit in which Zillow Group Inc. was found to have infringed the copyrights of photos posted in its online real estate listings (VHT Inc. v. Zillow Group Inc., et al., No. 2:15-cv-01096, W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81714).