January 2012 – 6th Circuit Copyright Litigation Update

Substantial Similarity

Pollick v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1203 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 12, 2012)

The court denied a motion to reconsider its summary judgment, reiterating the reasons that the parties’ respective “diaper jeans” were dissimilar, such that plaintiff’s complaint was patently unreasonable.

 

Pleading Standards; Originality; Preemption

Dorchen/Martin Assocs. v. Brook of Cheboygan, Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5710 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 18, 2012)

Plaintiff alleged infringement of its copyrighted architectural designs.  The court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the complaint failed to specify the allegedly original, copyrighted elements of the architectural work, but gave plaintiffs leave to amend.

The court also dismissed a “civil conspiracy” claim as preempted by the Copyright Act.

 

Originality; Preemption

Kendall Holdings, Ltd. v. Eden Cryogenics LLC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5245 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 17, 2012)

The works at issue were catalogs for cryogenic goods and services.  The court found the plaintiff’s catalog to be sufficiently original to be copyrightable, and the issue of substantial similarity to be a fact question.

The court also dismissed claims under the Ohio Deceptive Practices Act, for unfair competition, and for breach of fiduciary duty as preempted by the Copyright Act.

 

Attorneys’ Fees

Pollick v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1128 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 5, 2012);

The court denied without prejudice the prevailing party’s motion for attorneys’ fees because the motion did not provide sufficient information from which to calculate a reasonable fee.

 

Misjoinder; Discovery

Patrick Collins, Inc. v. Doe, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 726 (N.D. Ohio Jan. 4, 2012)

Plaintiff was a porn company that filed this suit in California against hundreds of John Doe defendants for downloading copyrighted movies.   This matte arose on a motion to quash a subpoena issued in support of the California case.  Before the motion could be decided, the California case was dismissed for reasons of misjoinder.  Tis court acknowledged the reasons for the dismissal and that other courts had imposed sanctions in similar cases.  But it declined to impose sanctions here, because the subpoena had been properly issued under a discovery order in the California case.

 

Preemption

Minor Miracle Prods., LLC v. Starkey, 2012 Tenn. App. LEXIS 30 (Tenn. App. Jan. 12, 2012)

The state court refused to find that claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and conversion were preempted.  “Simply because the product to be produced by the company the parties created was copyrightable does not convert this state law action into one involving a copyright claim that must be brought in federal court.”