Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: April 2010 Copyright Infringement Cases

Traverse Internet Law Disclaimer

The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.

FILED: 4/26/2010

This case obviously involves both trade secret misappropriation issues and copyright infringement. It’s unfortunately common for web developers to “borrow” content from websites, and most often this just results in the service of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice or a cease and desist demand letter that results in the content being removed from the web. However, when there is more than simply copying, and there are competitive aspects to the infringement, it is much more likely that a business’s first notice might come by service of a federal lawsuit. It’s a good time to check the contract with your web developers and make sure that when you order customized creative works you aren’t getting cut and paste copies of websites already existing on the web.

Any Test Franchising, Inc. owns and sells the franchise rights to an array of laboratory tests distributed through retail locations. Lab Test Depot, LLC, the Defendant in this case, has allegedly copied much of the content from the Plaintiff’s website. The principals of the Defendant allegedly attended a “discovery day” put on by the Plaintiff and signed an extensive non-disclosure agreement but the Defendant did not enter into a franchise agreement with the Plaintiff.

Defendant is accused of misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential and proprietary business information, federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, federal trademark dilution, federal copyright infringement, trademark infringement under Florida common law, and unfair competition under Florida common law. The Prayer for Relief includes requests for temporary, interlocutory, and permanent injunctive relief, general and compensatory damages, actual damages, incidental, special, consequential, and exemplary damages, damages for the unjust enrichment caused by Defendant’s misappropriation and infringement, attorneys’ fees and costs, and such other relief the Court deems just and proper. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1418.

FILED: 4/07/2010

This is another form of an “attack” or “sucks” site. By not targeting a company directly, but instead appearing to present a “corrupt” organization clearing house, this type of attack can be even more successful in influencing public opinion about a business. The doctrine of “fair use” allows a certain amount of copying in the context of publishing commentary about the content. The issue in this case will be whether the copying of content was appropriate, necessary and reasonable in order to criticize the content or the organization.

What does free speech allow one to do online? Oftentimes intellectual property laws clash with the free speech doctrine. If false information is being published about your business, then you may have a defamation claim. If clear statements of opinion are being published that are disparaging, oftentimes businesses will turn to either trademark, copyright, or trade secret law to attack the problem.

The Plaintiff is a Nevada limited-liability company apparently involved in a political disagreement with the Defendant, a non-profit corporation with its principle place of business in Washington, D.C. The Defendant organization allegedly maintains a website at which, at least in part, targets the Plaintiff organization. Plaintiff alleges that the CREW website contains extensive copyright protected materials owned exclusively by the Plaintiff.

Righthaven alleges copyright infringement and requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, for Defendant to provide Plaintiff with electronic or hard copies of all evidence and documentation of the work, contact information for any person CREW has communicated with regarding the work, financial evidence related to the work, transfer of domains to Righthaven, statutory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and any further relief the Court deems appropriate. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1422.