Thursday, May 05, 2005

4th Circuit on proving up copyright infringer's profits

Maybe because it was the day before taxes were due, but I missed the 4th Circuit's April 14 decision in Bonner v. Dawson, No. 04-1440. In Bonner, the court held that the plaintiff must do more than simply point to the infringer's TOTAL profit stream, and then sit back. Instead, the plaintiff has the initial burden to point to a particular profit stream and prove "some causal link between the infringement and the particular profit stream" he is seeking to recoup. Slip op. at 5-6. In Bonner, the plaintiff architect satisfied the initial burden by pointing to the income the building owner derived from leases in the infringing building.

Despite satisfying his initial burden, however, the plaintiff couldn't recover because the defendant had presented adequate evidence that the rent money was the result of factors other than the copyrighted design elements. Id. at 7.

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