Thursday, April 08, 2010

Three recent decisions re: architectural copyrights; a stolen domain name; and copyright/trade secret ownership in the employment context

While interesting, the following three recent decision don’t seem to warrant extended analysis, so here are the TV Guide summaries:

2d Circuit Throws Out Architectural Copyright Claim on 12(b)(6) Motion Based on Designs Appended to Complaint

Don’t plead yourself out of court. That may be the lesson of Peter F. Gaito Architecture, LLC v. Simone Dev. Corp., No. 09-2613-cv (Apr. 7, 2010). The plaintiff copyright owner alleged that a developer infringed his copyrighted plans, and attached depictions of the designs to its complaint. Assuming for purposes of argument that copying occurred, the Second Circuit compared the two designs for substantial similarity. Concluding that the depictions demonstrated that only general ideas and concepts—not protectable expression—was misappropriated, the court affirmed dismissal of the case. Of course, not attaching the depictions of the designs to the complaint would likely have only postponed the dismissal to the summary judgment stage, but it may have increased leverage for some kind of monetary settlement in the meantime.

9th Circuit Grapples with Conflict of Laws Issue in Domain Name Conversion Case

In an intensely-fact specific case involving a claim that the defendants converted the plaintiff’s domain name registration (replete with a bad guy in the PRC, an innocent purchaser for value defense, and a cameo appearance by Ralph Lauren), the 9th Circuit in CRS Recovery, Inc. v. Laxton, No. 08-17306 (Apr. 6, 2010), engaged in a lengthy discussion of the policies underlying the respective laws of Virginia and California to determine a tricky and potentially outcome-determinative choice-of-law issue.

9th Circuit Analyzes Employee/Independent Contractor Issue to Decide Who Owns Copyrights and Trade Secrets in Computer Software Source Code

In JustMed, Inc. v. Byce, No. 07-35861 (Apr. 5, 2010), the Ninth Circuit went through a lengthy, fact-intensive analysis of the often-litigated issue of whether the author of copyrightable material or creator of a trade secret was an employee or independent contractor of a company claiming that it owned the individual’s work. The case is interesting in that it seems to somewhat alter the traditional weighing of the factors relevant to that determination to fit the context of small, non-traditional, techie start up companies.

No comments: