The 9th Circuit today highlighted the procedural ramifications of the presumption of validity afforded by § 410(c) of the Copyright Act.
In United Fabrics Int’l, Inc. v. C&J Wear, Inc., No. 09-65499 (9th Cir. Jan. 26, 2010), the district court (sua sponte) dismissed plaintiff’s copyright claims, saying that: (1) the plaintiff hadn’t produced sufficient evidence of the “chain of title” in the underlying design (which it got from an Italian firm); and (2) the plaintiff hadn’t produced evidence that the designs, which were registered as a published collection, were actually published as a collection, as required under 37 CFR 202.3(4)(b).
The 9th Circuit reversed, holding that the district court ignored the statutory presumption of validity when it required the copyright owner to prove these things without first identifying evidence to the contrary. The appeals court noted that it was the defendants’ burden to first explode the presumption by coming up with some proof to the contrary on these issues.