Stross v. Louis C. Allegrone, Inc. (19-cv-12037).

Photographer Alexander Stross accuses Lenox, Massachusetts construction company Allegrone of using one of his photographs extensively on its website, and of removing copyright management information in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The case was immediately transferred to the Western Division.

Broadcast Music, Inc. et al. v. Stavas Inc. d/b/a Black Sheep Tavern et al. (19-cv-40116).

Music licensing entity BMI sued Sterling, MA’s Black Sheep Tavern in the Worcester Division of the District of Massachusetts, accusing Black Sheep of infringing a number of music copyrights though live and DJ performances that take place at the Tavern. BMI asserts that it contacted Black Sheep Tavern over 80 times seeking to have the Tavern take a license prior to filing suit. BMI seeks statutory damages and attorneys’ fees as well as injunctive relief.

Chatham v. Canterbury Ventures, LLC (17-cv-11473).

Ex-Patriot Matt Chatham and his wife sued their former builder Daniel Lewis and his company, Canterbury Ventures in 2017, accusing Lewis of seeking to sell a house built using Chatham’s copyrighted custom architectural plans to a third party after failing to complete construction for the Chathams and then unilaterally terminating their agreement. Prior to the close of discovery, the Defendants moved for summary judgment on the copyright, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims, and further that specific performance was not available. The motion was argued before Magistrate Judge Cabell, who yesterday recommended denial the Defendants’ motion in its entirety. Defendants had argued that the copyright claim should fail because Chatham never reserved his copyrights when giving the plans to Lewis, and therefore could no longer claim copyright protection. Judge Cabell, noting that copyright vests at the time of creation, found this argument to have no legal consequences, because silence does not affect the validity of an existing copyright. He found that the First Sale Doctrine does not apply, because while the Chathams may have provided a copy of the plans and authorized the use to build the Chatham’s home, they did not sell the copyrighted article. Finally he determined that, while the Chathams’ Purchase and Sale Agreement licensed Canterbury to use the plans to construct the house, there was a factual dispute as to whether the scope of the license permitted construction of the house for sale to anyone other than the Chathams. On the contract issue, Judge Cabell determined that there was a factual dispute as to whether the P&S Agreement terminated as of the last closing date identified in the Agreement or whether there was an oral agreement to extend the Agreement to allow the home to be completed and sold to the Chathams. He noted that correspondence from counsel for the Defendants following the purported termination stating that “Canterbury continues to perform construction on the Property in good faith and in accordance with the P&S” and the fact that Canterbury continued working on the house in consultation with the Chathams following the purported termination date provided “strong if not dispositive evidence” that the parties had agreed to extend. Finally, he denied the motion with respect to the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and specific performance as they were reliant on success in the copyright and contract parts of the motion.

I and others at my firm, along with Paul Mordarski and Jordan Carroll of Morrissey, Hawkins & Lynch, represent the Chathams in this matter, and naturally, we are quite pleased with the result.

Graphisoft SE et al. v. Andr Roy Engineers Group et al. (19-cv-11789).

Hungarian company Graphisoft, along with its Waltham division, filed suit against Andr Roy Engineers Group, accusing it of infringing the copyright in Graphisoft’s ARCHICAD®584 and ARCHICAD®248 building information modeling software. Graphisoft embedded piracy detection and reporting security software in its ACHICAD code, so that it would be informed when the verification technology is hacked or bypassed. They assert that this software has indicated that Andr Roy is using unlicensed ARCHICAD software. Graphisoft says that Andr Roy never responded to cease and desist letters beyond a simple denial.  Judge Talwani has the case.

Howarth v. Mitchell Construction Group, Inc. (19-cv-11815).

Photographer Morgan Howarth specializes in interior architectural photography. Howarth accuses Mitchell Construction Group of copying a Howarth photograph of a kitchen cabinet and using it without license on Mitchell’s website. Specifically, the photograph is alleged to be included in Mitchell’s “5 Amazing Kitchen Cabinet Storage Options You Need To See!” on Mitchell’s blog.  Howarth seeks injunctive relief, actual or statutory damages, and attorneys fees. The case is before Judge Saylor.

PMG Resources LLC v. Martinez et al. (19-cv-11771).

Colorado-based PMG sells aftermarket auto parts online. It publishes copyrighted advertising listings in electronic format on Amazon, eBay, and others in connection with this. PMG accuses Texas individuals Jose Martinez Ramos and Noemi Martinez, who are alleged to do business as Customz Liners, of copying verbatim its listings on competing Amazon and eBay sites. PMG identifies a number of its listings that were put up in November 2017 and were alleged to be copied in whole or in large part by the defendants.  PMG seeks actual or statutory damages and injunctive relief.

Tyger Manufacturing LLC v. Jacobs (19-cv-11732).

Tyger manufacturing sued Timothy Jacobs, who is said to do business as The Glass Blunt Store or G.B.S., accusing Jacobs of infringing Tyger’s copyright in “loading instructions” for glass smoking products having a screw-like insert that allows for the removal of spent ash. Tyger asserts that the instructions are included with four different G.B.S. products and are found throughout the G.B.S. website, and seeks injunctive relief and an accounting of sales of the four products. It is unclear why Tyger, a California company, sued Jacobs, who is alleged to have a principal place of business in Denver, in Massachusetts; personal jurisdiction and venue are alleged solely on alleged sales of products into the Commonwealth. Tyger is represented in the case by Massachusetts counsel, but has filed lawsuits over the past several years in a number of different jurisdictions, and appears to have already sued Jacobs in his home state of Colorado in 2018, accusing him of infringing design and utility patents relating to glass smoking devices. In October 2018, that complaint was amended to bring copyright infringement counts, although it appears that while an application had been filed, the copyright registration had not yet issued as of the amended complaint. That case subsequently settled.