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Urban Outfitters Wants Firm Sanctioned For Duplicate Suit

Urban Outfitters Inc. asked a California federal court to sanction Doniger Burroughs APC for allegedly filing identical suits in the same court accusing Macy’s Inc., Saks Inc. and 63 other retailers of selling a dress, made by Urban subsidiary Free People, that sports a stolen print.

Urban asked the court to toss the suit and fine the Los Angeles law firm $10,000 for bringing the November copyright litigation on behalf of Unicolors Inc. against retailers selling the Free People dress. It says the firm missed a deadline to add the customers to a lawsuit filed in February against Urban Outfitters over the same copyright.

“By filing this action, plaintiff has attempted to make an end-run around its own failure to adequately prosecute its claims in the Unicolors I action,” Urban Outfitters said, referring to the February suit as Unicolors I. “[The suit is an] improper attempt by plaintiff to simultaneously maintain two duplicate actions so that it may avoid the consequences of its own failure to timely amend and/or to conduct discovery.”

The move amounts to claim splitting, which is prohibited by federal rules of procedure. Furthermore, any determination on infringement in one case would have a preclusive effect on claims in the other.

“Prosecution of the instant action, and the corresponding need for two courtrooms to simultaneously adjudicate the exact same claims, would result in a colossal waste of judicial resources,” the retailer said.

The move is an attempt by Doniger Burroughs, which has filed approximately 160 copyright infringement cases in 2014, to needlessly extend and expand the litigation in order to increase its exposure for attorneys’ fees, the retailer said.

Scott Burroughs, lead attorney for Unicolors, thinks that Urban Outfitter’s motion is meritless and “a hollow attempt by Urban Outfitters to evade liability for infringement.”

For more information, see Law360.

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