Posts Tagged ‘copyright’

Brief Plagiarism Suit Could Inspire Copycat Claims Against Attorneys

September 25th, 2016 Alexander No comments

Newegg Inc. claimed that Ezra Sutton, a New Jersey IP attorney, violated its copyright in an opening appeals brief filed in the Federal Circuit in September 2014.

Newegg was a defendant in a patent case along with Sutton’s client, Sakar International Inc., and the parties had discussed their respective strategies as a filing deadline approached.

After Sutton declined to join Newegg’s brief, Newegg shared a draft with Sutton in order to help him prepare. But a day before the deadline, and before Newegg filed its final version, Sutton filed his own brief, which was nearly identical to Newegg’s draft, including drafting errors. Newegg registered a copyright on the brief and filed suit.

Although this case may seem like an anomaly, experts say that hurling accusations of copied briefs and plagiarism at fellow lawyers may be a new weapon for vexatious attorneys.

U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter ruled that Sutton failed to establish a prima facie case that the copying constituted fair use. Further, “Given that Sutton copied most, if not all, of the substantive portions of the draft brief, and that Sutton’s use of the draft brief was not transformative, this factor weighs heavily in favor of Newegg,” the judge said.

While ethics bodies give wide leeway to “borrowing” legal writings, experts said this litigation could inspire other lawyers to register copyrights on their work.

“That is something that concerns me about this, and I think it would be a terrible use of judicial time to have to try to figure out who really wrote what in a brief, and a waste of lawyers’ time,” said one expert.

“A competent lawyer can say, ‘Here’s a perfectly good brief that gets us into court, gets our case started, so let’s use it,’ and that’s just being efficient,” he continued.

However, another expert focused on whether the lawyer who plagiarized had overbilled the client for underlying research, had tried to mislead the judge with overlapping arguments or filings, or failed to diligently represent the client.

Unless there is a serious breach, lawyers typically aren’t hit with disciplinary actions, because legal documents are rarely expected to be fully “original” works. Judges themselves often cut and paste extensively from previous decisions or from previous filings in the same matter.

“Lawyers have always lifted from briefs, but there has to be a line somewhere between a few paragraphs and a wholesale lifting of a brief,” another expert said.

For more information, see Law360.

Urban Outfitters Wants Firm Sanctioned For Duplicate Suit

February 5th, 2015 Alexander No comments

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.

Is China serious about cutting down internet piracy?

July 24th, 2010 Alexander No comments

This year, China announced its goal of combating Internet piracy and designated a task force, code named “Sword Net Action,” to battle cyber pirates through October 2010. Sword Net Action targets the source of piracy to reduce Internet infringement activities.  Internet and digital copyright industries are expected to provide solid copyright protection and development environments.

China’s National Copyright Administration, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced today that “Sword Net Action” will be divided into four stages. Sword Net Action targets the types of works,( i.e, audio and video, literature, games, animation, software, etc.), types of sites (i.e, online sales platform) and provides search, online storage, and other technical services. Phone media networks will also be focused upon.

Mainland officials state that “Sword Net Action” will achieve five goals, including the establishment of (1) “first authorized after the dissemination of” spread the work order, (2) creation of a network industry (an important foundation for sustainable development and copyright newspapers), (3) termination of piracy websites relating to the rapid spread of Internet infringement and piracy activities, (4) promotion of human rights, and (5) use of balanced development and healthy activities.

Mainland officials also seek to establish a copyright enforcement system which promotes the drafting of “network copyright enforcement guidance” and raises the standard for Internet copyright enforcement, science, and effectiveness.

Is China serious about cutting down internet piracy? I will update you all as results come in!