Another Richard Bell Copyright Suit

Richard Bell is suing another website for allegedly using an unauthorized copy of his photograph of downtown Indianapolis. In a previous ruling against Mr. Bell (more here), the court was less than pleased with shortcomings in his complaint:

While providing specific facts is not necessary in a complaint, Mr. Bell is required to do more than recite legal conclusions of conduct with generic applicability to various defendants. . . . Legal conclusions are not afforded the assumption of truth. . . . [T]he Court will not afford the assumption of truth to the legal conclusions in Mr. Bell’s complaint. Neither does the Court find any factual allegations that are not legal conclusions, which could entitle him to relief and satisfy the standard of review.

Bell v. McCann, No. 1:13-CV-00799-TWP, 2014 WL 900961, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 7, 2014)

Mr. Bell did offer more than legal conclusions in this most recent Complaint (see below) by adding a factual allegation. And although he needed to allege “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,” Mr. Bell decided to unnecessarily add proof of these alleged facts. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). He included a link to a screenshot of the alleged infringement, although the link just resolves to a blank page.

In any case, don’t use pictures you find on the internet without authorization. Just don’t.

Richard N. Bell v. Proact Search LLC

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-01005-JMS-DKL
File Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015
Plaintiff: Richard N. Bell
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard N. Bell of Bell Law Firm
Defendant: Proact Search LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue

Indiana Copyright Litigation Update – Bell v. Find Tickets

Richard Bell is once again alleging copyright infringement for unauthorized use of a photograph of the downtown Indianapolis skyline. This complaint is nearly identical to complaints he has previously filed. In some of those cases, the court has awarded Mr. Bell statutory damages of $2,500. However, the ruling in each of those cases was a default judgment because the defendants failed to answer and defend the allegations. On multiple occasions the court has granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. District Judge Tanya Pratt has, on multiple occasions, called out Mr. Bell for improper practice:

In his pleadings, Mr. Bell has alleged, but has not shown, that he is entitled to relief. His complaint contains formulaic labels and conclusions, but not facts. For example, the complaint under his copyright claim generically alleges that all-originally, twenty-two in total-Defendants: downloaded the Indianapolis Photo; willfully, recklessly, and falsely claimed that it owned the copyright to the photograph; published the photograph for commercial use; engaged in unfair trade practices and competition; and willfully engaged in these acts with oppression, fraud, and malice. . . . While providing specific facts is not necessary in a complaint, Mr. Bell is required to do more than recite legal conclusions of conduct with generic applicability to various defendants. . . . Legal conclusions are not afforded the assumption of truth. . . . [T]he Court will not afford the assumption of truth to the legal conclusions in Mr. Bell’s complaint. Neither does the Court find any factual allegations that are not legal conclusions, which could entitle him to relief and satisfy the standard of review.

Bell v. McCann, No. 1:13-CV-00799-TWP, 2014 WL 900961, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 7, 2014)

When looking to Mr. Bell’s motivation for filing this action, the Court finds that Mr. Bell’s motivation is questionable. Mr. Bell has filed a multiplicity of suits in this Court, each involving the same or similar infringement allegations. In many of these copyright infringement suits, Mr. Bell has improperly joined several defendants, thereby saving him extensive filing fees. In this case alone, Mr. Bell sued forty-seven defendants and then quickly offered settlements to defendants who were unwilling to pay for a legal defense. In some of Mr. Bell’s lawsuits, the district court determined that the improperly joined defendants should be severed, and severance was granted. Further, in this case, Mr. Bell lacked any evidentiary support for his claims against Mr. Lantz. The Court is persuaded by Mr. Lantz’s argument that the motivation of Mr. Bell in filing this action appears to be an attempt to extract quick, small settlements from many defendants instead of using the judicial process to protect his copyright against legitimate infringing actors. . . . In this case, Mr. Lantz took a stand against a plaintiff who was using his knowledge and status as a practicing attorney to file meritless suits and to attempt to outmaneuver the legal system.

Bell v. Lantz, No. 1:13-CV-00035-TWP, 2015 WL 3604174, at *2 & *3 (S.D. Ind. June 8, 2015)

After a cursory search, it appears that Mr. Bell has been awarded statutory damages of $40,000 ($2,500 x 16) from default judgments. In Bell v. Lantz, quoted above, Mr. Bell had to pay Mr. Lantz’s attorney’s fees, totaling $33,974.65.

Richard N. Bell v. Find Tickets, LLC

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00973-JMS-MJD
File Date: Friday, June 19, 2015
Plaintiff: Richard N. Bell
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard N. Bell of Bell Law Firm
Defendant: Find Tickets, LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore

Indiana Copyright Litigation Update: Baals LLC v. Pro Service Cleaning FW LLC

Baals LLC organizes the Baals Music Festival, a Fort Wayne event occurring annually since 2012. Baals (named for former mayor, Harry Baals) alleges that the defendants, Electric Promotions and Desiar, started organizing similar events in Fort Wayne after seeing the success of the Baals Music Festival. Baals claims that the defendants are using promotional materials that bear striking resemblance to Baals’. They further claim that the defendants are using promotional photographs and videos owned by Baals despite multiple requests to cease.

Baals LLC v. Pro Service Cleaning FW LLC et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00148-JVB-SLC
File Date: Monday, June 15, 2015
Plaintiff: Baals LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Daniel D. Bobilya, Brandon J. Almas of Bonahoom & Bobilya LLC
Defendant: Pro Service Cleaning FW LLCDesiar Eyewear LLC
Cause: Unfair Competition, False Designation of Origin, Copyright Infringement, Unjust Enrichment
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Joseph S Van Bokkelen
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Susan L Collins

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – HRHH Hotel/Casino v. Bella Vita

The Hardrock Hotel and Casino has been hosting a popular daytime party, The Rehab Pool Party, since 2004. Plaintiffs own multiple trademarks referring to daytime parties, and the Rehab name and logo. For the past few years, Bella Vita Lakeside restaurant and bar in Indianapolis has hosted weekly pool parties called “Rehab+ Sundays.” Plaintiffs allege that Defendant’s party logo is confusingly similar to Plaintiffs’ owned trademarks. In fact, a local blog claimed “Bella Vita borrowed the “Rehab” theme from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.” Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have refused to cease their infringing use and intend to continue to organize and host the “Rehab+ Sundays” pool parties in the Summer of 2015.

HRHH Hotel/Casino LLC et al v. Bella Vita LLC et al

Court Case Number: 1:15-cv-00791-WTL-MJD
File Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Plaintiff: HRHH Hotel/Casino LLC, HRHH IP, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Gregory F. Hahn, Craig E. Pinkus of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP
Defendant: Bella Vita LLC, Henri B. Najem
Cause: False Designation of Origin and Unfair Competition, Trademark Infringement, Dilution, Unfair Competition
CourtSouthern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge William T. Lawrence
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Burns Rent-Alls v. Michael Sharpe et al

Defendants have allegedly registered and used domain names confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s BURNS RENT-ALLS trademark. The subject domain names are (i) burnspartyrentall.com; (ii) burnspartyrental.com; and (iii) burnsrentall.com.

Burns Rent-Alls, Inc. v. Michael Sharpe et al

Court Case Number: 3:14-cv-01958
File Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Plaintiff: Burns Rent-Alls, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: D. Michael Anderson of Barnes & Thornburg LLP
Defendant: Michael Sharpe, Aays Rent-All Co., Inc.
Cause: Unfair Competition, Cyberpiracy, Breach of Contract
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Jon E. DeGuilio
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein

Complaint:

Indiana Copyright Litigation Update – Brinker Manufacturing Jewelers Inc. v. Rogers Galleria Jewelers

Defendants are accused of having repeatedly copied Plaintiff’s advertising marketing and branding including copying the design of Plaintiff’s showroom and jewelry boxes, interfering with Plaintiff’s exclusive vendor contracts, and copying and/or plagiarizing several of Plaintiff’s taglines and written advertisements.

Court Case Number: 3:14-cv-00134-RLY-WGH
File Date: Monday, September 29, 2014
Plaintiff: Brinker Manufacturing Jewelers Inc., South Central Communications Corporation
Plaintiff Counsel: Jean M. Blanton of Ziemer Stayman Weitzel & Shoulders LLP, Nick J. Cirignano
Defendant: Rogers Galleria Jewelers LLC, Tyna Wheat, Sharon Sartore
Cause: Copyright Infringement, Trade Dress Infringement, Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition, Deceptive Trade Practices, Conversion, Misappropriation of Advertising Ideas and Style of Doing Business, Tortious Interference with Business Relations
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Richard L. Young
Referred To: Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann, Jr.

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – KM Innovations v. LTD Commodities

Another lawsuit involving synthetic fiber snowballs, this time for the INDOOR SNOWBALL FIGHT registered trademark.

Related case: KM Innovations v. Opportunities, Inc.

KM Innovations LLC v. LTD Commodities LLC

Court Case Number: 1:14-cv-01573-LJM-DML
File Date: Friday, September 26, 2014
Plaintiff: KM Innovations LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Dean E. McConnell of McConnell Intellectual Property Law
Defendant: LTD Commodities LLC
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin, Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Larry J. McKinney
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Sensory Technologies v. LogMeIn

This trademark dispute involves Plaintiff’s JOIN® trademark and Defendant’s JOIN.ME® trademark. Both marks are registered with the USPTO and used in connection with virtual meeting/video conferencing services. The trademarks have been used concurrently since July 2010. 

Sensory Technologies LLC v. LogMeIn Inc.

Court Case Number: 1:14-cv-01406-SEB-DKL
File Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Plaintiff: Sensory Technologies LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Jonathan G. Polak, Michael Z. Gordon of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
Defendant: Logmein Inc.
Cause: Trademark Infringement, False Designation of Origin, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, Forgery, Declaratory Judgment of Trademark Invalidity, Permanent Injunctive Relief
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Sarah Evans Barker
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue

Concert Photographer Files 3 More Copyright Lawsuits over Violation of Creative Commons License

Plaintiff is a concert photographer. He posted photographs (of Willie Nelson and Chris Daughtry) to Wikimedia under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Generic license. The defendants have all allegedly used Plaintiff’s photograph(s) on their respective websites without giving proper credit to Plaintiff. Plaintiff is representing himself in these lawsuits and has filed similar complaints previously (Related Cases).

Court Case Number: 1:14-cv-01357-TWP-DML
File Date: Monday, August 18, 2014
Plaintiff: Larry G. Philpot
Plaintiff Counsel: Larry G. Philpot – Pro Se
Defendant: Mansion America, LLC, Oak Ridge Boys Theater
Cause: Copyright Infringement, Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Tanya Walton Pratt
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch

Court Case Number: 1:14-cv-01356-SEB-DML
File Date: Monday, August 18, 2014
Plaintiff: Larry G. Philpot
Plaintiff Counsel: Larry G. Philpot – Pro Se
Defendant: Bake Me A Wish, LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Sarah Evans Barker
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch

Court Case Number: 1:14-cv-01377-LJM-MJD
File Date: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Plaintiff: Larry G. Philpot
Plaintiff Counsel: Larry G. Philpot – Pro Se
Defendant: Everything Brooklyn Media LLC
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Judge Larry J. McKinney
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore

Representative Complaint

Indiana Trademark Litigation Update – Rieke Corporation v. Riekes Packaging Corporation

Since as least as early as June 2000, Plaintiff, based in Auburn, Indiana, has continuously used the RIEKE PACKAGING SYSTEMS® trademark in connection with Plaintiff’s dispensing systems and closures. Around 2012, Defendant began using the RIEKES PACKAGING CORPORATION name in connection with glass bottles, plastic bottles, plastic closures, caps, metalclosures, dispensing closures and systems. Plaintiff has brought this lawsuit seeking damages and injunctive relief.

Rieke Corporation v. Riekes Packaging Corporation

Court Case Number: 1:14-cv-00241-PPS-RBC
File Date: Thursday, August 07, 2014
Plaintiff: Rieke Corporation
Plaintiff Counsel: Kurt N. Jones of Woodard Emhardt Moriarty McNett & Henry LLP
Defendant: Riekes Packaging Corporation
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, Common Law Trademark Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Chief Judge Philip P. Simon
Referred To: Magistrate Judge Roger B. Cosbey