Chicks on the Right sued over unauthorized use of Topless Selfie Teacher Photo

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Here’s another copyright lawsuit that supports the argument for a copyright small claims court.

The plaintiff is a New York-based professional photographer who owns the registered copyright in a photograph of Lauren Miranda, a New York teacher fired over a topless selfie. Mrs. Miranda was subsequently awarded $3 million in a gender discrimination lawsuit over the firing.

The defendant, Chicks on the Right, an Indianapolis-based politically conservative online news radio show and website, allegedly used the plaintiff’s photograph of Mrs. Miranda in an April 2019 blog post reporting on the teacher’s gender discrimination lawsuit (note: the plaintiff filed for registration of the photograph on June 30, 2019, almost 3 months after the blog post). While the defendant might be hoping to rely on a “news reporting” fair use defense, unfortunately there’s really no “fair use” reason to use the plaintiff’s specific photograph. Numerous images of Mrs. Miranda exist that could have been used (with proper authorization), and the Chicks on the Right blog post isn’t commenting, criticizing, or reporting on the plaintiff’s actual image. Having an online “news blog” isn’t a free pass to use any photograph you find on Google Images.

The reality is that professional photographers take lots of photos for a living, and sell only few. Perhaps political differences kept this dispute from reaching a simple non-litigious monetary resolution. Now, we can expect technicalities about the actual photograph’s ownership, registration or use to be explored in the defendant’s response or discovery.

On one hand, the Chicks on the Right, who likely use photographs for news articles on a daily basis, should be in the habit of verifying the source of every photograph they post on their blog. Presumably, in this specific instance two years ago, someone just got lazy or quick and grabbed the wrong photograph off the internet.

On the other hand, there’s simply no reason a U.S. Federal Court and esteemed judges like Jane Magnus-Stinson and Debra McVicker Lynch, already overloaded with significant legal disputes, should be dealing with a copyright lawsuit over one photograph (of a person most people have never heard of) used on a single “news” blog post. Statutory damages for a single non-willful infringement would be $750, almost certainly less than the plaintiff spent on preparing and filing this lawsuit, and definitely less than the Court has to expend in processing the dispute. You can’t blame the plaintiff though; currently, they have no other alternative legal option than federal court for a photography copyright dispute. Time will tell if there’s better way to handle such disputes.

Note that the allegedly infringing image no longer appears on the defendant’s website as of the posting of this blog (11/29/21).

By the way, go do a Google search for Lauren Miranda’s attorney. Sharp dresser. So much so, I’m giving this post a “Fashion” tag.

Stay tuned for updates.

Alcorn v. COTR, LLC

File Date: November 22, 2021
Plaintiff: Victor Alcorn
Plaintiff Counsel: Craig B. Sanders, Esq.
Defendant: COTR, LLC
Cause: Direct Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Debra McVicker Lynch

Complaint:

Mid-November 2021 Indiana Intellectual Property Litigation Update

Well that month flew by! There was just one new lawsuit filed, a big battle between IU Health and Methodist Sports Medicine over use of the “Methodist” name. It was a quiet month in pending lawsuits as well, with just a few noteworthy updates. Compromise must have been in the air last month, as the status update for many pending cases is voluntary dismissal. There’s still no response from Dave Chappelle to his accuser, not that one is expected any time soon.

Noble Romans, Inc. v. Gateway Triangle Corp. et al. (SD, filed 2/5/2021) – On November 11, 2021, the “Gateway” defendants filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and response to the Noble Roman’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

Delta Faucet Company v. Iakovlev et al. (SD, filed 3/25/2021) – No update this month. 

Triple LLL Truck Repair, Inc. v. Triple LLL, Inc. et al. (ND, filed 4/26/2021) – The parties have settled and dismissal papers are due by November 19, 2021.

Energy Beverages LLC v. Full Throttle Automotive LLC (SD, filed 5/19/2021) – The lawsuit was dismissed on September 20, 2021.

Egglife Foods, Inc. v. Crepini, LLC (ND, filed 5/28/2021) – A Preliminary Pretrial Conference is scheduled for November 15, 2021.

Gatewood v. Webber Chappelle (ND, filed 6/4/2021) – No update this month.

Sears Authorized Hometown Stores, LLC v. Lynn Retails, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 6/4/2021) – A status conference was held on October 29, 2021 and a telephone status conference is schedule for February 23, 2022.

Noble Roman’s, Inc. v. AMI Stores Management, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 6/6/2021) – The parties filed a Joint Motion for a Protective Order on November 2, 2021. A final pretrial conference has been scheduled On October 12, 2023, with jury trial schedule on October 23, 2023.

Valqari LLC v. Dronedek Corporation et al. (SD, filed 6/16/2021) – A Stipulation of Dismissal was filed on October 27, 2021 and the case was dismissed the following day.

Fitzgerald et al. v. Murray et al. (SD, filed 6/18/2021) – On November 7, 2021, the Defendant Murray filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Court’s October 20, 2021 Order.

Phoenix Intangibles Holding Company et al. v. Virk Brothers, LLC et al. (ND, filed 7/9/2021) – The deadline for parties to exchange pre-discovery disclosures was extended to November 3, 2021. No other updates.

Poulsen Roser A/S v. Gardens Alive, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 7/14/2021) – No update this month.

Haehl v. Dr. Brite, LLC (SD, filed 7/21/2021) – No update this month.

AWGI, LLC et al. v. CLD Trucking Co. d/b/a Atlas Moving Systems AMS (SD, filed 7/22/2021) – The Defendant failed to appear for another telephonic hearing on November 12, 2021. No further rulings yet by the Court.

Berman v. Auralex Acoustics, Inc. (SD, filed 7/22/2021) – The lawsuit was dismissed on October 18, 2021.

RE/MAX, LLC et al. v. Dulin et al. (SD, filed 8/24/2021) – A Second Amended Complaint was filed on October 25, 2021 and the Defendants filed their Answer and Affirmative Defenses on November 10, 2021.

Bubbles Ice Cream Parlor & Pie Shoppe, Inc. v. Scoops & Sweet Bubbles, LLC (ND, filed 8/25/2021) – A Notice of Voluntary Dismissal was filed on November 5, 2021 and the lawsuit was dismissed on November 8, 2021. The Plaintiff did file an Amended Complaint on November 3, 2021, but apparently the parties settled immediately thereafter.

Forest River, Inc. v. inTech Trailers, Inc. (ND, filed 8/31/2021) – The Pretrial Conference was held on November 3, 2021. A Scheduling Order has been issued by the Court.

Thomas v. ooShirts, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 9/24/2021) – No update this month.

Edutainment Live, LLC v. Video Game Palooza et al. (SD, filed 10/11/2021) – No update yet.

Indiana University Health, Inc et al. v. Thomas A. Brady Sports Medicine Center, P.C. (SD, filed 11/1/2021) – No update yet.

October 2021 Updates

September 2021 Updates

August 2021 Updates

July 2021 Updates

June 2021 Updates

May 2021 Updates

April 2021 Updates

IU Health sues Methodist Sports Medicine to stop use of “Methodist” name

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For nearly 100 years, Methodist Hospital of Indiana has been operated by the plaintiff Methodist Health Group and its predecessors.

In 1990, the defendant in this lawsuit, Thomas A. Brady Sports Medicine Center, P.C., began operating a sports medicine clinic on the Methodist Hospital campus called “Methodist Sports Medicine.” The clinic has now expanded to several locations around Central Indiana.

In 1997, plaintiff IU Health took over operation of Methodist Hospital and gained the exclusive right to use and sublicense the METHODIST trademark.

Jump forward to 2019 and the Defendant has apparently decided to locate a sports medicine clinic on a Franciscan Alliance health care campus, a major competitor of plaintiff IU Health.

As a result, IU Health wants the Defendant to stop using “Methodist” in their name, and the Defendant has apparently refused to comply, hence this lawsuit.

If everything is as it seems in the Complaint (below), I’d expect an eventual rebrand from the Defendant, but it’s interesting that it took a lawsuit for a rebrand to occur. A new home with a new hospital group surely calls for a brand refresh/update? Especially if you’re just a sublicensee of your original name. Either way, things are rarely exactly as a Complaint makes them seem. Stay tuned for the Defendant’s side of the story.

Indiana University Health, Inc et al. v. Thomas A. Brady Sports Medicine Center, P.C.

Case Number: 1:21-cv-02760-JMS-MJD
File Date: November 1, 2021
Plaintiff: Indiana University Health, Inc., Methodist Health Group, Inc.
Plaintiff Counsel: Louis T. Perry, Elizabeth A. Charles of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Defendant: Thomas A. Brady Sports Medicine Center, P.C.
Cause: False Designation of Origin, Common Law Unfair Competition, Deception, Indiana Crime Victim’s Relief Act
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Mark J. Dinsmore

Complaint:

Mid-October 2021 Indiana Intellectual Property Litigation Update

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Fall is here! Only two (one trademark, one copyright) lawsuits were filed in Indiana in the last month, but there’s been plenty of action in the existing cases. Dave Chappelle’s “failed comedian” plaintiff has returned with Proof of Service and a Motion for Default Judgment. One plaintiff has filed a Motion for Contempt against a non-responsive defendant after continued infringement following a Default Judgment. Another trademark plaintiff faces a Motion to Dismiss their federal claims based on a lack of interstate commerce. Interesting stuff ahead, so read on and stay tuned for next month’s updates.

Noble Romans, Inc. v. Gateway Triangle Corp. et al. (SD, filed 2/5/2021) – The Defendants have been granted until November 11, 2021 to file their response to the Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

Watch Communications v. Jarman et al. (SD, filed 3/8/2021) – The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on October 12, 2021.

Delta Faucet Company v. Iakovlev et al. (SD, filed 3/25/2021) – No update this month.

ABI Attachments, Inc. v. Kiser Arena Specialists, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 4/12/2021) – This lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on October 6, 2021 via a joint motion.

Triple LLL Truck Repair, Inc. v. Triple LLL, Inc. et al. (ND, filed 4/26/2021) – No update this month.

Energy Beverages LLC v. Full Throttle Automotive LLC (SD, filed 5/19/2021) – A Stipulation of Dismissal was filed on September 8, 2021 and simply awaits formal dismissal by the Court. 

Egglife Foods, Inc. v. Crepini, LLC (ND, filed 5/28/2021) – The Defendant’s Answer was filed on October 12, 2021.

Gatewood v. Webber Chappelle (ND, filed 6/4/2021) – This case looked set for a dismissal based on failure to serve process but the Plaintiff filed a Proof of Service on September 28, 2021 and filed a Motion for Default Judgment on October 5, 2021. We now at least have a better idea what the “joke” was that Dave Chappelle allegedly “stole”…it’s at minute mark 21:23 until 22:15 in Chappelle’s “Heart of Texas” comedy special. The original Complaint said the stolen joke was “exactly one minute” so there is some discrepancy between the Plaintiff’s documents.

Sears Authorized Hometown Stores, LLC v. Lynn Retails, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 6/4/2021) – No update this month.

Noble Roman’s, Inc. v. AMI Stores Management, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 6/6/2021) – No update this month.

Valqari LLC v. Dronedek Corporation et al. (SD, filed 6/16/2021) – The parties have reported settlement. The Court has worded the Plaintiff to file dismissal documents by October 29, 2021.

Fitzgerald et al. v. Murray et al. (SD, filed 6/18/2021) – The Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel Discovery Responses on September 17, 2021 and the Defendant Murray filed a Motion to Strike the following day. A default judgment was entered against the Defendant Beacon Books on October 1, 2021 for failure to respond. A Reply for the Motion to Compel was filed by Plaintiff on October 4, 2021 and the Defendants filed their Answer to Interrogatories on October 4, 2021.

Phoenix Intangibles Holding Company et al. v. Virk Brothers, LLC et al. (ND, filed 7/9/2021) – No update this month.

Poulsen Roser A/S v. Gardens Alive, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 7/14/2021) – The parties have a telephone status conference set for November 15, 2021.

Haehl v. Dr. Brite, LLC (SD, filed 7/21/2021) – The Defendant filed an Answer on September 28, 2021. Defense counsel is John R. Terpstra and Anna Mandula of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.

AWGI, LLC et al. v. CLD Trucking Co. d/b/a Atlas Moving Systems AMS (SD, filed 7/22/2021) – The Defendant failed to appear for a telephonic default judgment hearing on September 28, 2021 and judgment was entered for the Plaintiff. The default judgment apparently did not deter the Defendant from continuing its infringing activities, and a Motion for Contempt was filed by the Plaintiff on October 13, 2021.

Berman v. Auralex Acoustics, Inc. (SD, filed 7/22/2021) – Despite a purported settlement, dismissal documents were not filed by the Court’s deadline of October 8, 2021.

RE/MAX, LLC et al. v. Dulin et al. (SD, filed 8/24/2021) – An Amended Complaint was filed on September 16, 2021. No other updates.

Bubbles Ice Cream Parlor & Pie Shoppe, Inc. v. Scoops & Sweet Bubbles, LLC (ND, filed 8/25/2021) – The Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim (based on lack of interstate commerce) and lack of supplemental jurisdiction.

Forest River, Inc. v. inTech Trailers, Inc. (ND, filed 8/31/2021) – An Answer was filed on September 21, 2021 and the following Amended Answer was filed on October 12, 2021. A Pretrial Conference is scheduled for November 3, 2021 before the Court. (Could this signal an end to almost two years of telephonic court conferences?)

Thomas v. ooShirts, Inc. et al. (SD, filed 9/24/2021) – No update yet.

Edutainment Live, LLC v. Video Game Palooza et al. (SD, filed 10/11/2021) – No update yet.

September 2021 Updates

August 2021 Updates

July 2021 Updates

June 2021 Updates

May 2021 Updates

April 2021 Updates

Trademark Infringement Lawsuit filed over Branded IT Training Videos

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This is one of those trademark lawsuits that really isn’t about the trademarks. The subject matter is IT training videos, which you’d more typically find as the subject of a copyright lawsuit. As you’ll see, savvy branding of those videos has allowed the Plaintiff to bring this as a trademark lawsuit, with all the accompanying trademark remedies and none of the formal requirements of a copyright lawsuit.

The Plaintiff, ITPro.TV, makes IT training videos. Importantly, the training videos display the Plaintiff’s logo in the bottom left of the screen.

The Defendants, Hope Training Academy and their individual owners, operate a computer-based training academy in Carmel, Indiana that offers various computer certifications to underemployed adults. Allegedly, the Defendants have been showing Plaintiff’s branded training videos without authorization and, to add injury to insult, they also insert their own “Hope Training Academy” logo on the bottom right of the video.

The parties were engaged in seemingly fruitful settlement negotiations as late as August 2021, with the Defendants offering to make a nominal payment of $29.99 per infringing end user, an unacceptably low fee by the Plaintiff’s calculations. The Defendants also represented that they are no longer using the Plaintiff’s videos but those assertions have not been independently verified by the Plaintiff. Presumably the Plaintiff’s patience with the negotiations simply ran out and they now seek the wisdom (and coercive power) of the Court.

Stay tuned for updates.

Edutainment Live, LLC v. Video Game Palooza et al

Case Number: 1:21-cv-02611-JMS-DML
File Date: Monday, October 11, 2021
Plaintiff: Edutainment Live, LLC d/b/a ITPRo. TV
Plaintiff Counsel: Donald E. Lake III of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP
Defendant: Video Game Palooza d/b/a Hope Training Academy, Richard Barretto, Cara Barretto
Cause: Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Unfair Competition, Common Law Unfair Competition
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson
Referred To: Debra McVicker Lynch

Complaint: