The named defendant in this copyright lawsuit is accused of publishing previously unpublished manuscripts of Frederick Perls, a psychiatrist who developed Gestalt therapy, an influential form of psychotherapy. The plaintiff is the Center of Gestalt Development, who claim ownership of the manuscripts.
The named defendant, an Indiana resident, successfully challenged jurisdiction and venue in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, so the lawsuit was refiled against him in Indiana. There are two other French defendants and the plaintiff is seeking to consolidate the cases in Indiana.
Stay tuned for updates.
The Center for Gestalt Development, Inc. v. Bowman
Court Case Number: 1:22-cv-02185-JMS-MG File Date: November 9, 2022 Plaintiff: The Center for Gestalt Development, Inc. Plaintiff Counsel: George A. Gasper, Brian Cavanaugh of Ice Miller LLP Defendant: Charles Bowman Cause: Copyright Infringement, Contributory Copyright Infringement, Vicarious Copyright Infringement Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson Referred To: Mario Garcia
The Defendants, a Florida husband/wife marketing team, are accused of purchasing digital artwork from Plaintiff’s Etsy site and then selling it on their own website as their own work and intellectual property. The Plaintiff is an artist from Guilford, Indiana (home of the historic Guilford Covered Bridge). In addition to Plaintiff, the Defendants are alleged to have used artwork from numerous creators without authorization.
Damages for willful copyright infringement can be severe, up to $150,000 per infringement. If the Defendants are truly serial infringers as alleged, the Court could easily decide to grant the maximum damages award. The Defendants could also be required to pay Plaintiff’s costs and attorneys’ fees, likely a hefty amount in itself.
Stay tuned for updates.
Mapes v. Top Tier Marketers LLC d/b/a Artfily et al.
Case Number: 1:22-cv-00674-JMS-DLP File Date: Monday, April 4, 2022 Plaintiff: Tara Mapes Plaintiff Counsel: Michelle L. Casper, Rachael L. Rodman of Ulmer & Berne LLP Defendant: Top Tier Marketers LLC d/b/a Artfily, Meagan Broadwater, Dean Broadwater Cause: Copyright Infringement Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson Referred To: Doris L. Pryor
The plaintiff, Carmel, Indiana-based Autoniq, provides a software solution that allows vehicle dealers to find, research, purchase and price vehicles, both online and at auction.
On January 29, 2021, Autoniq settled a prior lawsuit against the defendant, Laser Appraiser of Watkinsville, Georgia, based on trademark disputes involving deceptive online advertising. The parties signed a settlement agreement which included a $10,000 per breach liquidated damages provision for any future violations.
Apparently the defendant’s marketing department just couldn’t stand not using “Autoniq” in their online ads (along with arguably deceptive information about the plaintiff’s software), as less than a year later, in December 2021, Autoniq discovered new online advertisements by Laser Appraiser that allegedly violate the terms of the parties’ settlement agreement. As such, Autoniq has filed this lawsuit based on the new advertisements, but now backed with a $10,000 per breach liquidated damages provision.
Stay tuned for updates.
Autoniq, LLC v. Laser Appraiser, LLC
Case Number: 1:22-cv-00368-JMS-DML File Date: February 21, 2022 Plaintiff: Autoniq, LLC Plaintiff Counsel: Louis T. Perry of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Defendant: Laser Appraiser, LLC Cause: False Advertising, Breach of Contract Court: Southern District of Indiana Judge: Jane Magnus-Stinson Referred To: Debra McVicker Lynch
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
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