Tag Archives: copyright misuse

copyright misuse in the 8th Circuit

Out of the thickets of antitrust doctrine (“Noerr-Pennington”, anyone?) comes a District Court decision concluding that “‘misuse of copyright’ is a viable defense to a copyright infringement action”, and concluding similarly to the unclean hands defense. Hitherto the 8th Circuit had punted on copyright misuse, finding it not applicable in the particular cases it reviewed, while declining to state whether the defense was theoretically available or not. I expect the plaintiff (a racing association claiming infringement of its rules) will appeal.

* Int’l Motor Contest Assn, Inc. v. Staley, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2006 WL 1667889 (D. Iowa 2006 June 19). (Mark W. Bennett, J.)

* Bill Patry’s analysis (7/5)

info cases



  • Compaq v. Ergonome, 5th Cir., 10/5. The 5th Circuit affirmed a $2.7 million award of attorney’s fees to the alleged infringer.

    On July 11, 2001, after a seven-day trial, the jury concluded that any copying by Compaq was de minimis and constituted fair use according to 17 U.S.C. &sec; 107. The district court subsequently held that the doctrines of laches and equitable estoppel also barred Ergonome’s claim. Based on these findings, the district court awarded Compaq its attorneys’ fees of $2.7 million.

    The 5th Circuit reviewed only the fair use finding, which it affirmed. In combination with Diebold‘s DMCA 512(f) slap at silly claims, the backlash against copyright misusers’ seems to be going full speed ahead.