A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Attorneys' Fees Denied After Dismissal for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction in Copyright Infringement Case

In a June 27, 2013 ruling, Judge Ronnie Abrams denied defendant American Buddha's motion for attorneys' fees after it secured dismissal of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.'s copyright infringement claim against it for lack of personal jurisdiction. Judge Abrams first noted that the "Second Circuit has not directly addressed whether the dismissal of claims against a defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction renders it a 'prevailing party' for purposes of § 505," the provision of the Copyright Act addressing an award of attorneys' fees. The Court did not have to reach that issue, though, because Judge Abrams held that "even if Defendant is deemed a prevailing party, an award of attorney's fees is not warranted in this case." In declining to find Penguin's allegation of personal jurisdiction objectively unreasonable (so as to support an award of fees), Judge Abrams found:

The Court's Order dated March 7, 2013 dismissing Penguin's claims against American Buddha for lack of personal jurisdiction was the culmination of several years of litigation in this Court, the Second Circuit and the New York Court of Appeals.  The question of whether this Court could exercise personal jurisdiction over American Buddha was an unresolved issue at the time Penguin commenced this action and it was only after such litigation that this Court ultimately concluded that it did not have such jurisdiction.
In these circumstances, Judge Abrams ruled that "Penguin's continued effort to litigate the issue of personal jurisdiction in light of the questions of fact  and law that had to be addressed by the courts was neither frivolous nor unreasonable," and denied the motion for attorneys' fees.
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