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

Court Dismisses Copyright Declaratory Judgment Action for Failing to Plead Plausible Claim

In a February 6, 2014 ruling, Judge P. Kevin Castel dismissed plaintiff Newlight Eyewear, LLC’s action seeking a declaration that it does not infringe defendant Art-Optic, Ltd.’s copyrights and asserting claims for Art-Optic’s interference with Newlight’s contractual relations with its customers. Both parties currently sell hand-painted eyeglass frames. Newlight had previously distributed Art-Optics’ frames. After the relationship ended, Art-Optics sued Newlight for copyright infringement, but discontinued the action after it was assured that Newlight’s sales were merely disposing of left over inventory from the distributorship relationship. In its complaint, Newlight alleges that Art-Optics is nevertheless still informing Newlight’s customers that Newlight’s products infringe its copyrights and that they should not do business with Newlight.

Judge Castel dismissed the claim to declare non-infringement of Art-Optics’ copyrights, writing that the “Complaint does not describe [Newlight’s] product line, or the differences and similarities between [Newlight’s] eyeglass frames and the” Art-Optics frames. The Court added that the Complaint “is silent as to the design of the [Newlight] product line and how the design and how the design elements compare with those of” Art-Optics, and that “Newlight has offered no examples of its products and does not allege that it has registered copyrights for any of its designs.” Judge Castel concluded that the Complaint “is so lacking in detail as to which of Newlight’s products are at issue and the design elements of those products as to fail to state a claim for relief.” The Court also dismissed Newlight’s claim to declare Art-Optics’ copyright registrations invalid, finding that Newlight did not make any “allegations that plausibly contend that defendant’s copyrights for the [Art-Optics] frames are somehow invalid and/or unenforceable.” And having dismissed the federal claims, Judge Castel declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Newlight’s common law claims, and dismissed the entire action.
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