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 Finding No “Actual Controversy”

In an April 21, 2014 ruling, Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed the plaintiff’s declaratory judgment action seeking ownership of the copyright in certain computer code, finding that there is no “‘case or controversy’ for the purposes of Article III of the United States Constitution.” The Court first found that there is subject matter jurisdiction because the “Complaint appears to reflect a dispute between the parties over whether and, if so, how the ‘work for hire’ doctrine applies.” Judge Caproni nevertheless dismissed the case because there was no “actual controversy” between the parties, finding that regardless “of this lawsuit, [the plaintiff] can exercise ownership rights unencumbered by [the defendant] and without fear of legal action for anything other than delivery of allegedly non-conforming goods – a suit that has already been filed in New York state court.” The Court also denied an award of attorneys’ fees to the defendant, finding that “both parties bear the blame” for litigating the case.
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