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

Court Again Rejects Plaintiff’s Copyright Infringement Claim as De Minimus

In an April 30, 2014 ruling, Judge Katherine B. Forrest denied the plaintiff’s motion to amend her complaint against the National Football League for a second time. The Court had earlier dismissed the first amended complaint for failing to allege commercial use of the plaintiff’s name or likeness necessary to support a Lanham Act claim and because any copyright infringement was de minimus. Judge Forrest again found the copyright infringement alleged in the second amended complaint to be de minimus, writing:
Here, [the defendant’s] site contains a great deal of substantive content and is comprised of a large number of distinct pages, many of which contain editorial content. Two of the three inclusions of plaintiff’s copyrighted material are in the context of plaintiff as a contributor – plaintiff is not pictured nor mentioned in connection with substantive editorial content. The final inclusion of plaintiff’s copyrighted content is included as a rotating thumbnail image on the site’s landing page. Here, plaintiff’s photograph is again unaffiliated with editorial content. This, combined with the fact that plaintiff’s copyrighted content was on the site for only three weeks – a short period of time in the life of a website – illustrates that the copyright violation here is de minimus.
The Court rejected the plaintiff’s Lanham Act claim, finding no allegations of any cognizable injury.
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