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

Court Denies Application for Attorneys’ Fees after Voluntary Dismissal of Copyright Action

In an August 17, 2015 ruling, Judge John F. Keenan denied attorneys’ fees to the defendant after the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed a copyright infringement action without prejudice. Judge Duffy, acting in Judge Keenan’s absence, had previously denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Since the defendant had moved to dismiss, but had not answered, the plaintiff retained the right to unilaterally discontinue the action, and did so. The Court ruled that the defendant was not the prevailing party, and thus not entitled to a fee award, because the plaintiff’s unilateral voluntary dismissal without prejudice “is not ‘judicially sanctioned’ since no court action is required.” Judge Keenan also found that “a dismissal without prejudice is not a change in the legal relationship between the parties because plaintiff can still bring the claim again.” Without reaching the merits of the defendant’s application for fees, the Court did note, though, that the application was untimely, and could have been denied on that ground as well.
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