U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
2009 U.S. App. Lexis 8540 (2009)
Material Facts of the Case:
Crown Awards is a retailer of awards and trophies sold through mail order catalogs and via the Internet. Crown designed and sold a diamond-shaped spinning trophy for which it owned two copyright registrations. Discount Trophy is one of Crown’s competitors, and it sold a trophy that was substantially similar to Crown’s Spin Trophy. Crown requested that Discount discontinue the sale of the alleged copy, and when Discount refused, Crown filed suit in the Southern District of New York. Legal and Ethical Issues of the Case:
In order to prevail on a claim of copyright infringement, a plaintiff must demonstrate both ownership of a valid copyright and infringement. "To establish infringement, the copyright owner must demonstrate that (1) the defendant has actually copied the plaintiff's work; and (2) the copying is illegal because a substantial similarity exists between the defendant's work and the protectable elements of plaintiff's." Actual copying may be proved directly or indirectly. Indirect evidence of copying includes proof that the defendants had access to the copyrighted work and similarities that are probative of copying between the works." Because direct proof of access is often impossible to adduce, the law permits a plaintiff to carry his burden on this point through evidence that "an alleged infringer had a 'reasonable possibility'" of access to the original work. Notably, “a court may infer that the alleged infringer had a reasonable possibility of access if the author sent the copyrighted work to a third party intermediary who has a close relationship with the infringer." Access through third parties connected to both a plaintiff and a defendant may be sufficient to prove a defendant's access to a plaintiff's work. If a plaintiff cannot demonstrate a reasonable possibility of access, its...