Legal Memorandum: Remedies for Infringement


Area of Law: Intellectual Property Law
Keywords: Copyright infringement; Infringement of a patent; Trademark infringement
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 263 F.3d 359; 365 F.3d 1299; 412 F.3d 373; 390 F.3d 158; 188 F. Supp. 2d 398
Cited Statutes: 17 U.S.C. § 411, §§ 502, 504, § 504(c)(1), § 504(c)(2), § 505, § 412; 35 U.S.C. § 281, § 271, 284, 285; 15 U.S.C. § 1116 (2006), 1117, 1125(d), 1117(a), 1117(d)
Date: 07/01/2006

An action for copyright infringement is available only if the copyright has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.  17 U.S.C. § 411.  To establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must prove:  “(1) ownership of a valid copyright and (2) copying of protectable expression by the defendant.”  Parker v. Google, Inc., 422 F. Supp. 2d 492, 496 (E.D. Pa. 2006).  In addition, the plaintiff must demonstrate volitional infringement to establish direct copyright infringement.  Id. 

After proving a substantial similarity between the protected and the infringing work, a copyright owner may obtain an injunction and actual damages, including the infringer’s profits. Id. §§ 502, 504.  In lieu of actual damages, the copyright holder may elect at any time before judgment an award of statutory damages not to exceed $30,000.  Id. § 504(c)(1).  If the copyright holder proves that the infringement was committed willfully, the court may increase the amount of statutory damages to $150,000.  Id. § 504(c)(2).  Finally, the prevailing party in an infringement action may be awarded the costs of the action and reasonable attorneys’ fees.  Id. § 505.

Statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, however, may not be awarded if the infringement relates to a copyright of an unpublished work before the date of registration.  Id. § 412; but see Getaped.com, Inc. v. Cangemi, 188 F. Supp. 2d 398, 402 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (“when a webpage goes live on the Internet, it is distributed and ‘published.'”).

“A patentee shall have a remedy by civil action for the infringement […]

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