SW Legal studies in Business

Copyright Must Be Registered Before Infringement Takes Place or No Damages
Description Appeals court held that under the Copyright Act, copyrighted material must be registered for there to be a claim for damages. If infringement begins before the copyright is registered, while the copyright may be valid, there are no damages for the infringement.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Copyright; Registration; Logo; Infringement; Damages
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bouchat sued the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team, contending the team copied his drawing that he submitted in a contest to pick a logo for the Ravens. A jury held that the Ravens had infringed Bouchatís copyright on the logo but no damages were awarded. Bouchat then sued several hundred companies that used the infringing logo when they marketed Ravens merchandise containing the logo under a license granted by the Ravens. In that case, the trial court held that the licensees had infringed Bouchatís copyright but denied damages. Bouchat appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The claims Bouchat raised in the suit against the licensees come under the previous ruling. Since he received no damages in the original suit against the Ravens, the doctrine of claim preclusion applies to further suits, such as against the licensees. Since Bouchat failed to register his copyright before infringement bega,n he cannot pursue statutory damages under the Copyright Act. Bouchat registered his copyright on July 25, 1996, but infringement began the month before. That was why he received no damages for the infringement and cannot here either.

Citation Bouchat v. Bon-Ton Department Stores, 506 F.3d 315 (4th Cir., 2007)

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