If you read my previous blog, not only are you probably one step closer to earning your law degree, but you now know that “Team Mash-up” (tribbles-creator DAVID GERROLD, artist TY TEMPLETON, and ComicMix head-honcho GLENN HAUMAN) have petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to review the ongoing infringement lawsuit originally filed against them in 2017 by DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE).
For more background on the case, read this update from last month. In short, the judge in the case, Hon. JANIS SAMMARTINO, ruled in 2018 that Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! qualified as fair use and was therefore protected speech under the Copyright Act of 1976…and dismissed all of the infringement complaints from DSE. Not surprisingly, DSE appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court, and a three-judge appellate panel reversed Sammartino’s decision, ruling instead that Boldly was NOT fair use and remanding the reinstated lawsuit back to the lower court for reconsideration.
For the moment, we’re going to skip the whole petition to the Supreme Court part (which I covered yesterday) and focus solely on what is now happening back in Judge Saamartino’s courtroom…virtually, of course, as most California courtrooms are still operating via Zoom calls. Almost as soon as the appeals ruling came down, both the plaintiff and the defendant prepared new motions for Judge Sammartino (a motion is when one party or the other asks a judge to make a ruling), motions that were filed at the beginning of last month. Again, read my update for a deeper dive into what each party is asking the judge to rule on.
When a motion is filed in writing with a judge , the other side has 15 days to respond in writing with an opposition to that motion, usually arguing why the first party is wrong. Then, after the opposition is filed, the first party gets two weeks to file a reply and explain why they are not wrong and the judge should grant their motion.
In fact, this is how ComicMix “won” the lawsuit back in 2018 when they filed a motion for dismissal with Judge Sammatino, asking her to rule that Boldly was fair use and therefore protected from a charge of copyright infringement. After a year and a half of back and forth arguing, she finally agreed and dismissed the case, granting the defendant’s motion. But on appeal, her ruling was reversed, and now the case is back on her desk…only this time with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Boldly is NOT fair use.
Armed with that shiny new appellate decision, DSE immediately made a motion for summary judgment: skip the trial, Judge, ’cause we obviously just won…and give us our money now. But ComicMix also filed a motion based on their belief that copyright registrations for two of the Dr. Seuss books that they allegedly infringed were never properly filed back in the 1960s and have since expired. If so, that’s a bombshell.
Let’s take a look now at each motion, and how the other side is arguing against it…Continue reading “Meanwhile, the “STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS” infringement lawsuit moves forward in district court…”