Opportunity Knocks, Inc. d/b/a Cartoonmaps.com makes cartoon maps. Beginning in 2006, Brandon and Bridgette Maxwell paid over $35,000 for Opportunity Knocks to help them create graphical city maps for Cheyenne, Wyoming, Crested Butte, Colorado and Telluride, Colorado. Bridgette Maxwell quit her job to focus on the graphic map business. In 2008, Opportunity Knocks found that the Maxwells were distributing copies of two of the maps in violation of a Design/Printing Agreement and sued them for copyright infringement. The Maxwells counterclaimed that Bridgette Maxwell was the owner of the copyright in the maps and that Opportunity Knocks forged her signature on the Design/Printing Agreement. Bridgette Maxwell said that she was told she would own the right to the artwork and the maps. The Design/Printing Agreement said to the contrary “All material, artwork, caricatures, and design shall be the property of Opportunity Knocks, Inc. and are protected by Federal copyright protections.”
The opinion is on a Motion to Dismiss the Maxwell counts for criminal forgery and common law unfair competition. The criminal forgery and deception count was sufficiently pleaded, but the unfair competition claim was preempted by copyright.
What’s puzzling to me is the $35,000. The Maxwells allege that Opportunity Knocks is contacting “former customers and hold[ing] themselves out to be the original map makers of the maps for renewal purposes.” From the facts in the opinion, it sounds like the Maxwells paid $35K to develop a territory that Opportunity Knocks is now trying to claim as its own. $35,000 seems like an awful lot of money for the right to sell maps in three small towns for a couple of years at best.
Opportunity Knocks complaint here.
Maxwell counterclaim here.
Opportunity Knocks, Inc. d/b/a Cartoonmaps.com v. Maxwell, Civ. No. 4:08-cv-00072-AS-APR, 2009 WL 1449019 (N.D. Ind. May 22, 2009).
© 2009 Pamela Chestek