Property, intangible

a blog about ownership of intellectual property rights and its licensing

And the Answer Is ….

The last post posed a question: who is, or are, the proper plaintiffs after the assignment of the copyright?

If you said both the artist and his company, you would be right. You would have spotted that the assignment of the copyright did not expressly assign any past infringement claims, so the claims for infringement before the assignment remained with the artist. “Copyright assignments are generally construed not to assign existing causes of action unless such causes of action are expressly included.” Nimmer on Copyright, § 12.02[B].

Indeed, both Beasley and his company were originally plaintiffs (along with Beasley’s wife). But the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment that Beasley had no claim. I trust that judicial estoppel will prevent the defendant from now arguing that the company doesn’t have standing for the earlier claim.

One twitterer also spotted a statute of limitations problem but that didn’t appear to play any role in the decision. Beasley claimed only to have learned of the 2003 infringement during discovery, which perhaps is why there wasn’t (at least in this opinion) a dismissal of the 2003 infringement based on the statute of limitations.

Beasley v. Commonwealth Ed. Co., No. 11 CV 4973 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 28, 2013).

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