B. Attorneys' Fees
Turning to the motion for an award of attorney's fees, costs and disbursements in this matter, the Copyright Act of 1976 provides in relevant part that in any copyright infringement case, the "the court may...award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs." 17 U.S.C. § 505. Pursuant to this act, attorneys' fees may be granted equally to defendants and plaintiffs alike. Fogerty v. Fantasy, 510 U.S. 517, 127 L. Ed. 2d 455, 114 S. Ct. 1023 (1994). Attorney's fees shall only be awarded to the prevailing party, however, as a matter of the Court's equitable discretion. See id. at 534. In deciding upon an award, the trial court considers several factors including "frivolousness, motivation, objective unreasonableness (both in the factual and in the legal components of the case) and the need in particular circumstances to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence." Fogerty, 510 U.S. at 534 n. 19.
Here, upon a review of these considerations, I find that attorneys' fees should not be awarded. There is no showing that plaintiff was motivated by bad faith or commenced its action frivolously. Moreover, its claims were not objectively unreasonable in the factual or legal sense. The determination of the first issue I addressed in this case -- whether or not a date was required on the plaintiff's Copyright notice -- involved a determination of whether or not fabric was a "useful article," which, while I rejected plaintiff's argument that fabric was a "useful object", was not objectively unreasonable. The second issue I addressed -- whether the plaintiff owned the copyright -- involved whether or not a freelance assistant who designed the copyrighted pattern was an employee of plaintiff. While I rejected the plaintiff's argument on this ground as well, it again was not objectively unreasonable. Accordingly, defendant's motion to clarify the Order and Judgment in this case insofar as it seeks an award of attorneys' fees is denied.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to clarify the Opinion and Order dated July 2, 1997 and the Judgment dated July 7, 1997 is granted in part and denied in part as follows. The Order and Judgment should be amended to provide that defendant Fashion Initiatives' motion for summary judgment on its First and Second Counterclaims, declaring that plaintiffs' copyright is invalid and ordering the Register of Copyrights to cancel plaintiff's Copyright Registration No. 174-563 entered in this action, is granted and that defendant Fashion Initiatives' Third, Fourth and Fifth Counterclaims are dismissed on the ground that this Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over them pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Defendant Fashion Initiatives' motion for attorneys' fees is denied.
New York, New York
March 13, 1998
Harold Baer Jr.
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