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AGA CORREA & SON v. NAUTICAL GOLD CREATIONS

United States District Court, S.D. New York


April 5, 2005.

AGA CORREA & SON, Plaintiff,
v.
NAUTICAL GOLD CREATIONS, CHRISTINA BRODA, and HECTOR SANCHEZ, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff has moved to strike certain affirmative defenses and to dismiss a counterclaim raised in defendants' February 10, 2005 Answer to plaintiff's complaint.*fn1 Specifically, plaintiff requests that "Defendants['] Affirmative Defenses paragraph 40 through 43 and Defendants['] Counterclaim paragraph 44 through 46 ? be stricken and dismissed because (1) Defendants plead inapplicable legal principles and statutes, and (2) Defendants fail to plead with sufficient particularity to give proper notice."*fn2

  II. LEGAL STANDARD

  A. Motion to Strike

  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) permits the Court to "order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Courts are generally "very reluctant to determine disputed or substantial issues of law on a motion to strike."*fn3 Indeed, "[m]otions to strike will be granted only where it appears to a certainty that a defense would fail despite any state of facts which could be proved."*fn4

  B. Motion to Dismiss

  Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss should be granted only if "`it appears beyond doubt that the [nonmovants] can prove no set of facts in support of [their] claim[s] which would entitle [them] to relief.'"*fn5 The task of the court in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is "merely to assess the legal feasibility of the [claim], not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof."*fn6 When deciding a motion to dismiss, courts must accept all factual allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in the nonmovants' favor.*fn7

  III. DISCUSSION

  "This is an action for copyright infringement and related claims arising under the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. [§] 101 et seq. [the "Copyright Act"], and related statutes and common law."*fn8 Plaintiff asserts no claims pursuant to Title 35 of the United States Code, which governs patents. Defendants' Answer makes no mention of the Copyright Act, but rather sets forth a number of affirmative defenses and one counterclaim that cite to Title 35.

  Specifically, the Answer contains four "Affirmative Defenses:"

 

40. The copyrights in suit, or any claim thereof, are invalid for failure to comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112 and § 251. 41. The copyrights in suit, or any claim thereof, are invalid for failure to comply with the statutory requirements of patentability. 35 U.S.C. § 102.
42. The copyrights in suit, or any claim thereof, are invalid for failure to meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 101.
43. The copyrights in suit, or any claim thereof, are invalid in that any differences, if any, between the prior art and the subject matter of the copyrights as a whole would have been obvious at the time the subject of the alleged copyright was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the subject matter pertains, making the copyrights invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 103.*fn9
  The Answer also contains the following "Counterclaim" for declaratory relief:

 

46. Declaratory relief is requested to the effect that the copyrights alleged to be infringed, or any of them are neither infringed nor valid on the same basis set forth in the affirmative defenses, namely the copyrights do not meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112, § 251, § 102, § 101 and § 103.*fn10
  Plaintiff correctly notes that "35 U.S.C. has nothing to do with copyright law or its requirements."*fn11 Indeed, because plaintiff does not assert that defendants violated Title 35, defendants' patent law-based affirmative defenses are entirely inapposite.*fn12 Defendants do nothing to clarify their positions. Rather, in opposition to plaintiff's motion to strike, defendants merely rehash their affirmative defenses.*fn13 Because the question of whether plaintiff's designs are patentable is wholly irrelevant to the question of whether defendants infringed plaintiff's copyright, paragraphs 40 through 43 of the Answer are stricken.

  Defendants attempt to bring their putative counterclaim within the scope of this case, asserting that "[d]efendants['] counterclaim [is] a remedy provided by 17 U.S.C. § 502, which allows the Court . . . to grant temporary and final injunction . . . which is the declaratory relief sought by Defendants herein."*fn14 Defendants' efforts are unavailing. Section 502 permits the Court to "grant temporary and final injunctions on such terms as it may deem reasonable to prevent or restrain infringement of a copyright"*fn15 — not, as the Answer seeks, to declare that certain copyrights do not meet various requirements of the patent laws. In any case, if defendants seek an injunction, they should request one, rather than shoehorn a claim for declarative relief into the injunction provisions of the Copyright Act.*fn16 Accordingly, defendants' counterclaim is dismissed. IV. CONCLUSION

  Plaintiff's motions are granted. Paragraphs 40 through 43 of the Answer are hereby stricken, and the counterclaim for declaratory relief is dismissed.

  SO ORDERED.


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