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David William Moran v. Designet International

November 18, 2011

DAVID WILLIAM MORAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DESIGNET INTERNATIONAL, REG MEDICOTT SCHOPP, RARU.COM, INC., KIMBERLY ANN SCHOPP, ROBERT KOPF, ROMAN JURGA, ELIZABETH CALI, AND MICHAEL SCHOPP, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, David William Moran, commenced this action against Defendants, deSignet International ("deSignet") and several of its employees, alleging claims for breach of contract and violations of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq. On March 19, 2010, this Court accepted the Honorable Hugh B. Scott's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), which recommended summary judgment in favor of the Defendants. (Docket Nos. 70, 71.) Presently before this Court is Defendants' Motion for Attorney Fees pursuant to Section 505 of the Copyright Act. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts*fn1

On March 3, 2000, Moran emailed deSignet, a manufacturer and designer of wedding and engagement rings and bands, and asked if it would develop a wedding ring based on a design that he created. (Magistrate Scott's R&R, p. 2; Docket No. 70.) deSignet agreed, but also asked Moran if it could purchase the design. (Id.) Moran declined the offer but, pursuant to their original agreement, presented his design to deSignet on March 4, 2000. (Id.) Soon thereafter, his design (the "Moran Knot"), was granted a copyright and registered with the Library of Congress, bearing the number "V Au-497-855." (Id., p. 1.) His design is pictured below. (Id., p. 3)

Subsequently, on two separate occasions, in April of 2000 and January of 2002, Moran asserted that deSignet violated this copyright by offering for sale on its website a design it alternatively called "The Waterfront Knot" and "The Kenmore Knot." (Id., p. 5) That design appears as follows:

(Id.)

deSignet claimed that its design was not based on the Moran Knot but on a book entitled Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction, by George Bain. (Id., p. 2.) Bain's book depicts hundreds of Celtic designs which were originally contained in the "Book of Kells," an ancient Celtic text published around 800 A.D., and undisputedly in the public domain. (Id., p. 3.) Specifically, deSignet claimed its design was based on this knot, found in the Book of Kells:

(Id.)

In resolving Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Judge Scott ultimately found that many of the features of the Moran Knot were in the public domain and that "[i]f you modify the elements which distinguish the Moran Knot from the knot in the Book of Kells, you are left with the Kenmore Knot." (Id., p 12.) He further explained, "The modifications which [Moran] alleges were made by the defendants to the Moran Knot, effectively removed those elements which distinguished the Moran Knot from the design in the Book of Kells. (Id.) Finally, he concluded, "in designing the Kenmore Knot[,] the defendants, in essence, removed the protectable elements of the Moran design." (Id.) Thus, because DeSignet's design did not infringe on protectable elements of the Moran Knot, Judge Scott recommended, and this Court ordered, summary judgment in favor of the Defendants.

B. Procedural History

Moran commenced this action by filing a complaint in this Court on June 29, 2005. (Docket No. 1.) On May 23, 2006, Defendants answered and filed a counterclaim against Moran. (Docket No. 5.) Judge Scott granted Moran leave to file an amended complaint on May 16, 2008, and Moran filed his new complaint eleven days later. (Docket Nos. 41, 44.) Defendants answered and re-asserted their counterclaim on June 16, 2008. (Docket No. 45.) Subsequently, on April 6, 2009, Defendants moved for summary judgment and Judge Scott issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that this Court grant the motion with respect to Moran's copyright claim on February 11, 2010. (Docket No. 70.)

Neither party objected to the R&R and this Court agreed with the Judge's reasoning; thus it ordered summary judgment in ...


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