United States District Court, E.D. New York
James J. Lillie, Esq., LILLIE LAW, LLC, Ronkonkoma, NY, for the Plaintiff.
Todd A. Higgins, Esq., CROSBY & HIGGINS, LLP, New York, NY, for the Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DENIS R. HURLEY, District Judge.
Plaintiff Liza Lambertini ("Plaintiff" or "Lambertini") filed the present action against defendant Julie Fann ("Defendant" or "Fann") alleging violations of the copyright laws of the United States, 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq. Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), and for an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.
The following summary of the facts is taken from the Complaint. Plaintiff, a resident of Suffolk County, New York, is the sole creator of numerous pieces of artwork featuring fairies for which she has obtained copyright protection. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 9.) Plaintiff's works have been displayed, marketed, and sold locally and online. ( Id. ¶¶ 12, 13.) Defendant has developed works of art that are claimed to be substantially similar to Plaintiff's copyrighted works. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Despite Plaintiff's communication to Defendant that Defendant's works were substantially similar to Plaintiff's, and Plaintiff's request "that Defendant avoid the substantial similarity of [P]laintiff's works, including the look and feel of [P]laintiff's line of works, " a variety of websites offer for sale, and, in fact, have sold Defendant's works to the general public without Plaintiff's knowledge, in some cases, and without her consent. ( Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) In addition, it is claimed that "Defendant offers to license her infringing works on [an] array of interactive websites" without Plaintiff's knowledge in some cases, and without her consent. ( Id. ¶ 17.)
I. Motion to Dismiss: Legal Standards
Rule 8(a) provides that a pleading shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has recently clarified the pleading standard applicable in evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
First, in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Court disavowed the wellknown statement in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562. Instead, to survive a motion to dismiss under Twombly, a plaintiff must allege "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.
While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).
Id. at 555 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
More recently, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court provided further guidance, setting forth a two-pronged approach for courts deciding a motion to dismiss. First, a court should "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at 679. "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. Thus, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)).
Second, "[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. ...