• EDVA Rejects Twombley/Iqbal Challenge to Copyright Infringement Claim
  • September 2, 2010 | Author: Dabney J. Carr
  • Law Firm: Troutman Sanders LLP - McLean Office
  • While defendants have succesfully used the Supreme Court’s decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) to challenge factually unsupported complaints in other types of litigation, “Twiqbal’s” more rigorous pleading standards have not posed a significant hurdle to plaintiffs in intellectual property litigation.

    A similarly low threshold appears to apply in copyright infringement litigation. In a recent decision, Judge James C. Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement claim for failing to meet the requirements of Twombley and Iqbal. Judge Cacheris ruled that to state a claim for copyright infringement, a plaintiff must allege only the ownership of a valid copyright and copying of the original elements of the material by the defendant. Softech Worldwide, LLC v. Internet Tech. Broadcasting Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86389 (E.D. Va. Aug. 23, 2010) (citing Feist Pubs., Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)).

    Softech may not be the best example of the application of Twombley and Iqbal in the copyright context because the Complaint detailed the plaintiff’s development of its copyrighted software and the defendant’s alleged misappropriation of the software. Moreover, the motion to dismiss was a scattershot assertion of virtually every available threshold objection to a complaint - including personal jurisdiction, venue and an alleged violation of the “short and plain statement” rule in Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) -which the Court uniformly rejected. Regardless, it appears that a Complaint for copyright infringement, like patent infringement, need only provide bare-bones factual allegations to survive a motion to dismiss.