Plaintiff accuses defendant of misrepresenting infringement; successfully bars defendant’s copyright notices to eBay: Design Furnishings v. Zen Path (E.D. Cal. Dec. 23, 2010)

Plaintiff accuses defendant of misrepresenting infringement; successfully bars defendant’s copyright notices to eBay: Design Furnishings v. Zen Path (E.D. Cal. Dec. 23, 2010)

On Dec. 23, a California federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring a defendant from sending copyright notices to eBay Inc. pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (Design Furnishings, Inc. v. Zen Path, LLC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135819 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 23, 2010) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers). In doing so, the judge cited previous findings that the defendant's furniture was not entitled to protection.  

Plaintiff Design Furnishings, Inc. (DFI) filed an action against defendant Zen Path, LLC (Zen Path), arising from defendant's notices of copyright infringement to eBay based on plaintiff's online sales of outdoor wicker patio furniture, which resulted in eBay taking action against plaintiff. DFI, relying on 17 U.S.C. § 512(f), accused Zen Path of knowingly misrepresenting infringement and sought to enjoin Zen Path from submitting any further notices of claimed infringement to eBay. In granting the injunction, the court held that:

Defendant was never able to point to the specific feature of the furniture that could be copyrighted when asked by plaintiff, yet defendant filed 63 notices of claimed copyright infringement. Defendant has never been able to point to what can be copyrighted. In court, when finally pressed, defendant's counsel referred to the design of the wicker. The court cannot conclude that defendant thought it had a copyright in the design of the wicker when it notified eBay. Further, even if it could be argued that defendant initially believed it had a valid copyright claim, it is substantially more implausible to argue that defendant could continue to entertain such a belief now that its claim has been rejected by both the USCO [United States Copyright Office] and this court.