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Harbor Motor Co. v. Arnell Chevrolet-Geo, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

April 2, 2001, Argued ; September 17, 2001, Decided

No. 00-3286

Opinion

 [***1284]   [*640]  RIPPLE, Circuit Judge. Harbor Motor Company, Inc. ("Harbor") brought suit against Arnell Chevrolet-Geo, Inc. ("Arnell") and Post-Tribune Publishing Company, Inc. ("Post-Tribune"), alleging copyright infringement. Arnell and the Post-Tribune tendered to Harbor an offer of judgment for $ 20,100, which Harbor rejected. The case proceeded to trial and, at the close of Harbor's case-in-chief, both Arnell and the Post-Tribune moved for judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted the motion as to the Post-Tribune but permitted the claims against Arnell to go to the jury. The jury found in favor of Harbor [**2]  and awarded Harbor $ 12,500 in damages.

The district court then awarded attorney's fees as follows: (1) the Post-Tribune received over $ 104,000 in costs and attorney's fees as a prevailing party under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.; (2) Arnell received more than $ 71,000 in costs and attorney's fees pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 because Harbor's $ 12,500 judgment against Arnell was less than the $ 20,100 joint offer of judgment; and (3) Harbor's request for costs and attorney's fees was denied. Harbor now appeals both the district court's decision to grant the Post-Tribune's motion for judgment as a matter of law and the court's award of costs and attorney's fees. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

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265 F.3d 638 *; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 20627 **; 60 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1283 ***; Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P28,314; 50 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 459

HARBOR MOTOR COMPANY, INCORPORATED, d/b/a HARBOR OLDSMOBILE-GMC TRUCK, an Indiana Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ARNELL CHEVROLET-GEO, INCORPORATED, an Indiana Corporation, d/b/a ARNELL CHEVROLET, and POST-TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY, INCORPORATED, d/b/a POST-TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER, an Indiana Corporation, Defendants-Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. No. 97 C 379. Allen Sharp, Judge.

Disposition: Order granting judgment as a matter of law to the Post-Tribune reversed. Order of attorney's fees to the Post-Tribune as a prevailing party reversed. Order awarding Arnell costs and attorney's fees under Rule 68 reversed. Order denying Harbor its costs and attorney's fees vacated. Case remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

CORE TERMS

costs, attorney's fees, prevailing party, infringement, advertisement, district court, newspaper, joint offer, Copyright Act, tent, matter of law, contributory, infringement claim, unapportioned, sales, motion for judgment as a matter of law, entitlement, comparable, contends, changes, grounds, parties

Copyright Law, Civil Infringement Actions, Elements, Copying by Defendants, General Overview, Ownership, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Substantial Evidence, Settlements, Offers of Judgment, Acceptances, Costs & Attorney Fees, Costs, Making of Offers, Clearly Erroneous Review, Remedies, Damages, Types of Damages, Costs & Attorney Fees, Attorney Fees & Expenses, Basis of Recovery, Statutory Awards, Pensions & Benefits Law, ERISA, Civil Litigation, Rejection, Contracts Law, Defenses, Ambiguities & Mistakes, Criminal Law & Procedure, Counsel, Joint Representation