Lexis Nexis - Case Brief

Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.

Have you taken the NEXT STEP IN LEGAL RESEARCH?

Law School Case Brief

Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. - 510 U.S. 517, 114 S. Ct. 1023 (1994)

Rule:

The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C.S. § 505, provides that in any copyright infringement action a court may award a reasonable attorney's fee to a prevailing party as part of the costs. 

Facts:

After petitioner Fogerty's successful defense of a copyright infringement action filed against him by respondent Fantasy, Inc., the District Court denied his motion for attorney's fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505, which provides in relevant part that in such an action "the court may . . . award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs." The Court of Appeals affirmed, declining to abandon it's "dual standard" for awarding § 505 fees -- under which prevailing plaintiffs are generally awarded attorney's fees as a matter of course, while defendants must show that the original suit was frivolous or brought in bad faith -- in favor of the so-called "evenhanded" approach, in which no distinction is made between prevailing plaintiffs and prevailing defendants. Fogerty sought review of the judgment denying his motion for attorney's fees.

Issue:

Did the lower court err in holding Fogerty, the prevailing defendant, to a more stringent standard than that applicable to a prevailing plaintiff?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court held that unless provided otherwise, neither party was entitled to compensation for attorney fees incurred in litigation. The court further held that § 505, which provided for the recovery of attorney fees for a prevailing party as a matter of a court's discretion, was to be applied identically to prevailing plaintiffs as to prevailing defendants. Accordingly, because the lower court erroneously held Fogerty, the prevailing defendant, to a more stringent standard than that applicable to a prevailing plaintiff, its judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Access the full text case Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.
Be Sure You're Prepared for Class