Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
A party's claims are not preempted by federal copyright statutes so long as the claims contain elements that are different in kind from copyright infringement.
Host International, Inc. ("Host") created robotic figures resembling actors George Wendt and John Ratzenberger figures and placed them in airport bars without the actors’ permission. Wendt and Ratzenberger brought a trademark infringement action under 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(a) of the Lanham Act and Cal. Civ. Code § 3344. Upon remand, the district court granted summary judgement in favor of Host and intervenor, holding that there was no similarity between the figures and the actors such that a genuine issue of material fact existed.
Was Cal. Civ. Code § 3344 preempted by federal copyright law?
The appellate court reversed and remanded. It held that Cal. Civ. Code § 3344 was not preempted by federal copyright law, as argued by Host and that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the degree of similarity between the figures and the actors. The court also held that since there were genuine issues of material fact with respect to a likelihood of confusion between the figures and the actors, summary judgment with respect to 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(a) was improper.