Rucker v. Harlequin Enterprises, LTD

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 02-26-2013
  • Case #: H-12-1135
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Rosenthal
  • Full Text Opinion

Copyright violations will not be found when the only similarities between competing romance novels are generic tropes and character traits commonly used in the industry.

Opinion (Rosenthal): Harlequin Enterprises, LTD (“Harlequin”) published a romance novel, "The Good Wife", that Kelly Rucker (“Rucker”) alleged infringed her own novel, "How to Love a Billionare." Rucker alleged that Harlequin obtained her work from writing competitions that Rucker entered and Harlequin’s representatives judged. Although, Rucker did not allege with specificity what competitions Harlequin’s representatives judged, and when they would have obtained Rucker’s work. The Court then analyzed the similarity between the two works, finding that the only similarities found were uncopyrightable elements, such as themes and tropes. The Court also found that many of the similarities Rucker cited were generic to romance novel characters, and were not copyrightable. Because the court found no actionable similarity between the two works, Harlequin’s motion to dismiss was GRANTED.

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