Stutts v. Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Infringement
  • Date Filed: 04-18-2014
  • Case #: 06:13-CV-10
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53839
  • Westlaw Citation: 2014 WL 1572736
  • Full Text Opinion

When two works are substantially similar the court may grant summary judgment if when viewing evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party they can draw inferences from the evidence presented that reasonable jurors could not find a substantially similar idea or expression.

Opinion (Costa): Plaintive Steve Stutts (Stutts) operated a website featuring Texas saltwater fishing guides and the services they offer. Defendant Texas Saltwater Fishing, Magazine Inc. (TSF) produced magazines relating to Texas Saltwater Fishing and maintained a website containing the two nameplates Stutts argued infringed on the copyright he received for his website and logo which covered the text, content, and photographic images that have been present on the website since its launch. The prime facie case for copyright infringement required Stutts to show ownership of a valid copyright and that TSF’s nameplates copied constitute elements that were original to Stutts’s logo. Stutts’s claim failed to meet the second element. The Court held that TSF’s nameplates did not meet the two sub-elements of “Actionable copying,” factual copying of a copyrighted item and that the nameplates were substantially similar to Stutts’s logo. In evaluating the second element the Court used the extrinsic/extrinsic test that uses “[a] side-by-side comparison . . . between the original and the copy to determine whether a layman would view the two works as substantially similar.” Finding that reasonable jurors could not find a substantially similar idea or expression, the Court GRANTED TSF's motion for summary judgment.

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