Kober Hanssen Mitchell Architects v. Wilson Care Home Kailua

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 01-16-2015
  • Case #: 14-00479 DKW-BMK
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court for the District of Hawaii
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5736
  • Full Text Opinion

An affirmative defense is only granted in a copyright infringement case if the defense appears on the face of the pleading and the defense is complete.

Opinion (Watson): Plaintiff Kober Hanssen Mitchell Architects (“KHMA”) is an architectural firm. Defendant Wilson Care Home Kailua, Inc. ("Wilson") is a previous client of KHMA. KHMA alleges that Wilson infringed upon its copyright by utilizing architectural blueprints after KHMA was dismissed from the project. Wilson filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the statute of limitations bars the claim and KHMA had given it a license to use the plans. Pursuant to the Copyright Act, “civil actions must be brought ‘within three years after the claim accrued.’” Although the complaint was filed on October 21, 2014 and Wilson claims that the alleged copyright infringement occurred in 2011, this motion was denied because “[A] complaint cannot be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would establish the timeliness of the claim.” Wilson also asserts that the KHMA issued it a implied license to use the architectural plans. A license is implied if “‘(1) a person (the licensee) requests the creation of a work, (2) the creator (the licensor) makes that particular work and delivers it to the licensee who requested it, and (3) the licensor intends that the licensee-requestor copy and distribute his work.’” In order to determine whether or not KHMA provided Wilson with a license to use its copyrighted plan, the court must assess KHMA’s actions at the time the plan was given to Wilson. This process cannot be conducted by examining pleadings exclusively. Therefore, the motion to dismiss the complaint is DENIED.

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