Monday, January 17, 2011

Copyright Infringement: Attorneys Fees Denied for Prevailing Party in Roger Miller Case

Roger Miller Music Inc. v. SONY/ATV Publishing LLC, 2010 WL 4180814 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 19, 2010).

Although it is often said that there is a presumption that attorneys fees are awarded to the prevailing party, obtaining attorneys fees is tricky.   Just because you won the case doesn't mean that your time entries can be submitted willy-nilly for every effort made in the case.   Because there are so many minefields, I devoted a whole chapter of Copyright Litigation Handbook to the topic.

In Roger Miller Music, the plaintiff prevailed, but didn't recover fees.   But the fee application did not argue the Fogerty factors:

1. whether the non-prevailing party's claims were frivolous;
2. the non-prevailing party's motivation;
3. the factual and legal unreasonableness of the non-prevailing party's position;
4. the need to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence.

From Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517 (1994).   The takeaway:

1  fee applications should address the Fogerty factors;
2. fee applications should distinguish between time spent on successful and unsuccessful efforts;
3. fee applications should not ask for fees related to unsuccessful efforts.
4. fee applications should argue the "big picture" questions of policy and deterrence.

In Roger Miller, plaintiffs unsuccessfully appealed one of the trial court determinations, then failed to break out the time expended on that appeal.    The trial court found that plaintiff's failure to submit evidence that the Fogerty factors were satisfied warranted denial of attorneys fees.

More on attorneys fees here.

In sum, simply winning isn't enough to recoup your attorneys fees.
Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2010 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: