Ninth Circuit Broadens Definition of “Copyright Registration” for Litigation Purposes
Insight June 02, 2010
In order to initiate an infringement action in federal court, the Copyright Act requires the litigating party to hold a copyright registration. While the circuits are split on what constitutes a copyright registration, the Ninth Circuit recently joined the Fifth and Seventh Circuits in Cosmetic Ideas v. IAC in holding that anapplication for copyright registration suffices for a registration for litigation purposes.
In this case, Cosmetic Ideas developed, manufactured, and sold a unique piece of costume jewelry starting in 1999. Sometime thereafter, another company, HSN, started manufacturing and distributing a "virtually identical" piece of jewelry. Cosmetic applied for copyright registration of its jewelry on March 6, 2008 and received confirmation from the Copyright Office of receipt of the application on March 12. Cosmetic filed its infringement action on March 27, before the Copyright Office had issued a registration certificate for the jewelry (which it subsequently did). Despite that fact, the Ninth Circuit held that the application sufficed for the purposes of initiating an action in court.
This decision by the Ninth Circuit is beneficial to plaintiffs who can now proceed with infringement actions without worrying about their cases being dismissed or impeded for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction if they have not yet been granted a copyright registration from the Copyright Office.