Tag: Supreme Court of the United States

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Unicolours v. H&M: Copyright Registration Validity
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U.S. Supreme Court Holds Copyright Remedy Classification Act of 1990 Does Not Abrogate State Sovereign Immunity for Copyright Infringement: Allen v. Cooper

Unicolours v. H&M: Copyright Registration Validity

On June 1, 2021, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the ongoing case of Unicolors v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P., No. 20-915.  With a nearly $1 million copyright verdict on the line, pattern manufacturer Unicolors, Inc.’s (“Unicolors”) fate is now at the Supreme Court to decide whether courts should refer copyright registration validity challenges to the Copyright Office where there is a known misrepresentation in the registration, but no evidence of intent to defraud.

 A copyright registration certificate is not valid if obtained by offering false information and that information, if known, would have resulted in the registration being denied. Under 17 U.S.C. §411(b)(2), where knowingly inaccurate information is included in an application for copyright registration, “the court shall request the Register of Copyrights to advise the court whether the inaccurate information if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse the registration.” 

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U.S. Supreme Court Holds Copyright Remedy Classification Act of 1990 Does Not Abrogate State Sovereign Immunity for Copyright Infringement: Allen v. Cooper

On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (“CRCA”) does not abrogate the states’ sovereign immunity from copyright infringement suits.[1]  The practical effect of this ruling is that copyright holders cannot sue the states for damages for copyright infringement.[2] 

Allen was decided in reliance on and accordance with Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd. v. College Savings Bank, a 1999 case in which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional the Patent Remedy Act (“PRA”), a related statute “basically identical” to the CRCA, that eliminated the states’ sovereign immunity from patent infringement suits.[3] 

Applying the reasoning of Florida Prepaid and emphasizing stare decisis, the Supreme Court rejected the arguments that either Article I’s Intellectual Property Clause or Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment’s limitations on state power provide a basis for the CRCA’s abrogation of state sovereign immunity in copyright suits.[4] 

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