United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
G. Carr Sr. U.S. District Judge
a copyright-infringement case.
Design Basics, LLC (DB), creates, markets, and licenses
architectural plans for single-family homes. (Doc. 58 at
¶1). It contends that defendants - Forrester Wehrle
Homes, Inc.; Wehrle Development, Ltd.; and their principals
Jeffrey, Richard, and Joseph Wehrle (collectively, FWH) -
infringed its copyrights in twenty-three architectural plans.
(Id. at ¶¶35-36).
is the defendants' partial motion for summary judgment on
statute-of-limitations grounds. (Doc. 81).
on the Supreme Court's statement in Petrella v.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., __ U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 1962,
1968 (2014), that the three-year limitations period for
infringement claims creates a “three-year look-back,
” FWH argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on
all of DB's claims to the extent they seek damages for
any infringing acts that occurred more than three years
before the filing of this suit.
following reasons, I deny the motion.
relationship between DB and FWH dates back to 1993, when DB
licensed two of its architectural plans - the Ashton and the
Albany - to FWH. (Doc. 58 at ¶37). Since that time, DB,
whether on its own initiative or at the request of FWH,
mailed at least fifteen of its catalogs containing additional
architectural designs to FWH. (Id.; Doc. 83-3 at
March, 2013, while DB was preparing “marketing
efforts” in Ohio, the company “became aware that
[FWH] had violated its copyrights in one or more distinct
ways.” (Doc. 58 at ¶35). Some evidence in the
record suggests that FWH created the allegedly infringing
homes between 2000 and 2007. (Doc. 81 at 4). DB learned of
these alleged infringements when its “senior designer,
” Carl Cuozzo, visited FWH's website and concluded
that FWH's designs infringed DB's copyrighted plans.
(Doc. 83-3 at ¶4).
filed this suit on April 6, 2015. (Doc. 1).
judgment is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 where the
opposing party fails to show the existence of an essential
element for which that party bears the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The movant must initially show the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Id. at 323.
the movant meets that burden, the “burden shifts to the
nonmoving party [to] set forth specific facts showing there
is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). Rule 56
“requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the
[unverified] pleadings” and submit admissible evidence
supporting its position. Celotex, supra,
477 U.S. at 324.
accept the non-movant's evidence as true and construe all
evidence in its favor. Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Tech.
Servs., Inc., 504 U.S. 451, 456 (1992).
Copyright Act provides that “[n]o civil action shall be
maintained under the provisions of this title unless it is
commenced within three years after the claim accrued.”
17 U.S.C. § 507(b).
controlling Sixth Circuit case law, a claim for copyright
infringement “accrues when a plaintiff knows of the
potential violation or is chargeable with such
knowledge.” Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV
Publishing, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 390 (6th Cir. 2007);
accord Mitchell v. Capitol Records, LLC, __
F.Supp.3d __, 2017 WL ...