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Barefoot Architect, Inc. v. Bunge, 09-4495

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By FindLaw Staff on January 14, 2011 4:33 PM

Action for violation of a copyright in a home design

Barefoot Architect, Inc. v. Bunge, 09-4495, concerned an architect's suit against former clients and an architectural firm for violation of the Lanham Act and breach of contract and a claim that defendants had violated its copyright in a home design.

The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiff's copyright claim on the ground that it did not own the copyright to the architectural plans at the time those rights were allegedly infringed, and that is thus lacks standing to assert a copyright infringement action, as although, at least where there is no dispute between transferor and transferee, a third party infringer cannot evade liability by invoking section 204(a) and demanding a contemporaneously-drafted instrument,  none of the proffered evidence permits a jury to conclude that an oral transfer of the copyright design from plaintiff's former firm took place on Ocober 5, 1999.  However, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of defendants' tortious-interference counterclaim as defendants' allegation that plaintiff's delay in permitting and the consequent delay in construction fulfills the elements of section 766A,  Lastly, the court also vacated the district court's sua sponte dismissal of defendants' breach of contract and of fiduciary duty counterclaims and remanded as all defendants can use these claims as anchor claims to which they may attach their resurrected tortious-interference-with-contract statute.

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