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.