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Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., et al. v. Ideal World Direct, et al., USDC S.D. New York

Movie studios brought copyright and trademark infringement suit against several web sites that provided access to pirating software. In an earlier ruling (that we summarized on October 3), the district court granted defendant Ashworth’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because his web site was “passive” and simply served as a portal for another web site where pirating software was available.

Ashworth moved for entry of judgment and attorney’s fees and costs. Section 505 of the Copyright Act provides that a court, in its discretion, may allow the recovery of full costs and award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. The Lanham Act allows a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees in exceptional cases to the prevailing party. The district court noted that the Second Circuit has not directly addressed whether the dismissal of claims against a defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction renders him a “prevailing party” for purposes of awarding attorney’s fees and costs under the Copyright Act and Lanham Act, but declined to decide this issue in this case. Instead, the district court concluded that the plaintiffs did not bring suit in bad faith or assert frivolous or objectively unreasonable claims, and therefore denied the motion for attorney’s fees and costs but granted the motion for entry of judgment.