Justin.tv Wins Partial Dismissal of Ongoing Trademark Infringement Dispute

By Joseph Mandour on April 2, 2012

boxing_gloves-thumb-200x132-38894 Orange County – Justin.tv, the online video streaming service, has won a partial dismissal in a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against it by Zuffa, LLC for what Zuffa claimed were illegal broadcasts of UFC 121 (Ultimate Fighting Championship, Lesnar vs. Velasquez).

Justin.tv filed the motion to dismiss the claims on the grounds that they “improperly duplicate their copyright claims.” While some of the counts of infringement were dismissed altogether, the court ruled that Zuffa is unable to use trademark law to prosecute copyright violations.

In its complaint, Zuffa alleged that UFC was liable for trademark infringement because certain items such as the UFC logos were displayed on the online broadcasts without permission from Zuffa. However, the court did not agree. “Zuffa would possess a mutant-copyright or perpetual copyright because nobody would ever be able to copy the video and display it regardless of whether the copyright had entered the public domain,” as stated in court documents.

In addition to getting trademark claims dismissed, Justin.tv was also successful in getting claims of ‘stealing cable’ thrown out as well. Essentially, Zuffa’s claims of stealing cable were not clearly covered by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s Safe Harbor provisions.

The court’s decision to dismiss the stealing cable claims were based on its emphasis that it was not Justin.tv itself that was receiving the broadcast, an observation that Zuffa does not argue with. The court did add that while it is Justin.tv’s legal responsibility to monitor how third-party users feed in to the broadcast, Zuffa’s specific argument to support its charges was inapplicable.

Certain trademark claims in addition to the copyright claims still must be decided by the court. No date has been set as to when the court will make its decision.

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