How can a statute of limitations for copyright infringement bar a state law claim for an accounting of profits between co-authors brought under diversity jurisdiction?
Good question, right? I’ll let Bill Patry’s first paragraph serve as a fuller introduction to this fascinating post:
The First Circuit has struggled for years with a case involving the well-known Hummel figurines, drawings of which were created by Sister Berta Hummel in Germany in 1931. The most recent decision hopefully will put an end to what in my opinion has been meritless litigation pursued in one form or another for 40 years by a lawyer who went from representing one party to becoming a party himself, Cambridge Literary Properties, Ltd. v.W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik G.m.b.H & Co., KG, 2007 WL 4340860 (1s Cir. Dec. 13, 2007). The most recent decision raises important questions about the intersection of federal /state jurisdiction, state law actions for an accounting between co-authors, and the Copyright Act’s statute of limitations. The existence of a 10 page impassioned dissent describing the majority’s approach as “unprecedented and potentially pernicious” gives some flavor to the case.
Patry thinks the majority came out right, actually. This is one IP lawyers should have some familiarity with.