Whether someone else’s movie includes your building in Times Square (a properly defunct trademark claim) or, as Marty Schwimmer reports, your pinball machine in the corner of the room, being an IP jerk — at least in front of U.S. District Judge Denny Chin — will only get you so far:
[T]he movie ‘What Women Want’ depicted a pinball machine in the background of a scene. The owner of rights in the pinball machine sued the producer, Paramount, for copyright and trademark. The court said “de minimis non curat lex.”
The decision is here.
Judge Chin ordered “costs” (basically the filing fee and other trivial amounts) awarded to the defendant, but explicitly stated that plaintiff was not required to pay the defendant’s attorneys’ fees. For while the law does not concern itself with trifles, the law unfortunately considers trifling the legal fees expended by those forced to defend manifestly meritless causes — even under a statute such as the Copyright Act which permits fee-shifting. And that remains no small thing at all.