Thanks to law student Tabitha,
Sep 20, 2002
Posted by John Admin
Thanks to law student Tabitha, we now have a copy of the judge’s ruling in the recent Stouffer matter. You can find the html version and the text version on our Yahoogroup. Word to the wise – the text version is quicker to download but a bit harder to read.
Discussion of the ruling can take place at the Harry Potter for Grownups Off Topic Yahoogroup if anyone wants to look over the legal issues. Speaking as someone who’s litigated copyright and trademark matters in the Southern District of New York (but not in front of this judge) the IP side of the analysis is very straightforward and relies heavily on the likelihood of confusion test from the Polaroid case in ruling that “by simply comparing the Harry Potter books to Stouffer’s works, and by examining the supposed similarities between the works cited by Stouffer in her briefs … no reasonable juror could find a likelihood of confusion as to the source of the two parties’ works.”
The sanctions issues are even more interesting – the court held that she submitted altered advertisements, exhibits evidencing a draft agreement with Warner Publisher Services, exhibits regarding “Larry Potter & his Best Friend Lily”, a booklet as an “exhibit to support her patently false allegation that ‘between April 1986 and September 1987, Ande aggressively promoted . . . The Legend of RAH and the MUGGLES’” – further, the court held that she herself forged invoices regarding sales of her books to Great Northern Distributors.
The Court found that Stouffer asserted claims and defenses without any reasonable basis in fact or law and has attempted to support such claims and defenses with items of evidence that have been created or altered for purposes of this litigation.