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Thursday, October 18, 2007
4th Circuit Rules in Latest Baltimore Ravens Logo Infringement Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has published its opinion in Bouchat v. Bon-Ton Department Stores et al., the latest copyright infringment case concerning the logo of the Baltimore Ravens (via Above-the-Law and How appealing). In earlier litigation, plaintiff Bouchat
sued the Baltimore Ravens, Inc. (the Ravens)and National Football League Properties, Inc. (NFLP), alleging that these defendants had copied one of his drawings in choosing a logo for the Ravens. A jury considering liability found that the Ravens and NFLP had infringed Bouchat’s copyright in the drawing, but a second jury considering damages awarded none. We affirmed in each of two appeals. In the four cases before us today, Bouchat sues several hundred companies (licensees) that used the infringing logo in various endeavors, including the production and marketing of official Ravens merchandise. In summary judgment proceedings in these cases, the district court held that the licensees had infringed Bouchat’s copyright, but denied his requests for actual or statutory damages. Bouchat appeals the judgments, and we affirm. We conclude that the doctrine of claim preclusion prevents Bouchat from obtaining actual damages from the licensees and that his failure to register his copyright before infringement began renders him ineligible for statutory damages.
For more information on the underlying dispute, see Greg's post here, which links to the 4th Circuit's opinion in Bouchat's earlier case against the Ravens.


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