Law Firms

9th Circuit Allows Law Firm’s Infringement Suit for Website Copying

A federal appeals court has refused to toss a lawsuit by a 50-lawyer personal injury law firm that claims another two-lawyer law firm used its copyrighted website content.

The defendant law firm, San Diego-based Recordon & Recordon, had claimed the Northern District of California was the improper venue for the suit since it limits its practice to Southern California, the Recorder reports. But the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Recordon’s conduct had targeted the Northern California law firm, Brayton Purcell, which is based in Novato, and venue was proper.

A dissenter, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, said Recordon shouldn’t have to defend the suit in Northern California. “Under the majority’s opinion, every website operator faces the potential that he will be hailed into far-away courts based upon allegations of intellectual property infringement, if he happens to know where the alleged owner of the property rights resides,” he wrote in the opinion (PDF).

Recordon name partner Stephen Recordon told the Recorder that a vendor it hired to create the website had stolen Brayton Purcell’s content without its knowledge. “Years of litigation, thousands and thousands of dollars, and all because you hire the wrong person,” he said.

The law firms had agreed to binding arbitration in the suit, leading to a finding that Recordon & Recordon was one-third responsible for the copyright violation. The law firm was ordered to pay more than $24,000 in statutory damages and nearly $37,000 in fees and costs, according to the story.

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