Home » Copyright » District Court Needs to Seek Opinion of Copyright Office on Significance of Misstatements Made by Applicant

District Court Needs to Seek Opinion of Copyright Office on Significance of Misstatements Made by Applicant

DeliverMed Holdings v. Schaltenbrand, Case Nos. 12-3773 & 12-3774 (7th Cir. Oct. 7, 2013)

The 7th Circuit has ruled that a district court should seek the opinion of the Register of Copyrights as to the significance of an applicant’s misstatements before canceling the applicant’s registration.

In particular, in this case, the plaintiff filed for a copyright registration after suit was filed, and in doing so, referred to an agreement to establish ownership of the registration.  However, the plaintiff knew that no such agreement existed.  While the other party to the agreement did sign a transfer of ownership to the plaintiff, the Defendant nonetheless moved to revoke the registration based on the plaintiff’s misstatements.  The district court agreed that the statements made by plaintiff constituted fraud, and invalidated the copyright registration.   Defendant appealed.

While cautioning copyright claimants from adopting a strategy based on such a registration, the 7th Circuit indicated that the district court should have sought the opinion of the Register of Copyrights as to the significance of the misstatements prior to invalidating the registration.  The Court made this ruling based on a procedure initiated by the Copyright Office in 2009 allowing courts to seek guidance from the Register.

Interestingly, the Court did not overturn a ruling by the District Court directing plaintiff to pay Defendant’s attorneys fees, even though Defendant’s victory was due, at least in part, to the invalidation of plaintiff’s copyright registration.


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