Copyright Infringement Attorney Fees.

Byline: Derek Hawkins

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Richard N. Bell v. Vacuforce, LLC

Case No.: 18-1159; 18-1368

Officials: MANION, HAMILTON, and BRENNAN, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Copyright Infringement Attorney Fees

Richard Bell brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against Vacuforce, LLC, accusing it of publishing his photograph of the Indianapolis skyline on its website without a license. Vacuforce hired attorney Paul Overhauser to defend it. The parties quickly settled, so the federal lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.

That was not the end of the story. Overhauser then moved to recover attorney fees from plaintiff Bell. He argued that since the settlement produced a dismissal with prejudice, Vacuforce was the "prevailing party" for purposes of fees under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 505. The district court considered Overhauser's motion frivolous and misleading. The court denied the motion and ordered two monetary sanctions against Overhauser: one under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and another under 28 U.S.C. 1927...

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