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Fee Shifting and Reasonable Attorneys Fees under 17 USC 505 Cases of Interest >  IP >  Copyright
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Riviera Distribs. v. Jones

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Riviera Distribs. v. Jones
Case No 04-1430, Decided February 20, 2008 (Riviera Distribs. v. Jones, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 3498 (7th Cir. 2008))

FACTS- Plaintiffs allege that “Stars and Stripes” video poker game sold by Defendants infringes on Plaintiffs “Americana” source code

(1) Complaint was filed, and Riviera sought dismissal w/o prejudice in an effort to build up better evidence. District Judge dismissed w/ Prejudice
(2) Defendants filed for attorney fees under §101 of the Copyright Act (17 USC §505). Dist Ct denied request for fees, and said Defendants were not prevailing party, as “there had been no finding with respect to the merits of the case.”

RULE- Prevailing party in copyright litigation is presumptively entitled to reimbursement of its attorney’s fees (Woodhaven Homes & Realty, Inc. v. Hotz, 396 F.3d 822, 824 (7th Cir. 2005)).

(1) Judgment Reversed, Case remanded for award of Reasonable Attorney Fees to Midwest under 17 USC §505. “Midwest obtained a favorable judgment. That it came about when Riviera threw in the towel does not make Midwest less the victor than. . . if the judge granted summary judgment, or a jury returned a verdict in its favor. Riviera sued; Midwest won; no more is required.”
(2) Case was filed in the “teeth of an agreement not to sue. . . and this is the second suit based on fundamentally the same claim of infringement.” “Agreements to engage in alternative dispute resolution must be enforced, if they are valid as a matter of state contract law, whether or not they are aptly labeled ‘arbitration.’”
(3) “By filing another suit, Riviera forced Midwest to bear the very expenses that the parties had agreed to avoid.”--> Reversed, and remanded for award of reasonable attorneys fees

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