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Almut Reinicke v. Creative Empire

January 24, 2013

ALMUT REINICKE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CREATIVE EMPIRE, LLC, DBA MORE DEFINITE MANGOLANGUAGES.COM, A MICHIGAN LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; AND DOES 1-10, INCLUSIVE,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR A STATEMENT [Dkt. No. 4.]

Before the Court is Defendant Creative Empire LLC's motion to dismiss and motion for a more definite statement. (Dkt. No. 4.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on November 30, 2012. (Dkt. No. 12.) Defendant filed a reply on December 14, 2012. (Dkt. No. 13.) The motions are submitted on the papers without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). After a review of the briefs, supporting documentation, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's motion to dismiss and motion for a more definite statement.

Background

On June 11, 2012, Plaintiff Almut Reinicke filed a complaint against Defendant Creative Empire, LLC dba mangolanguages.com alleging copyright infringement, conversion and quantum meruit. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) Defendant has an online language learning software commonly known and distributed over the Internet as Mango 2.0. (Id. ¶ 1.) It provides a online text content language learning services. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 9.)

Plaintiff is a native German speaker and Defendant contracted with Plaintiff to create a "specific online text content for the German language learning services that were part of Mango 2.0." (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff used her creative skills so students using the Mango 2.0 language learning services would complete the German language program and be conversant, be able to read and understand basic German writings, and be able to communicate in writing in German. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that the text content constitutes the creative Work created and owned by Plaintiff. Plaintiff registered her Work entitled "Almut Reincke Mango German Course I" with the United States Copyright Office.*fn1 (Id.)

The Work consists of 10 chapters with specific conversational and grammatical goals for each chapter. (Id. ¶ 11.) Each chapter includes detailed instructions on proper grammar and contain grammar and cultural notes that provide the necessary context for the content contained in the particular chapter. (Id.) Plaintiff also created supplemental materials for use in the Mango 2.0 German course which provided students with phonetic spellings of German words. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges she was an independent contractor with Defendant and was never an employee. (Id. ¶ 12.) The terms for Plaintiff's creation of the Work were not contained in a written agreement between the parties. (Id.) Defendant paid Plaintiff a nominal sum for the substantial time and effort to create the Work and did not pay the reasonable value for her services. (Id.)

Despite the fact that Defendant did not own the copyright to the Work, it incorporated the Work into its online language learning services for Mango 2.0 since November 2010. (Id. ¶ 13.) Defendant has marketed and sold the Work online via the website and continues to do so. (Id. ¶ 13.) It has also used the Work at conferences and trade shows and has received great profit and benefit from the Work. (Id.)

Discussion

Defendant moves to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Plaintiff's second claim for relief for conversion, third claim for relief for quantum meruit, prayer for relief for punitive damages, statutory damages and attorney's fees in connection with its first claim for relief of copyright infringement. Defendant also moves for a more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) as to the first claim of relief for copyright infringement.

A. Legal Standard for Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A complaint may survive a motion to dismiss only if, taking all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, it contains enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to ...


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