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Gold Value International Textile, Inc. v. Forever 21, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 22, 2018

GOLD VALUE INTERNATIONAL TEXTILE, INC., d/b/a FIESTA FABRIC, a California Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
FOREVER 21, INC., a Delaware Corporation; and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION [39]; DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [57]

          HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Currently before the Court are Defendant Forever 21, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (“Defendant's Motion”) [57] and Plaintiff Gold Value International Textile, Inc.'s (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Summary Adjudication (“Plaintiff's Motion”) [39]. Having considered all papers filed in support of the Motions, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion. However, the Court DENIES Defendant's request for attorneys' fees.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff is a California-based textile company. Pl.'s Statement of Uncontroverted Facts (“Pl.'s SUF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 47-1. Plaintiff creates artwork and purchases the rights to artwork, which it then uses to create fabric that it sells to its customers. Id. ¶¶ 2-3. Plaintiff developed the design at issue in this Action, 1461 - Crochet emb. (“1461 Design” or “Subject Design”), using a compilation of source artwork. Def.'s Statement of Uncontroverted Facts (“Def.'s SUF”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 57-6. On October 24, 2013, Plaintiff received copyright registration VAu 1-151-509 (the “‘509 Registration”) for the Subject Design, which was included in a group of designs. Decl. of Gabriela Rivera in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. (“Rivera Decl.”), Ex. 4, ECF No. 57-1.

         In 2014, Defendant began working on a garment design with its vendor, Reliable Industrial Ltd. (“Reliable”), which is based in Hong Kong. Def.'s SUF ¶ 35, 37. By August 21, 2014, Defendant had reviewed a fabric sample from Reliable, developed a design incorporating the fabric, and sent Reliable instructions for the production of garments (the “Accused Garments”). Id. ¶ 37. The fabric sample was sourced from Reliable's vendor, Xinhong Weaving Industrial, Co., Ltd. (“Xinhong”), which is located in China. Id. ¶ 35. Xinhong had sold a similar fabric, QT 780, in June 2013. Id. ¶ 36. Reliable completed production of the Accused Garments and began shipping them to Defendant in March 2016.

         On January 15, 2016, Plaintiff, in an unrelated action, sued Sanctuary Clothing, LLC (“Sanctuary”) for copyright infringement of the 1461 Design based on the ‘509 Registration. Id. ¶ 9 (citing Gold Value Int'l Textile, Inc. v. Sanctuary Clothing, LLC, No. LACV1600339JAKFFMX, 2017 WL 3477746 (C.D. Cal. May 12, 2017)). Sanctuary sought invalidation of the ‘509 Registration based on Plaintiff's misrepresentation to the Copyright Office that the work was unpublished. Id. ¶ 10. After cross-motions for summary judgment and confirmation from the Copyright Office that it would have refused registration of the 1461 Design if the Copyright Office had been aware that the 1461 Design had been previously published, the court found the ‘509 Registration invalid on May 12, 2017. Id. ¶¶ 11-14.

         On June 9, 2016, Plaintiff's counsel filed a second application to register the 1461 Design. Id. ¶ 7. In this application, Plaintiff's counsel did not disclose that the 1461 Design is a derivative work based on preexisting source art. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff received copyright registration VA 2-006-252 (the “‘252 Registration”) for the Subject Design, effective June 9, 2016. Rivera Decl., Ex. 6.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed its Complaint [1] on September 23, 2016, alleging copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and contributory copyright infringement based on the ‘509 Registration. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 508, Plaintiff filed its Report on the Filing of an Action Regarding a Copyright [5] on September 23, 2016, which named the ‘509 Registration as the copyright at issue. Plaintiff then filed another Report on the Filing of an Action Regarding a Copyright [26] on June 6, 2017, which named the ‘252 Registration.

         Plaintiff filed its Motion [39] on February 27, 2018. Defendant filed its Opposition [47] to Plaintiff's Motion on March 13, 2018. Defendant then filed its Motion [57] on March 27, 2018. Plaintiff filed its Opposition [64] to Defendant's Motion on April 10, 2018. The parties filed their respective Replies [74, 75] on April 24, 2018.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         1. Summary Judgment

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) states that a “court shall grant summary judgment” when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” A fact is “material” for purposes of summary judgment if it might affect the outcome of the suit, and a “genuine” issue exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The evidence, and any inferences based on underlying facts, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. MCA, Inc., 715 F.2d 1327, 1328-29 (9th Cir. 1983). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court's function is not to weigh the evidence, but only to determine if a genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         Where the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant need only prove that there is no evidence to support the nonmovant's case. In re Oracle Corp. Secs. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010). If the movant satisfies this burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmovant to produce admissible evidence showing a triable issue of fact. Id.; Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp., 526 U.S. 795, 805-06 (1999) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).

         2. Summary Adjudication

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 authorizes courts to grant partial summary judgment to limit the issues to be tried in a case. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Geary, 699 F.Supp. 756, 759 (N.D. Cal. 1987) (citing Lies v. Farrell Lines, Inc., 641 F.2d 765, 769 n.3 (9th Cir. 1981)); see, e.g., White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1240 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[A] court may award a partial summary judgment that decides only [the] issue [of liability].”). Absent special circumstances, partial summary judgment is not appealable prior to the entry of a final judgment because such orders do not dispose of all claims or end the litigation on the merits. Williamson v. UNUM Life Ins. Co. of Am., 160 F.3d 1247, 1250 (9th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted).

         B. Analysis

         1. Request for Judicial Notice

         Defendant, in its Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion, requests that the Court take judicial notice of various filings in a prior case, which focused on the ‘509 Registration and the 1461 Design. See Def.'s Request for Judicial Notice, ECF No. 47-3. A district court may take judicial notice under Federal Rule of Evidence 201 of “undisputed matters of public record, including documents on file in federal or state courts.” Harris v. Cty. of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal citation omitted). The documents of which Defendant seeks judicial notice are all filings that are a matter of public record in the Central District of California, and therefore, the Court GRANTS Defendant's request and takes judicial notice of Exhibits 12 through 23.

         2. Evidentiary Objections

         Plaintiff objects to evidence Defendant submitted in connection with its Motion and its Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion. See ECF Nos. 64-7, 74-1. Defendant objects to evidence Plaintiff submitted in support of its Motion. See ECF No. 47-2. The parties' objections are primarily “boilerplate and devoid of any specific argument or analysis as to why any particular exhibit or assertion in a declaration should be excluded, ” and therefore, the Court OVERRULES each of these objections. See Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals, Inc., 907 F.Supp.2d 1080, 1081 (N.D. Cal. 2012) (“This Court need not address boilerplate evidentiary objections that the parties themselves deem unworthy of development, and the Court accordingly summarily overrules the objections.” (internal citations omitted)). “To the extent that the Court relied on objected-to evidence, [the Court] relied only on admissible evidence” and therefore, ...


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