Class Action Lawsuits Involving Copyright and Trademark Infringement Claims did not Warrant Pretrial Coordination Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Holds
Four class action lawsuits were filed against several defendants alleging various copyright and trademark infringement claims involving “different copyrights and trademarks owned by different entities and covering different movie and cartoon characters.” In re Movie Artwork Copyright Litig., 473 F.Supp.2d 1381, 1382 (Jud. Pan.Mult.Lit. February 7, 2007). Defense lawyers for certain defendants in the class actions moved the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) to centralize the lawsuits for pretrial purposes in the Central District of California. Id. Plaintiffs in all four class action lawsuits opposed centralization. The Panel denied the defense motion, concluding that centralization was not warranted. Id. The Panel explained, “No common intellectual property is at issue. The asserted common factual questions identified by defendants appear to be either simply a generic listing of elements found in virtually every copyright and trademark infringement action, or issues that arise in any situation involving multiple actions brought against a common defendant or defendants.” Id. At bottom, the Judicial Panel held that “movants have failed to persuade us that any common questions of fact and law are sufficiently complex and/or numerous to justify Section 1407 transfer under the current circumstances.” Id.
NOTE: The Judicial Panel apparently was influenced by the fact that the class action pending in the Central District of California was set for trial in April 2007 and that centralization would likely result in postponement of the trial date. In re Movie Artwork, at 1382. Thus, the Panel opined that “[c]entralization would also likely delay the progress of one or more of the four actions,” id.