Litigation Alert - Federal Copyright Law Preempts State Law Breach of Confidence and Implied Contract Claims for Unauthorized Use of Works


On June 3, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that federal copyright law preempts common law breach of confidence and implied contract claims in situations where plaintiffs attempt to retain rights to share profits and credit in the underlying works. Montz v. Pilgrim Films, Inc., No. 08-56954, 2010 WL 2197421 (9th Cir. June 3, 2010). The Pilgrim Films decision appears to narrow the basis upon which plaintiffs may bring state law claims for protection of ideas. Where plaintiff attempts to retain control over his or her work by seeking a partnership or similar ongoing arrangement with defendants involving the sharing of profits and credit, then the rights asserted are equivalent to the rights of copyrights owners and are preempted.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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