DENVER (CN) – The geographic reach of the Internet was amplified by a 10th Circuit finding that a Colorado court has jurisdiction over claims that fabric prints being auctioned by two eBay “power sellers” did not infringe on famous images by artist Erté.
Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts and SevenArts Ltd. saw the auction page and recognized the prints as plays on Erté’s “Symphony in Black” and “Ebony on White” images, to which they own copyrights.
“While Erté’s images depict elegant women walking aquiline dogs, plaintiffs’ prints portray Betty Boop next to her aptly named canine companion, Pudgy,” the ruling states.
The sellers, Denver residents Karen Dudnikov and Michael Meadors, filed a non-infringement lawsuit in Colorado after defendants had their auction suspended.
Defendants are a Delaware company and a British company with no ties to Colorado. They successfully moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The appeals court reversed, finding that defendants’ actions affected the plaintiffs’ auction in Colorado.
Judge Gorsuch likened it to a bank shot in basketball: “A player who shoots the ball off of the backboard intends to hit the backboard, but he does so in the service of his further intention of putting the ball into the basket. Here, defendants intended to send the (notice of infringement) to eBay in California, but they did so with the ultimate purpose of canceling plaintiffs’ auction in Colorado.” See ruling.