The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has sued two men for copyright infringement related to an allegedly sold and destroyed Oscar. The complaint (read it here) says that John Dunne sold Edgard Francisco “an ©”Oscar”® statuette that was either a genuine statuette lost to theft or a very convincing counterfeit.” Dunne sold the contested Oscar to Francisco for $25,000. When the buyer determined soon afterwards that the statuette was a fake, he tossed it and got a $15,000 refund from the seller. In requesting a jury trial, the Academy, who filed its action in Seattle, says Dunne’s “unfair and deceptive act has caused the Academy damages in an amount to be determined at trial.” Those damages could range from $25,000 to over $75,000 based on what the value of the statuette could be assessed, fake and real. They are also seeking legal costs and lawyer’s fees. The Academy claims the statuette was or purported to be the Oscar that Aaron Rochin won in 1979 for his sound work on The Deer Hunter. Rochin returned the Oscar for a new one because it was “blemished.” The returned one went missing and has never been accounted for. And still isn’t — because Francisco destroyed it.
Still, the Academy is determined to enforce its copyright. “If the Statuette was a counterfeit, defendants have infringed the Academy’s copyright in the ©”Oscar”® statuette by selling and distributing a counterfeit statuette. If the Statuette was authentic, defendants have committed conversion by asserting dominion over the Academy’s property and interfering with the Academy’s right to possession of its property,” says the suit. According to the complaint, Dunne says he picked up the statuette in a moving sale and had the Oscar up on eBay earlier in the year but took it down after the Academy contacted him. He later sold it privately to Francisco. Which he should not have done, says the Academy’s complaint, because “almost all ©”Oscar”® statuettes are subject to a right-of-first-refusal agreement, giving the Academy the right to repurchase any statuette offered for sale for $1 to $10.”
Today the court scheduled the parties a January 2, 2013 deadline to come up with a joint status report and discovery plan for the case. If the two sides haven’t reached a settlement by then, this report/plan will determine out how long this matter will be before the courts. The court also wrapped the Academy’s knuckles for not including a “Patent/Trademark/Copyright Report” in its initial filing.
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