The judge in Thomson Reuters’ copyright lawsuit against ROSS Intelligence has denied ROSS’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that TR’s allegations are sufficient to allow the case to be uncovered.
In a memorandum statement published yesterday, Delaware District Judge Leonard P. Stark ruled that TR had sufficiently asserted the four elements of a copyright claim: the original works that are the subject of the claim, ownership of the copyrights in those works that Registering with the US Copyright Office and the acts that allegedly infringe the copyright law.
Read the full statement on the memorandum.
Although ROSS argued in his dismissal motion that Westlaw content was not copyrighted as government information, Judge Stark said that under federal copyright law, a valid certificate of copyright registration is prima facie evidence of copyright validity.
See all the stories about this lawsuit.
TR’s complaint alleges that copyright is registered in the Westlaw database every three months, and more than 300 pages of previous registration certificates from 1981 to 2020 are attached.
Regarding ROSS’s argument that these materials are not copyrighted, Richter Stark wrote, “These are important and interesting questions that we will almost certainly be grappling with in a given case.”
However, he said they do not provide a basis for dismissing the lawsuit at this stage prior to discovery.
Judge Stark also ruled that TR had committed sufficient alleged acts which, if established, could prove that ROSS had infringed copyright. He cited TR’s claims that legal research firm LegalEase saw a 40-fold increase in its Westlaw usage after being hired by ROSS and downloaded significant amounts of information which, according to TR, was used by ROSS to develop its platform.
ROSS’s motion argued that before submitting its complaint, TR should have done a fuller fact-finding process, including re-engineering the ROSS platform to see how it was created and whether any materials were being copied. But Judge Stark also disagreed with this argument.
“Considering the totality of the allegations made against the defendant, assuming that they are true and drawing all reasonable conclusions in favor of the plausible, plausible violations are alleged in the complaint – namely that the defendants via LegalEase en masse illegal downloading of copyrighted Westlaw material operated This material was then used to develop the ROSS platform, ”wrote Richter Stark.
Judge Stark also denied ROSS’s motion to reject another count of TR’s complaint on the grounds that he alleged unauthorized interference with the contract, which ROSS said was not statute-barred.
He ruled that factual disputes between the parties made it unclear where the alleged violation occurred and therefore the state statute of limitations should apply.
In addition, he declined to dismiss the complaint because he had failed to adequately invoke the elements of a tort claim.
When asked to comment on the verdict, Ross co-founder Andrew Arruda said, “The court’s decision does not change anything. The court recognized that Ross raised “important and interesting questions” about the copyrights of Westlaw content. We look forward to proving our case. “
Last week, TR filed its own motion to dismiss, attempting to dismiss ROSS’s counterclaim that TR violated federal antitrust law by maintaining a monopoly over the legal research market.