Cornice & Rose International, LLC v. Four Keys

Docket Number: 22-1976
Judge: Per Curiam
Opinion Date: August 11, 2023

The Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990 (AWCPA)1 extended copyright protection to “architectural works,” defined in 17 U.S.C. Section 101 as “the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings.” The principal question raised by this appeal is whether First Security Bank & Trust Company (the “Bank”), which purchased an uncompleted building in a sale approved by the bankruptcy court in the property owner’s Chapter 7 liquidation proceeding, infringed the architect’s copyright in the building by completing the building without the permission of the building’s architect, Cornice & Rose (“C&R”).
The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court there was no actionable infringement because C&R’s infringement claims are precluded by the bankruptcy court’s order approving the sale. The court explained that C&R makes no showing on appeal that the district court would have reached a different result (i.e., denied summary judgment) had it been allowed to file a sur-reply. In other words, the argument is entirely procedural. Further, it ignores that sur-replies are viewed with disfavor and that a party appealing the denial of leave to file a discretionary pleading has a heavy burden to prove that the adverse procedural ruling mattered. Here, even if C&R’s contention that DSC and WWA raised new or additional arguments in the supplemental affidavit is fairly debatable. Thus, the court concluded that the denial of permission to file the requested sur-reply in a thoroughly litigated case was a textbook example of harmless error. View “Cornice & Rose International, LLC v. Four Keys” on Justia Law

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