Porn Maker Malibu Media’s Lawsuit Filings Rise in February

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By Malathi Nayak

Adult film maker Malibu Media LLC returned to U.S. federal courts in February, after a three-month hiatus, with the largest monthly volume of copyright infringement suits it has filed in a year, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Malibu Media’s litigation blitz more than doubled the total number of all copyright infringement suits filed across federal courts to 451 in February from January. That number, however, is still down about 3 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.

Malibu Media, a top filer of copyright infringement suits over the last five years, filed 201 complaints in February, after filing no suits in January and December. The monthly surge in the company’s filing activity comes after its campaign to file complaints against illegal online downloads and distribution of its films appeared to have slowed down in 2016.

The three-month gap “isn’t reflective on Malibu’s intent to stop enforcing its rights,” Emilie Kennedy, an attorney at Pillar Law Group of Beverly Hills, Calif., who represents the company, said.

The break was a result of Malibu Media taking time to plan its lawsuits and work out schedules with its legal team, Kennedy said.

Malibu Media filed 747 cases in 2016 and1,956 suits in 2015, according to Bloomberg Law data. While some plaintiffs file copyright infringement complaints against multiple unknown defendants or “John Does” in the same suit, Malibu Media brings multiple complaints against each individual defendant.

In 2017, the rate of its lawsuit filings “will be fairly consistent with years past, certainly with 2016,” Kennedy said.

Overall, the total volume of intellectual property infringement complaints filed were up 29 percent in February from January but down 6 percent from a year ago, driven by a decline in patent infringement suit filings.

Plectrum Sues Facebook and Others

Patent infringement filings in February totaled 270 lawsuits, down 8 percent from January and about 12 percent from a year ago.

January and February tend to be slow months for patent infringement filings. Moreover, legal changes over the past few years have made it harder for patent licensing companies, also called non-practicing entities, to mount and win legal fights.

Even so, NPEs were some of the top filers of patent suits. Plectrum LLC filed the largest number of patent infringement suits, with 16 cases filed against companies including Facebook Inc., AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Oracle Corp.

Two patents that switched hands from Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP through an assignment to Plectrum in September were at the center of the suits. The patents are related to technology involving data transfer and transmission across hardware and software networks.

Most cases filed in Central District of California

Trademark complaints totaled 226 in February, down 5 percent from January and 6 percent lower compared with the same period a year ago, with counterfeit enforcement making up the bulk of docket activity.

Sream Inc., the U.S. licensee of Roor, a German maker of water pipes for smoking, and automaker BMW of North America were among the top filers of trademark suits in February.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California was the busiest IP court in January with 108 cases filed— more than half comprising copyright cases. The Eastern District of Texas saw the largest number of patent infringement suits filed—93 cases—up 33 percent from a year ago.

This year, the Supreme Court will address the hot-button issue of patent owners handpicking patentee-friendly courts for patent infringement cases. The court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC could create a shift in where patent holders can bring infringement suits and reduce the dominance of the Eastern District of Texas.

In February, Malibu Media filed the largest number of its cases in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. It first began filing suits in that jurisdiction last year.

The company is expected to file in one or two new district courts this year based on its analysis of the population and extent of infringement in new jurisdictions, Kennedy said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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