Court Restricts UFC Federal Piracy Lawsuit To One Year Limitation

Few properties ares subject to more aggressive piracy prosecution that UFC’s Pay Per View products.  Reasons for judgement were released this month by the United States District Court, D. Colorado significantly restricting the timelines for these lawsuits in that jurisdiction.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. CJ’s Sports Bar, LLC)  the Plaintiff sued the Defendant alleging they showed UFC 134 in a commercial establishment without authorization.  They sued alleging the tort of conversion and also under federal statues prohibiting cable and satellite signal theft (the federal claims being the most heavy handed claims used in UFC piracy lawsuits).

The Court found that the federal claims were brought too late.  In short the federal statutes allowing these lawsuits to proceed do not have a limitation period and the Court had to determine the applicable period.   The general rule in such situations is for the Federal Court to look to the most analogous State statute in the jurisdiction of the lawsuit and borrow its limitation period.  Here the Court looked to the Colorado Cable Piracy Act and borrowed its one year limitation period and dismissed these claims.  The Court allowed the “novel” tort conversion claim to proceed and remanded it the State’s district Court.  In limiting the federal claims to a one year limitation period the Court provided the following reasons:

the Court finds that plaintiff’s federal claims are subject to a one-year statute of limitations.  The parties do not dispute that plaintiff’s federal claims accrued on August 27, 2011, when defendants allegedly aired the protected programming. Docket No. 5 at 11; Docket No. 8 at 7. Plaintiff filed this case on August 16, 2013. Docket No. 1-1 at 3. As plaintiff filed this case more than one year after its federal claims accrued, its federal claims are time barred.

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Addendum September 30, 2014 – Reasons were released in a similar prosecution earlier this month in Illinois going through the same exercise (Joe Hand Promotions v. Mooney’s Pub) finding that in that state, the Illinois Cable Piracy Act was the most analogous State Statute which was subject to a 5 year limitation period and adopted this.

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Addendum October 21, 2014 – Reasons were released in a similar prosecution this month in Missouri (Joe Hand Promotions v. Turntine) finding in that State, the Missouri Revised Statute 516.130 was the most analogous statute which provides a 3 year limitation period and adopted this.

 

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