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Archive for the ‘Judge Robert Hinkle (FL)’ Category

These kind of c-rated b-rated film lawsuits annoy me. Take our new copyright troll production company, Tomcat Films, LLC and their attorney Martin Sipple of Ausley & McMullen (you can read about his medical malpractice and generic intellectual property cases here). I would consider calling Martin Sipple a copyright troll, but no — he has only filed one case, and he seems to be a copycat lawyer who used a copyright lawsuit template to file his lawsuit. Way to go for someone who graduated top of his class.

In the Tomcat Films, LLC v. Does 1-XXX (Case No. 4:12-cv-00261) case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tomcat has sued hundreds of John Doe Defendants (they forgot to list who) in the typical copyright troll fashion in order to recoup the wasted funds in their “Aliens vs. Avatars” 2011 failed film. I don’t even recall seeing this in theaters, but according to Aliens vs. Avatars, a new copyright troll film.” target=”_blank”>IMDb, it achieved a “we wasted everyone’s time and money making this” 1.5 out of 10 stars from 904 users. And, if anyone wants to pay $2.99, they can rent it from Amazon.com for 7 days. After reading the description of the film, “Six college friends find themselves caught up in a cat and mouse hunt with a race of creatures…” I decided to pass.

Another reason I might hesitate to call them copyright trolls is because in the complaint, while Tomcat Films alleges copyright infringement among the usual other elements in their complaint, they seem to want to stop the ongoing infringement of their film (something we don’t see in other lawsuits). I can respect that. What I cannot respect is the “let’s sue hundreds of Does and extort thousands of dollars from each one” approach. This is a reputable firm with reputable clients — in my opinion they have no business filing these kinds of low-life copyright troll cases.

Now as far as Tomcat Films’ other movies (see them here), I would consider thinking twice before downloading them because this company has obviously found the business model of “releasing low budget films and suing for loads of cash” quite appealing.  Quite frankly, with movie titles such as “Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood,” “Captain Battle” (think Captain America), “Rise of the Black Bat” (think Batman), “Thunderstorm of Thor,” and “Jurassic Shark,” and “Street Fighter,” I am surprised that a company like this is not entangled in a whole SLEW of copyright infringement lawsuits themselves.  I would guess “FAIR USE” and “PARODY” are words that are posted on every wall of their office.

UPDATE: The film is now called “Alien vs. Alien” on their website, and all mention of “Avatar” has been removed from their trailer (although it is still up on Amazon.com).  Apparently 20th Century Fox’s lawyers didn’t like the use of their Avatar character in Tomcat’s movies.  

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With a bit of legal humor, as most of you now know, Judge Robert Hinkle of the Florida Northern District Court dismissed each and every one of Terik Hashmi’s cases today.

As we discussed back in February, Judge Hinkle consolidated and froze all of Terik Hashmi’s bittorrent cases because he learned that Terik was practicing law while residing in Florida state without having a Florida state law license.

As a result of the “order to show cause” order that the judge issued [which is generally an indication that the case is imminently about to go bust], Terik Hashmi withdrew from representing his cases, and Mike Meier conveniently took over as the attorney for the plaintiffs hoping Hashmi’s Unauthorized Practice of Law misstep would be forgotten. The judge wasn’t impressed with Meier’s explanation of why the case should not be dismissed, and Terik Hashmi wrote the court an “I’m sorry” letter, reiterating Meier’s legal points as to why the case should move forward notwithstanding Terik’s error. The judge was still not impressed, and thus he ordered that each of Terik Hashmi’s cases be immediately dismissed.

It appears as if the fact that Terik Hashmi was caught practicing law without a license once before was what sealed his fate. The last time he was caught, he signed a cease-and-desist affidavit, where he “swore that he understood that holding himself out as authorized to practice law in Florida would constitute contempt of the Florida Supreme Court and a THIRD-DEGREE FELONY.” [I couldn’t help but to find some dry irony in that the attorney for Third Degree Films, Inc. might be guilty of a Third Degree Felony.]

In short, the judge could have slapped Hashmi with sanctions, and he could have made his life quite a bit more miserable than it already probably is (considering the fact that he could face felony charges for these cases).

In sum, the judge dismissed the lawsuits without prejudice, meaning that if the plaintiffs wish to re-file these lawsuits, they can do so, but they’ll have to pay the filing fees to start everything from scratch. “Under these circumstances,” the judge points out, “requiring the plaintiffs to start over and do it right is not too harsh a sanction.”

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