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Lewis Brisbois Obtains Defense Jury Verdict in Copyright Case for Major Hotel Chain

W. Palm Beach, Fla. (July 26, 2019) – A team led by Miami Managing Partner Todd R. Ehrenreich, Atlanta Partner Jonathan D. Goins and Miami Partner David Luck recently secured a defense verdict for their client, Hyatt Corporation, in a copyright infringement matter before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Messrs. Ehrenreich, Goins and Luck were assisted by Associates Jenna L. Fischman and John T. Rose.

The plaintiff in the case, Kinon Surface Design, Inc., is a manufacturing company based in Boynton Beach, Florida, which produces hand-cast resin surface designs in various decorative patterns that are applied to walls, cabinetry, and furniture at high-end luxury locations. Kinon has both a patent for the resin-mixing process of its designs, as well as several copyrights for the decorative finished surface patterns.

In August 2018, Kinon brought suit against Hyatt Corporation for alleged infringement of one of its copyrighted surface patterns. The plaintiff accused the Fortune 500 hotel chain of displaying certain photographs that had included bedroom wall-covering designs of the “Grand Hyatt Dalian” hotel in China, which it believed were similar to one of its copyrighted surface patterns. In response, we denied any infringement by our client and asserted a number of defenses. Less than a year after commencing suit, Judge Middlebrooks (USDC-SD Fla.) ordered the parties to trial on July 22, 2019.  

After a three-day trial, an eight-person jury returned a verdict in our client’s favor, finding that Hyatt Corporation had not committed copyright infringement. The court also excluded any claim for vicarious infringement or purported evidence of disgorgement of profits. The result is significant beyond the circumstances of this case, as a verdict for the plaintiff would have impacted the nature of advertising and the clearance rights’ process within the hotel, restaurant, and hospitality industry.

The case is Kinon Surface Designs, Inc. v. Hyatt Corporation, Case No. 9:18-CV-81065 (S.D. Fla.).


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