Seven Arts Filmed Entertainment waited too long to file copyright claims to the movies Rules of Engagement, An American Rhapsody and Who is Cletis Tout?, a federal appeals court held Wednesday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a copyright infringement claim is barred if the plaintiff waits longer than the three-year statute of limitations to seek ownership.
The ruling upholds the lower court in a 10-year battle between Seven Arts and Content Media Corp. and Paramount Pictures.
Seven Arts first pursued the claims in Canada and won a summary judgment in an unopposed action because the opposing company was in bankruptcy at the time, according to the court.
In 2005, Seven Arts sued Paramount for the first time and alleged the Canadian summary judgment established its ownership rights.
The claim was dismissed from Los Angeles federal court in 2011 because Seven Arts failed to make the claim within the three-year statute limit.
“We join our sister circuits [the 2nd and 6th] in holding that an untimely ownership claim will bar a claim for copyright infringement where the gravamen of the dispute is ownership,” wrote Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain.
He was joined by Judges Carlos Bea and Morgan Christen.
Case: Seven Arts v. Content Media, No. 11-56759