Sunday, May 22, 2011

Court Catch Up 2: In Which Pirates are Discussed

In CBB Group Inc. v. United States, the underlying issue has to do with plush toys that Customs and Border Protection detained as piratical copies. "Piratical" in this sense has nothing to do with Jack Sparrow or Black Beard. Rather, it refers to products the production of which, if made in the U.S., would constitute copyright infringement. So, DVDs holding a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, produced in China without the express written consent of Disney, would be piratical (in two senses).

This decision is entirely procedural. It involved another defense motion to stay discovery pending the Court's decision on a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Apparently, the government is so convinced that there is nothing to this case, that it does not want to bother with discovery. Rather, it thinks the Court of International Trade should dismiss.

This is one of those cases where the decision is basically entirely up to the discretion of the judge. Here, the Court points out that this case involves the refusal to admit merchandise and that the parties agreed to an expedited schedule. So, it should be moving quickly. Yet, at the time of the opinion, the merchandise was already held up by eight months. Given that, and the lack of any evidence of undue burden or expense to the government, the Court denied the motion to stay discovery. In other words, "All hands, make sail. Or, ye be keelhauled."

Which brings me to the other kind of pirates. I sat through the fourth Johnny Depp installment as the ambiguously everything pirate. Is he straight? Is he sober? Is he an idiot? It is humorously unclear. I might know the answer if I had seen the second and third movies. This one is mildly entertaining and, if I tried to sort through it, might make absolutely no sense.  I do feel the need to go back and watch both "The Little Mermaid" and "Splash," because I think my image of our half-fish friends might have changed. The mermaids in the new movie are clearly not as friendly as Madison.

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