Hammond & South Bend, Indiana – An attorney for J & J Sports Productions, Inc., of
Campbell, California filed two Indiana intellectual property lawsuits alleging illegal interception of programming.
The first lawsuit was filed in South Bend, Indiana. It alleges that Juan C. Aguirre, Beatriz Zarate, Graciela Valles and Taqueria Los Gallos, Inc. of Logansport, Indiana illegally intercepted satellite signals and broadcast the “Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. v. Sergio Martinez WBC Middleweight Championship Fight” Program. The second lawsuit alleged illegal interception of another program, “Knockout Kings: Canelo Alvarez v. Josesito Lopez Championship Fight” Program. This lawsuit was filed in Hammond, Indiana and listed Richard Serrano and Agave Mexican Restaurant of Hobart, Indiana as Defendants. Both Programs were broadcast on Saturday, September 15, 2012.
J & J Sports states that it is the exclusive domestic commercial distributor of the Programs. It has sued multiple Defendants both individually and doing business as commercial entities under the Communications Act of 1934 and The Cable & Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992.
Specifically, Defendants have been accused of violating 47 U.S.C. § 605 and 47 U.S.C. § 553 by displaying the Programs at issue on September 15, 2012 without a commercial license. Regarding the claim under 47 U.S.C. § 605, the Complaints allege that with “full knowledge” that the Program was not to be intercepted, received, and exhibited without authorization, “each and every one of the above named defendants . . . did unlawfully … exhibit the Program” for the purpose of commercial advantage and/or private financial gain.
A count of conversion is also included. It asserts that Defendants’ acts were “willful, malicious, egregious, and intentionally designed to harm Plaintiff J & J Sports.” In the Complaint against Agave, J & J Sports asserts that, as a result of being deprived of their commercial license fee, J & J Sports suffered “severe economic distress and great financial loss.”
In addition to naming the separate legal entities which apparently owns the restaurants in question, Plaintiff has also sued the individuals alleging that they had the right and ability to supervise the activities of the restaurants. J & J Sports asserts that the activities that they supervised included the unlawful interception of Plaintiff’s program. J & J Sports contends that the individual Defendants specifically directed the employees of the restaurants to unlawfully intercept and broadcast Plaintiff’s program at the commercial establishments or, if they did not, that the actions of the employees of the restaurants are directly imputable to the individuals by virtue of their purported responsibility for the activities of their respective restaurants.
In the Complaints, the intellectual property attorney for J & J Sports listed the following counts and requests for redress:
•Count I: Violation of Title 47 U.S.C. § 605. For this count, J & J Sports requests (a) statutory damages for each willful violation in an amount to $100,000.00 [$110,000 in the Complaint against Agave], and (b) the recovery of all costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.
•Count II: Violation of Title 47 U.S.C. § 553. For this count, J & J Sports asks the court for (a) statutory damages; (b) additional statutory damages for each willful violation; (c) the recovery of all costs; and (d) and in the discretion of the court, reasonable attorneys’ fees. [A total of $50,000 was requested as against Taqueria Los Gallos on this Count, while a total of $60,000 was requested as against Agave.]
•Count III: Conversion. For this count, the court is requested to order both compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants as the result of the Defendants’ allegedly egregious conduct, theft, and conversion of the program and deliberate injury to J & J Sports.
Practice Tip #1: The interception claim has a two-year statute of limitations, which explains why these complaints were filed on September 11, 2014, almost exactly two years after the broadcast date of the Programs at issue. J & J Sports and similar plaintiffs are frequent litigants, filing thousands of lawsuits per year, usually seeking a settlement instead of litigation. It appears that many of them are also filed near the eve of the two-year anniversary of the broadcast of the program at issue in each individual lawsuit.
Practice Tip #2: Most of these intellectual property lawsuits, including similar complaints filed by Joe Hand Promotions, are initiated with cut-and-paste complaints, leading to not-infrequent, and sometimes odd, errors. In this set of complaints, the same misspelling of “Agave Mexican Restuarant [sic]”occurred 16 times; J & J Sports was listed as “a California corporation with its principal place of liquor [sic] located [in California].” In turn, the complaint against Taqueria Los Gallos includes “page PAGE 7” [sic] at the bottom of each page, an error we first noticed in a November 2013 complaint filed on behalf of Joe Hand Promotions.
The suits were filed by Charlie W. Gordon of Greene & Cooper LLP. The case against Aguirre has not yet been assigned a Judge and Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of Indiana but was assigned Case No. 3:14-cv-01186. The case against Serrano was assigned to Judge James T. Moody and Magistrate Judge John Martin in the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division and assigned Case No. 2:14-cv-00331-JTM-JEM.