Joe Hand Promotions Sues Fishbowl Pub and its Owners for Unlawful Interception and Broadcast of UFC Fight

Indianapolis, Indiana – Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. of Feasterville, Pennsylvania has sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Timothy H. Fishburn of Marion County, Indiana; David M. Rickelman of Morgan County, Indiana and MWCC, Inc. d/b/a Fishbowl Pub At Midwest Sports Complex of Indianapolis, Indiana unlawfully intercepted and broadcast the Ultimate Fighting Championship “Aldo v. Hominick” Program.

JHP-logo.pngJoe Hand Promotions was granted rights to distribute via closed-circuit television and encrypted satellite signal the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”) “Aldo vs. Hominick” fight (“the Program”), which was telecast nationwide on April 30, 2011.

In the complaint against Fishburn, Rickelman and Fishbowl Pub, intellectual property counsel for Joe Hand Promotions has alleged such wrongful acts as interception, reception, publication, divulgence, display, exhibition, and “tortuous” [sic] conversion of the Program.

In addition to naming the separate legal entity, MWCC, Inc., which apparently owns Fishbowl Pub, Plaintiff has also sued Fishburn and Rickelman as individuals, claiming that they own MWCC and that they had the right and ability to supervise the activities of Fishbowl Pub. Plaintiff asserts that those activities included the unlawful interception of its Program. It further claims that Fishbowl Pub and its owners received financial benefit from the unlawful display of the Program.

Defendants have been accused of violating 47 U.S.C. § 605 and 47 U.S.C. § 553. The complaint also lists a count of conversion. Joe Hand Productions seeks statutory damages of $110,000 for each willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605; $60,000 for each willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553; compensatory damages on the claim of conversion; and costs and attorney’s fees. These claims have been made both against Fishbowl Pub and as personal liability claims against the owners.

Practice Tip #1: Among its assertions of wrongdoing, Joe Hand Productions has alleged interception of the Program under 47 U.S.C. § 605, which is a different cause of action from copyright infringement.

Practice Tip #2: When Congress passed the Cable Communication Act, a statute of limitations was not included. Some federal courts have determined that a two-year statute of limitation is appropriate while other federal courts have used a three-year statute of limitations. The alleged wrongdoing here occurred on April 30, 2011. If the court interprets the interception claim to have a two-year statute of limitations, this may pose a problem for the Plaintiff, as the complaint was filed on October 15, 2013.

Practice Tip #3: It is unclear precisely what unlawful act is being alleged in this complaint. In the paragraph 12, it is asserted that Defendants wrongfully intercepted and broadcast the UFC “Aldo vs. Hominick” fight. However, in paragraph 32, the Plaintiff requests a finding of unauthorized exhibition of the “St-Pierre v. Sheilds Broadcast,” which is presumably a different program.

Overhauser Law Offices, the publisher of this website, has represented several hundred persons and businesses accused of infringing satellite signals.

This complaint was filed by Matthew E. Dumas of Hostetter & O’Hara. The case was assigned to District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt and Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore in the Southern District of Indiana and assigned Case No. 1:13-cv-01644-TWP-MJD.


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