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Stromback v. New Line Cinema

384 F.3d 283 (2004)

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Stromback v. New Line Cinema

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

384 F.3d 283 (2004)

Facts

Douglas Stromback (plaintiff) wrote a poem, “The Keeper,” as well as a screenplay based on the poem. Stromback shared the poem and screenplay with two parties who passed copies along to New Line Cinema (defendant). After Stromback saw the movie Little Nicky, released by New Line Cinema, he concluded that its similarities to “The Keeper” were too substantial to be coincidence. Stromback brought suit in federal district court for copyright infringement, violation of the Lanham Act, and state-law claims that included commercial misappropriation, misappropriation of trade secrets, and interference with prospective economic advantage. The court granted summary judgment to New Line Cinema on all claims and dismissed the case, not only finding no significant similarities between the works, but also holding that the state-law claims were preempted by the federal Copyright Act. Stromback appealed the dismissal of his claims for commercial misappropriation, trade-secret misappropriation, and tortious interference. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Quist, J.)

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