United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Barry Fischer United States District Judge.
before the Court in this matter is a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint Pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by Defendant Eddy
Homes, Inc. (Docket No. 9). Having considered Plaintiff's
First Amended Complaint, (Docket No. 6); Defendant's
motion to dismiss and supporting briefing, (Docket Nos. 9,
10); Plaintiff's response in opposition, (Docket No. 13);
Defendant's reply, (Docket No. 15); the parties'
supplemental briefing, (Docket Nos. 17, 18); and oral
argument presented by the parties on October 28, 2016,
(Docket No. 20),  Defendant Eddy Homes, Inc.'s motion to
dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff's claim for copyright
infringement will be dismissed with prejudice, and
Plaintiff's claim for unfair competition will be
dismissed without prejudice. However, the Court will decline
to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's claim for unfair competition.
copyright infringement case arises out of Defendant's
promotional activities in electronic and print media. The
following facts are alleged in the First Amended Complaint,
which the Court will accept as true for the sole purpose of
deciding the pending motion.
operates a kitchen and bath design business, and Defendant is
a residential home builder. (Docket No. 6 at ¶¶
1-2). In April 2013, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling (“the
Sterlings”) hired Plaintiff and Defendant to construct
their home in McMurray, Pennsylvania. (Id. at
¶¶ 3-4). Defendant constructed the exterior and
interior walls, and installed the plumbing and electrical
systems. (Id. at ¶ 3). After Defendant
completed the exterior construction, Plaintiff designed and
installed, without any assistance from Defendant, all
interior spaces of the home. (Id. at ¶¶
4-5). The interior spaces included the master bathroom, the
basement bathroom, the basement bar, the basement fireplace,
the powder room, the laundry room, the bedroom closets, the
kitchen, and the mudroom. (Id. at ¶ 4).
Plaintiff is the owner of the copyright in the design of the
interior of the Sterlings' home. (Id. at ¶
October 2015, photographs of the interior of the
Sterlings' home, which were published in the Kitchen and
Bath Design News periodical, credited Defendant and its
design coordinator, Cristinia Palamides, for the work.
(Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff also discovered the
photographs on Defendant's website and on several social
media websites. (Id. at ¶ 8). In January 2016,
the photographs were published in Whirl Magazine.
(Id. at ¶ 10). Plaintiff was not given design
credit on the websites or in the periodicals in which the
photographs were published. (Id. at ¶ 9-10).
registered a copyright for the design of the interior of the
Sterlings' home on March 2, 2016. (Id. at ¶
11). After the photographs were published in the March/April
2016 edition of Housetrends Magazine, Defendant received a
Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh Award.
(Id. at ¶ 12). Defendant has refused to remove
the photographs from its website or, in the alternative, to
credit Plaintiff for the design and construction of the
interior designs depicted. (Id. at ¶ 13).
filed this action on May 11, 2016. (Docket No 1). In its
First Amended Complaint, filed on June 22, 2016, Plaintiff
asserts claims against Defendant for copyright infringement
and for unfair competition. (Docket No. 6 at ¶¶
17-43). On July 1, 2016, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss
and supporting briefing. (Docket Nos. 9, 10). After Plaintiff
filed a response, (Docket No. 13), Defendant filed a reply,
(Docket No. 15). Pursuant to the Court's October 14, 2016
Order, the parties filed supplemental briefs to address the
impact of Landrau v. Solis-Betancourt, 554 F.Supp.2d
102 (D.P.R. 2007). (Docket Nos. 16, 17, 18). The parties
argued their positions at a hearing held on October 28, 2016.
(Docket No. 20). On November 14, 2016, the Court stayed this
matter pending the disposition of a settlement conference
before Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan. (Docket No. 24).
After the parties were unable to resolve the case, the Court
lifted the stay on December 15, 2016. (Docket Nos. 28, 29).
This matter is now ripe for disposition.
reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must “‘accept
all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine
whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the
plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'” Eid v.
Thompson, 740 F.3d 118, 122 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233
(3d Cir. 2008)). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge, the
plaintiff's “‘[f]actual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (2007). “Thus, ‘only a complaint
that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679).
the Court must accept the allegations in the complaint as
true, “‘[it is] not compelled to accept
unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, or a
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'”
Morrow v. Balaski, 719 F.3d 160, 165 (3d Cir. 2013)
(quoting Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d
Cir. 2007)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Instead, the plaintiff
must plead facts which permit the court to make a reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556-57; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
with these principles, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has
prescribed a three-step analysis for purposes of determining
whether a claim is plausible. First, the court should
“outline the elements a plaintiff must plead to a state
a claim for relief.” Bistrian v. Levi, 696
F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012). Second, the court should
“peel away” legal conclusions that are not
entitled to the assumption of truth. Id.; see
also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (“While legal
conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations.”). Third, the
court should assume the veracity of all well-pled factual
allegations and then “‘determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'”
Bistrian, 696 F.3d at 365 (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679). This third step of the analysis is
“‘a context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679).