Raging Bull Supreme Court Decision

May 30, 2014

By: David Bernardoni

Glen Kulik represented the appellant before the United States Supreme Court in Petrella vs. MGM, which resulted in a a reversal in favor of the firm’s client in a copyright infringement case that many experts have heralded as one of the most significant copyright decisions in the past 50 years. Ms. Petrella’s father wrote the original screenplay for the famous motion picture Raging Bull and the copyright reverted to her family at the end of the initial 28 year copyright period. In the lawsuit she was seeking to prove that the continued exploitation of the movie by MGM infringed her copyright. The trial court held that there were disputed issues of fact on the substantive copyright issues but that she waited too long to bring the suit and thus it was barred by the doctrine of laches. The Supreme Court reversed and in so doing resolved a serious conflict between the various federal appellate court circuits and reversed the long-standing rule in the Ninth Circuit which had barred the action. The Court held that a copyright claim brought within the applicable three year statute of limitations cannot be barred by laches.

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