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IP Alert UPDATE: Supreme Court Limits Scope of Taxable Costs in Copyright Cases

March 4, 2019

UPDATE: Today, in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., a unanimous Supreme Court held that the “full costs” language of 17 U.S.C. § 505 is indeed limited to enumerated taxable costs under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920 and 1821. In doing so, the Court overturned a previous ruling in which Remini Street was ordered to pay Oracle $12.8 million in nontaxable litigation expenses, after losing a copyright case brought by Oracle.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had held that the term “full costs” allows a successful litigant to recover not only the enumerated statutory costs, but also nontaxable litigation costs, such as expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting expenses. Other appellate courts reached the opposite conclusion. Resolving this dispute, the Supreme Court concluded that the modifier “full” simply served to confirm that a successful litigant can recover all categories of enumerated costs, but did not pertain to litigation expenses beyond those.

The decision is significant because it will apply to all copyright cases that are litigated to a final judgment. For more information, please contact any member of Fitch Even’s copyrights team.

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