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Dismissal of Digital Millennium Copyright Act Claim Affirmed and Reversed in Part

By FindLaw Staff on July 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

MGE UPS Sys., Inc. v. GE Csmr. & Indus. Inc., No. 08-10521, involved plaintiff's appeal from the district court's Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a) dismissal of its Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim, and defendants' cross-appeal from the damages and injunctive relief awarded against them.  The court of appeals affirmed in part on the ground that plaintiff failed to show that bypassing its "dongle" infringed a right protected by the Copyright Act, because the dongle merely prevented initial access to the software at issue.  However, the court reversed in part, holding that 1) the district court erred in denying defendant's Rule 50(a) motion on plaintiff's copyright infringement claims because plaintiff failed to show damages under section 504(b) of the Copyright Act; and 2) defendants did not have the burden of demonstrating which portions of their revenue were not attributable to plaintiff's state law unfair competition claims.

As the court wrote:  "MGE UPS Systems, Inc. ("MGE") appeals the district court's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) dismissal of its Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") claim against Power Maintenance International, Inc. ("PMI");  General Electric Company ("GE");  GE Consumer and Industrial, Inc.;   and GE Industrial Systems, Inc. (collectively, "GE/PMI").   MGE also appeals the district court's denial of prejudgment interest on MGE's damages award.   GE/PMI cross-appeals on four grounds:  (1) whether the district court erred in dismissing GE/PMI's Rule 50(a) motion because MGE failed to present evidence of damages, or in the alternative, whether the district court erred in dismissing GE/PMI's Rule 50(b) motion because the $4.6 million jury award was not a reasonable calculation of damages;  (2) whether MGE impermissibly double-recovered damages;  (3) whether the parties had a tolling agreement in place that permitted MGE to recover damages prior to December 17, 2001;  and (4) whether the district court erred in granting MGE injunctive relief against GE/PMI."

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