Heriot v. Byrne, No. 08 C 2272, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill., Jul. 21, 2008) (Conlon, J.).
Judge Conlon denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ copyright and related state law claims based upon forum non conveniens, Colorado River abstention, and for lack of standing. Plaintiffs alleged that they were co-owners of defendants’ copyrights in the popular books and movies associated with The Secret, a self-help program. Defendants previously filed a suit in Australia seeking a declaratory judgment that defendants owned the copyright in The Secret.
Forum Non Conveniens
The Court held that the Australian Court would not be able to resolve US copyright ownership, and, therefore, was not an adequate forum. Furthermore, much of the evidence for plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment and equitable accounting claims was located in the US, as were the key witnesses.
Colorado River Abstention
Although both suits focused on the same works, the Australian case did not include and would not resolve plaintiffs’ equitable claims for unjust enrichment and the equitable accounting. Because the Australian case would not resolve all issues in the US case, abstention was no appropriate.
The Court held that plaintiffs had standing to make its copyright claims because plaintiffs alleged copyright ownership in their complaint.