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FASHION COPYRIGHT DECISION VACATED NEW YORK � A federal judge did not “conduct the full analysis necessary” in declining to enforce, as contrary to the First Amendment, a judgment against a U.S. company that published photographs of French fashion creations on its Web site, an appellate court has ruled. “Because the record before us does not permit us to determine whether enforcement of the foreign judgments is repugnant to the public policy of New York, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings,” the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Sarl Louis Feraud Int’l v. Viewfinder, 05-5927-cv. Plaintiffs Sarl Louis Feraud International and S.A. Pierre Balmain are French fashion designers. Feraud and Balmain claim defendant Viewfinder, which operates a Web site called “firstVIEW.com,” posted photographs of its fashion shows. In January 2001, Feraud and Balmain, along with several other design houses, each filed suit against Viewfinder in the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris seeking money damages for alleged unauthorized use of their intellectual property and unfair competition. Viewfinder was served in New York in accordance with the Hague Convention on the Service of Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters. The U.S. company failed to respond to the complaint, and on May 2, 2001, the French court issued a default judgment against it. The tribunal ordered Viewfinder to remove the photographs and awarded damages of 500,000 francs — roughly $102,000 under current rates — for each plaintiff’s costs of the action, and a fine of 500,000 francs a day for each day it failed to comply with the judgment.

New York Law Journal

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