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Robert J. Bernstein and Robert W. Clarida Robert J. Bernstein and Robert W. Clarida

On March 12, the Southern District of California granted summary judgment to defendants in Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. ComicMix, 16-CV-2779 JLS (BGS) (Slip op.), largely affirming its prior findings that a ComicMix illustrated book combining elements of several Seuss children’s books with characters, themes and other features of the popular sci-fi series Star Trek was a non-infringing fair use of the Seuss material from which it had admittedly been “slavishly” copied.

The defendants’ successful summary judgment motion was the fourth time they had tried to dispose of the case. The action was brought by Seuss in 2016, alleging both copyright and trademark claims. In response to defendants’ initial motion to dismiss, the court made a number of findings in defendants’ favor as to fair use in a June 9, 2017 ruling (ECF 38). Because the court found a “near-perfect balancing of the factors,” however, it declined to dismiss the copyright claims at such an early stage of the litigation. After the filing of an amended complaint, defendants again moved to dismiss on fair use grounds, and again the court denied the motion (ECF 51).

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