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78th Infantry Division v. Oprendek

78th Infantry Division v. Oprendek

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Published by Eric Goldman

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Published by: Eric Goldman on Aug 23, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 __________________________________________ :78TH INFANTRY DIVISION, WORLD WAR :II LIVING HISTORY ASSOCIATION,
: Civil No. 11-165 (RBK/JS):v. :
:J. GARY OPRENDEK, ::Defendant. : __________________________________________:
, United States District Judge:This matter arises out of the alleged unauthorized taking of a website domain and itscontents. Presently before the Court is a motion to remand filed by Plaintiff 78th InfantryDivision, World War II Living History Association (the “Association”). (Doc. No. 7). TheComplaint alleges state-law claims for breach of the duty of loyalty, conversion, trespass tochattels, tortious interference, and unjust enrichment. In January 2011, Defendant J. GaryOprendek filed a Notice of Removal, arguing that the Copyright Act preempts several of theAssociation’s state-law claims and the Court should therefore exercise federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (“Notice of Removal”). Defendant argued that the Courtshould exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Association’s non-preempted state-lawclaims. The Association argues that because the Complaint does not assert any federal claims onits face, the Court should decline to exercise federal question jurisdiction over this matter. For the following reasons, the Association’s motion to remand is
Case 1:11-cv-00165-RBK -JS Document 19 Filed 08/04/11 Page 1 of 13 PageID: 248
 The Association is a non-profit organization that provides World War II re-enactmentsand educates the public about World War II. (Notice of Removal Ex. A at 2). Defendant previously performed the work of a webmaster and website committee member for theAssociation. (Id.). In 2000, a former member of the Association created a website for theAssociation. (Id. at 3). In June 2003, the Association’s Commander purchased the domain name78thinfantry.com and paid the annual domain name fee. (Id.). Approximately three years later,Defendant joined the Association and volunteered to be the webmaster. (Id.). Subsequently,Defendant recommended that the Commander transfer the domain name 78thinfantry.com tohim, claiming that “the website needed more space” and that the website would be easier tomaintain under his control. (Id.). The Commander agreed, and Defendant took control of thewebsite domain and its contents. (Id.).In May 2009, Defendant resigned from the Association. Prior to his resignation,Defendant agreed to transfer the website back to the Association. (Id.). However, theAssociation alleges that Defendant refused to relinquish control of the website in violation of theAssociation’s bylaws, and then cancelled the domain name. As a result of Defendant’s conduct,the 78thinfantry.com domain name was released to the public without the Association’s consent.(Id.). Once the domain name became available for public purchase, Defendant purchased thedomain name and utilized content from the Association’s website to create a new World War IIwebsite for another organization (the 9th Division), which he formed with a group of former members of the Association. (Id. at 4). Defendant operated the 9th Division’s website under thedomain name 78thinfantry.com. (Id.). Thereafter, Defendant registered the website contents of 78thinfantry.com with the U.S. Copyright Office, effective July 1, 2009. (Answer and
Case 1:11-cv-00165-RBK -JS Document 19 Filed 08/04/11 Page 2 of 13 PageID: 249
3Countercl. Ex. A at 2). The registration application included text, software code, and graphicalelements taken from the Association’s website. (Id.).In November 2010, the Association filed the Complaint in the Superior Court of NewJersey. (Notice of Removal Ex. A). In January 2011, Defendant removed the matter to thisCourt pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Defendant asserted federal question jurisdiction pursuant to28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1338. (Notice of Removal 2-3). Defendant argued that theAssociation’s conversion, trespass to chattels, and breach of the duty of loyalty claims werecompletely preempted by § 301(a) of the Copyright Act. (Id. at 4). Defendant also argued thatthe Court should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Association’s tortious interferenceand unjust enrichment claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). (Id. at 3). In February 2011,Defendant filed the Answer. (Answer and Countercl.). The Answer asserts affirmative defensesand a counterclaim for copyright infringement. (Id. at 5-13).On February 9, 2011, the Association filed a motion to remand the matter to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447. The Association arguesthat the Court should remand the matter to state court because the Complaint alleges only state-law claims. (Reply Br. 6-12). Defendant claims that the Court should not remand the matter tostate court because the Association’s state-law claims implicate copyright law and are thus preempted by the Copyright Act. (Id. at 4-6). Moreover, Defendant argues that because thecounterclaim asserts copyright infringement, granting the Association’s motion to remand couldcreate both potentially inconsistent results in state and federal courts and added litigationexpenses. (Id. at 7). The parties submitted their respective briefs, and the motion is ripe for review.
Case 1:11-cv-00165-RBK -JS Document 19 Filed 08/04/11 Page 3 of 13 PageID: 250

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