706 F.3d 1009 (9th Cir. 2013), 11-56934, DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp.

Docket Nº:11-56934.
Citation:706 F.3d 1009, 105 U.S.P.Q.2d 1409
Opinion Judge:REINHARDT, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:DC COMICS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. PACIFIC PICTURES CORPORATION; IP Worldwide, LLC; IPW, LLC; Marc Toberoff; Mark Warren Peary, as personal representative of the Estate of Joseph Shuster; Laura Siegel Larson, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Joanne Siegel; Jean Adele Peavy, Defendants-Appellants.
Attorney:Marc Toberoff, Keith G. Adams, and Pablo D. Arredondo, Toberoff & Associates, P.C., Malibu, CA, for Defendants-Appellants Mark Warren Peary, as personal representative of the Estate of Joseph Shuster; Laura Siegel Larson, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Joanne Siegel;...
Judge Panel:Before: STEPHEN REINHARDT and SIDNEY R. THOMAS, Circuit Judges, and JOHN W. SEDWICK, District Judge.[*]
Case Date:January 10, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 1009

706 F.3d 1009 (9th Cir. 2013)

105 U.S.P.Q.2d 1409

DC COMICS, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

PACIFIC PICTURES CORPORATION; IP Worldwide, LLC; IPW, LLC; Marc Toberoff; Mark Warren Peary, as personal representative of the Estate of Joseph Shuster; Laura Siegel Larson, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Joanne Siegel; Jean Adele Peavy, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 11-56934.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

January 10, 2013

Argued and Submitted Nov. 5, 2012.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Marc Toberoff, Keith G. Adams, and Pablo D. Arredondo, Toberoff & Associates, P.C., Malibu, CA, for Defendants-Appellants Mark Warren Peary, as personal representative of the Estate of Joseph Shuster; Laura Siegel Larson, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Joanne Siegel; and Jean Adele Peavy.

Richard B. Kendall (argued) and Laura W. Brill, Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendants-Appellants Pacific Pictures Corporation; IP Worldwide, LLC; IPW, LLC; and Marc Toberoff.

Jonathan D. Hacker, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Washington, D.C.; Daniel M. Petrocelli, Matthew T. Kline (argued), and Cassandra L. Seto, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Otis D. Wright, II, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:10-cv-03633-ODW-RZ.

Before: STEPHEN REINHARDT and SIDNEY R. THOMAS, Circuit Judges, and JOHN W. SEDWICK, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

REINHARDT, Circuit Judge:

This case arises from the district court's denial of defendants' motion, pursuant to California's anti-SLAPP statute, to strike certain of DC Comics' state law claims. In Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir.2003), we held that the collateral order doctrine permits a party to take an interlocutory appeal of an order denying such a motion. We must determine whether our decision in Batzel remains good law after the Supreme Court's intervening decision in Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, 558 U.S. 100, 130 S.Ct. 599, 175 L.Ed.2d 458 (2009). For the reasons stated below, we conclude that it does, and therefore that we have jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal. 1

I. BACKGROUND

Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster jointly created the character Superman in the mid-1930s, and thereafter began seeking a publisher for comic strips featuring the new superhero. Eventually, Detective Comics, the predecessor of plaintiff DC Comics (collectively, " DC" ) expressed interest, and, on March 1, 1938, Siegel and Shuster conveyed exclusive rights in Superman to DC in exchange for a flat fee; Siegel and Shuster also were paid for each page of Superman comics that they wrote and illustrated, and that DC published. DC issued the first comic book featuring a Superman story, Action Comics No. 1, later that year. Since then, Superman has appeared in comic books, in newspaper strips, on the radio, in television shows, and in numerous successful motion pictures. He is known worldwide for his super-human abilities: " faster than a

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speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."

Yet for all of his incredible abilities, and his commitment to creating a more peaceful world,2 Superman has generated bitter financial disputes and frequent litigation. Siegel, Shuster, and their heirs (including defendants Peary, Larson, and Peavy) have been contesting DC's ownership of various aspects of the Superman copyrights on and off since the 1940s. The current case is one of many stemming from the heirs' efforts, pursuant to the 1976 Copyright Act, to terminate the transfer of copyright to DC and thereby reclaim title to the early Superman works written and illustrated by his co-creators. See 17 U.S.C. § 304(c), (d).3 Ultimately, to assist them in these efforts, the heirs entered into an arrangement with Marc Toberoff, an attorney (also a defendant in this action). Toberoff agreed to represent the heirs, and also, with his companies (additional defendants), to jointly develop future Superman works with them.

In this lawsuit, DC brings claims under California law against the heirs, Toberoff, and his companies for intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and violation of California's unfair competition law, Cal. Bus. & Prof.Code §§ 17200 et seq. DC also brings various other claims under state and federal law regarding the Shuster heirs' attempts to exercise termination rights pursuant to the 1976 Copyright Act (claims that are not the subject of this appeal). The district court had subject matter jurisdiction over the federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a) and supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Defendants filed a motion to strike DC's intentional interference and unfair competition claims pursuant to California's anti-SLAPP statute, Cal.Civ.Proc.Code § 425.16. The district judge denied the motion, holding that defendants had failed to show that any of DC's claims arose from conduct falling within the protection of the anti-SLAPP statute. Defendants filed a timely interlocutory appeal of the district judge's order, asserting that this court has jurisdiction pursuant to the collateral order doctrine and our decision in Batzel. 4 DC contests our jurisdiction, contending that Batzel is no longer good law.

II. DISCUSSION

A.

Federal appellate jurisdiction is generally limited to review of " final decisions of the district courts of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Under the collateral order doctrine, however, the term " final decisions" encompasses not only " judgments that ‘ terminate an action,’ but also [judgments in] a ‘ small class' of collateral rulings that, although they do not end the litigation, are appropriately deemed ‘ final.’ " Mohawk Indus., Inc. v. Carpenter, 558 U.S. 100, 130 S.Ct. 599, 605, 175 L.Ed.2d 458 (2009) (citing

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Cohen v....

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