Sleep Science Partners v. Lieberman and Sleeping Well, LLC, 2010 U.S.Dist LEXIS 45385 (N.D. Cal. 2010)
Plaintiff sued Sleeping Well, LLC for misappropriating its online sales method and its advertising. Sleeping Well filed a motion to dismiss primarily based on lack of specificity and preemption by Copyright Act and California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA). The court commented in depth on each cause of action challenged.
1. A cause of action for trade dress requires specific detail as to the trade dress being claimed. A statement “the unique look and feel” of a website is not sufficient, especially where portions of that website are entitled to copyright protection and therefore may be preempted from a Lanham Act claim.
2. A Federal copyright infringement claim must be based on a registration or preregistration- an application for a registration is not sufficient.
3. Defendant cannot be held liable for tortiously interfering with a contract entered into by its agents for its benefit.
4. Common law misappropriation claims are allowable, but only to the extent they do not involve trade secrets which are covered by CUTSA
5. Unfair competition claims are only allowed to the extent they are fraudulent and are not misappropriation of copyrighted material (which is preempted by the Copyright Act)
6. Unjust enrichement can be a cause of action, but again must be based on activities that are not preempted by Copyright Act or CUTSA.
7. Civil Conspiracy is a cause of action as long as it is alleging that the defendant is liable if involved in a conspiracy where a third party committed the tortious conduct.