Although the author of a work owns the copyright the moment that work is created, Section 411 of the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. 411) provides that the copyright owner must register the copyright before the owner can bring suit for infringement. If there is no valid registration certificate, the lawsuit cannot move forward.  A copyright registration certificate that is invalid can cause problems. 

copyright registration certificate was invalid

In a recent case from the Ninth Circuit, the defendant challenged the validity of the plaintiff’s registration certificate, and the lower court dismissed the matter on summary judgment. Plaintiff sought review with the Ninth Circuit. On appeal, the court affirmed the summary judgment.  

The appellate court agreed with the district court that plaintiff’s certificate of registration was invalid because: 

  • There was no genuine dispute that plaintiff knew that it included inaccurate information in its copyright application. Plaintiff falsely represented that the copy of its website it submitted was not how it looked on the publication date listed in the application.
  • The Register of Copyrights told the court that it would have refused registration had it known about the inaccurate information.  

Because Plaintiff’s certificate of registration was invalid, plaintiff failed to satisfy the registration precondition under Section 411 to bring a copyright infringement claim. 

SellPoolSuppliesonline.com, LLC v. Ugly Pools Arizona, Inc., 2020 WL 1527774 (9th Cir. March 31, 2020) 

Related: 
http://blog.internetcases.com/2016/11/23/is-a-copyright-registration-required-before-filing-an-infringement-lawsuit/