Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Texas

As an app developer am I at risk of being sued for copyright with Amazon hosting my app?

I have an app that is on the Amazon app store which features characters that are similar in appearance to characters from a cartoon show. These characters are made out of blocks and appear in a world similar to minecraft. My app has a disclaimer stating that it is not created or endorsed by the owners of the IP of the cartoons show, and states that any resemblance to the characters is a coincidence. The Amazon app store agreed that my app was fine and now hosts it.

If legal action was taken would it be against me or Amazon?

If legal action was taken would it be to remove my app or sue for compensation? If compensation would it be an amount of the apps profits or could it be more than it even made?

Is there any additional statements I should include in the app description?


Asked on 7/13/13, 4:54 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bruce Burdick Burdick Law Firm

We don't have ESP to know what characters these are and who you are infringing, so we don't know what the reaction will be. A disclaimer does not work. That is like a bank robber saying the bank is not responsible for the robbery. Amazon did not agree your app was fine, they just failed to say it was unacceptable. The action would likely be a DMCA take down request sent to Amazon, which would result in your app being removed from Amazon. You would then have the option of filing a counter-notice claiming it is not infringing and giving your contact information so the copyright owner could sue you, and if you filed that counter-notice then Amazon would put your app back up and the copyright owner would have to get a court order to have it removed. See 17 USC 512. The copyright owner then would have to decide whether to sue you. If they did, the possible damages are $750 - $150,000 per infringement plus attorney fees and court costs and an injunction. Your app is apparently a derivative work as defined in 17 USC 101 and thus infringes the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under 17 USC 102 which makes you liable under 17 USC 501. In other words, you would likely lose the case, so consider those damages carefully.

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Answered on 7/13/13, 5:16 pm

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