Published by LawTechie - November 1, 2011 - LawTechie

A recent New York Supreme Court ruling showcases a lesser known facet of New York’s intellectual property doctrine, specifically, the cause of action for idea misappropriation. Under the idea misappropriation theory, an idea owner (originator?) can seek to protect an intellectual property which does not otherwise fall under any of the traditional IP protection mechanisms (e.g., copyright, trademark or patent).

In Daou v. Huffington, Index No. 651997/2010 (Sup. Ct. NY, October 7, 2010), Judge Charles E. Ramos ruled that Peter Daou could proceed in his lawsuit against Ariana Huffington for allegedly stealing his idea for the Huffingtonpost website. The court noted that:

New York law recognizes the tort of misappropriation of ideas when a plaintiff’s factual assertions establish that the misappropriated ideas were both novel and concrete (Lois Pitts Gershon PON/GGK v. Tri-Honda Adv. Assoc., 166 AD2d 357 [1st Dept. 1990]; Alexander v. Murdoch, 2011 WL 2802923, *8 [SDNY 2011]).

The court went on to find that, at the time, the idea of a “collective of blogs by notable personalities, non-partisan news aggregation” etc… was a novel idea and therefore deserving of the state-based intellectual property protection. Of course, at this early motion to dismiss stage of litigation, the judge merely ruled that plaintiff should get a chance to prove his alleged facts, but it is nevertheless interesting to see this type of intellectual property theory come into play.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.


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