Milberg Weiss is the leading plaintiff’s law firm in shareholder suits. It is finding that other firms are copying its court papers, then under-bidding it for business. It is now putting copyright notices on its papers and filing for copyright registration. Now it is sending out demand letters to those law firms, according to this law.com article.
The article is a good discussion of the issues, however there is a red herring. The quoted professor who “laughed” at Milberg’s claim, citing NBA v. Motorola, 105 F.3d 841, is technically correct when he said that NBA, which sued Motorola for providing play-by-play reports if NBA games via pager, didn’t have much of a copyright claim, but that’s because it was primarily an unfair competition claim under the “hot news” doctrine (and inapposite here). (My old firm represented the NBA in that one. I didn’t participate in the representation but I had to listen to my colleagues who did).
Lawyers (and other progfessionals) seeking to use copyright to protect their work product should check out “Copyright in Financial Documents,” by Chris Morcom, Roger Zissu and Frederick Mostert, in the July 1994 issue of Journal of International Banking Law. If you threw away your back issues, email me.