Plaintiff provides seminars promoting its executive leadership methodology. Seminar participants received a copyrighted manual, and sign a non-dsclosure agreement. Defendants operate a website and publish materials as professional ‘de-programmers’ They obtained the manual from a former seminar customer, and published a critique, leading to published reports that plaintiff was a cult. Plaintiff sued for copyright infringement and trademark disparagement.
Second Circuit: Although it might have been the case that defendant obtained a copy of plaintiff’s work in bad faith, such bad faith is not determinative in the fair use analysis, especially as other fair use factors tended to favor defendant. Trademark disparagement count dismissed as defendant’s use of mark was not part of competitive activities.
NXIVM and First Principles v. The Ross Institute, 03-7952 (2d Cir April 20, 2004).