Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 11-57137 (9th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Omega, global purveyor of luxury watches, filed suit against Costco for copyright infringement, alleging that Costco's importation of Omega's Seamaster watches, which sometimes bears an engraving of the Omega Globe Design, was without the copyright holder's permission in violation of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 602. The district court granted summary judgment to Costco on remand, finding that Omega misused its copyright of the Omega Globe to expand its limited monopoly impermissibly and granting Costco attorney's fees. Pursuant to Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the court affirmed and concluded that Omega's right to control importation and distribution of its copyrighted Omega Globe expired after that authorized first sale, and Costco's subsequent sale of the watches did not constitute copyright infringement. Therefore, application of the first sale doctrine disposes of Omega's claim, resolves this case in Costco's favor, and conclusively reaffirms that copyright holders cannot use their rights to fix resale prices in the downstream market. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney's fees to Costco where it should have been clear to Omega that copyright law neither condoned nor protected its actions, and the imposition of fees would further the purpose of the Copyright Act.