Inhale, Inc. v. Starbuzz Tobacco, Inc., No. 12-56331 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Inhale claimed copyright protection in the shape of a hookah water container that it first published in 2008 and registered with the United States Copyright Office in 2011. Inhale filed suit against Starbuzz for copyright infringement, claiming that Starbuzz sold water containers that were identical in shape to Inhale's container. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Starbuzz after determining that the shape of the water container was not copyrightable. The court concluded that the shape of a container is not independent of the container's utilitarian function - to hold the contents within its shape - because the shape accomplishes the function. Therefore, the district court correctly concluded that the shape of Inhale's hookah water container was not copyrightable. Further, the district court did not abuse its discretion under 17 U.S.C. 505 by awarding attorneys' fees to Starbuzz. Moreover, the court awarded attorneys' fees incurred in the defense of this appeal to Starbuzz under section 505 in an amount to be determined by the district court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment and remanded.