ATLANTA — A federal appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of trademark and copyright infringement claims brought by Phoenix Entertainment Partners over karaoke tracks it created under the Sound Choice brand.
In a ruling issued March 13 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the court upheld the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida's dismissal of Phoenix’s lawsuit against Kevin Burke, a karaoke disc jockey, doing business as Mystic Entertainment.
Phoenix had also sued one of Burke’s clients, Casey Road Food and Beverage, LLC, doing business as Bucket’s Tavern and Tap. But Phoenix and Casey reached a settlement before the court granted Burke’s motion to dismiss.
Phoenix owns Sound Choice, which is used for selling karaoke accompaniment tracks. The company originally released its tracks on compact discs, but the court noted technological advances have made it possible to move the tracks from discs to computer hard drives.
“A digital copy of a Sound Choice track retains all of the original track’s information, so when a user plays the copied track, the Sound Choice mark is broadcast along with the other graphics,” the opinion reads.
Phoenix claims Burke engaged in service mark infringement because that those tracks are “pirated” or unauthorized copies. The company also accused him of unfair competition for displaying its “Sound Choice” mark during his shows. The district court dismissed the case finding the company’s claims “sound in copyright low, but not trademark.”
“Because the display of individual tracks embedded with the Sound Choice mark is not likely to confuse consumers about Burke’s DJ services, the district court did not err by granting Burke’s motion to dismiss Phoenix’s claims,” the court said.
In its decision, the court also noted that the “Ninth and Seventh Circuit courts have ruled on similar claims by Phoenix and found them unpersuasive.”
In January, a federal judge in St. Louis dismissed the provider’s trademark-infringement claims against a mobile entertainment business and night club.
In that case, which was against RJ International and Kwench, the court wrote that there is “little or no similarity or competition” between it and Phoenix’s services.