Court: Deal between Florida consulting firm, publishing house 'indefinite and terminable at-will'

By Marian Johns | May 6, 2019

TAMPA — A federal court has ruled that an agreement between a Florida business management consulting firm and a publishing house is indefinite and terminable at-will in a case alleging copyright infringement. 

According to the February 27 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division order, the court reviewed two motions in CENPAS Corporation v. Community of Christ and Herald House DBA Independent Press and the counterclaim suit Herald Publishing House DBA Independent Press v. CENAPS Corporation and Terence Gorski.  The court reviewed the counterclaim-defendants' motion to dismiss the counterclaim and the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and granted both motions in part. 

The lawsuit and counter lawsuit involve the consulting firm, CENAPS' claim that the defendants, even after their publishing agreements had been terminated, continued to publish the works of Terence Gorski, a recognized expert on substance abuse, mental health, violence and crime which are owned by CENAPS.

 CENAPS and the defendant had entered into publishing agreements that granted rights to copy and distribute certain works of Gorski. The agreements were then terminated by CENAPS however, CENAPS allowed the defendants to "sell off their remaining inventory" of Gorski's works until the end of 2017.  The defendants continued to publish Gorski's works after the deadline which prompted CENAPS to file suit for copyright infringement. 


Herald House then filed a counter lawsuit, alleging the publishing agreements gave them the "exclusive right" to publish Gorski's works and argued that the agreements remain in force because the only way they could be terminated was under the following conditions: until the book was out of print; the sales were no longer profitable; or in the event of Herald House's bankruptcy or liquidation.  Herald House also Gorski and alleges CENAPS are publishing and distributing some of the works and are violating Herald House's exclusive rights to publish and distribute the material. 

U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew denied CENAPS' motion to dismiss and concluded that the court did "not have sufficient information" to decide which of the publishing agreements relating to the counterclaims were terminated by the deadline and ordered the parties to file a notice listing the counterclaim works that were in the termination letter sent to the defendants. 

The court further ruled that Herald Houses' motion to dismiss CENAPS' trademark infringement claims was denied.

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