Conflict between business competitors in Washington state leads to UPEPA action.

Torchstar Corporation sells LED products through Amazon
. Thorstatter filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. A similar products seller, Hyatech, Inc., basically copied Torchstar’s Amazon sales pages in violation of copyright and other laws. For its part, Hyatech claims that Torchster’s sales pages are ineligible for copyright protection and that it is Torcher that has tried to destroy Hyatech as an illegal competitor through litigation. Hayatech asserts its counterclaim against Torchstar, claiming that Torchstar filed false claims of copyright infringement against Amazon, including infringement based on product images taken by Hayatech’s own photographer. Hayatech also claims that Torchster did not register its copyright with the US Copyright Office until the lawsuit was filed.

Therefore, in support of Sec., Torchster sued Hayatech, and Hayatech sued Torchstar. Nothing unusual to see here, welcome to commercial litigation. But now it’s getting interesting.

Instead of fighting Hayatech’s claims, Torchstar instead filed a special motion to strike under Washington’s Uniform Public Disclosure Protection Act (UPEPA), Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute. Torchstar argues that its report to Amazon and the initiation of a lawsuit against Hayatech is a privileged litigation relationship, that Hayatech’s claim is barred on technical grounds (discussed below), and that Hayatech ultimately cannot assert its tortious interference claim against Torchstar. In Touchstar Corp. v. Hyatech, Inc., 2023 WL 137762 (EDWa., Jan. 9, 2023), all of this is examined closely as we delve into the court’s opinion, which you can read for yourself here.

UPEPA’s special initiative provides a way for litigants to test adverse claims at an early stage of the process in some cases. It is a matter of public concern. Exempt from UPEPA’s scope, however, is so-called “commercial speech” that arises from the sale or rental of goods or services.

Torchster’s special activity was mostly based on technical ground, which is called Knorr-Pennington Doctrine creates immunity for movement that responds to government grievances. In other words, if the litigant petitions the government for something or the other, then in Knorr-Pennington The doctrine is that the litigant cannot be sued because of that pleading.

That is the general rule of the doctrine. However, as I have repeatedly stated in my articles, the thing about general rules is that they do not apply in general. For our purposes here, one of the differences Knorr-Pennington The doctrine does not apply to so-called “spurious pleadings,” which are factually baseless and abuse the judicial process to interfere with competitive commercial relations. A similar distinction does not apply to a third-party relationship that does not threaten a third-party dispute.

The court found that Torchstar could not prove his innocence Knorr-Pennington doctrine for several reasons. First of all, Torchster has not threatened Amazon with any litigation. Second, because Amazon was a private party, Torchstar had no constitutional right to require Amazon to respond to any complaints. However, the court left open to later address the issue of whether Torchster’s claim against Hyatt was in the nature of a sham litigation. The bottom line is that Torchstar has failed to establish that Hayatech’s claim is amenable to law, and thus Torchstar’s UPEPA special motion fails.


This case has finally changed – at least in the opinion of the court – about vagaries Knorr-Pennington doctrine, it is important to note that there are substantial alternative reasons for the Court to deny Thorstar’s motion to dismiss, not least of which is UPEPA’s commercial speech. This means that UPEPA is intended to protect a very broad range of constitutional rights, particularly freedom of speech and the right to petition, but not to encompass the extent of a commercial dispute between two competing vendors. Goods.

Another issue to consider is the nature of UPEPA’s special motion for summary judgment proceedings, which usually occurs at the end of a case, after all discovery has been concluded to test whether a party has had enough. Evidence that the jury could reasonably reach a verdict. What UPEPA and other anti-SLAPP statutes do effectively is to move summary judgment from near the end of the litigation to early in the litigation and allow any extraneous issues to be thrown out quickly. The reason this fourth quarter has been moved to the first quarter is to prevent litigants in the area of ​​restricted activity from being exempted from the costs and expenses of the litigation until then. This will prevent abusive litigants from abusing the legal system and harassing the parties in the litigation itself which damages the character of the defender.

The bottom line here is that if a case survives summary judgment or not, it likewise survives UPEPA’s special motion. But since the OPD’s special motion will not have the opportunity for an extended trial, litigants in the barred motion will have to have all their ducks in a row when the case begins. And don’t wait until their case gathers itself in the normal course of argument. Accordingly, the court held that Hayatec had presented sufficient evidence to support a trial on the sham litigation claim, as if it had been granted summary judgment, and Torchster’s special UPEPA motion failed. Judgment would not fall.

Note here that Torchster’s UPEPA separate motion arose in connection with Hayatech’s claim. UPEPA does not limit the availability of its special pleadings to those who have commenced litigation, but such special pleadings may be filed in every claim, counterclaim, counterclaim, third party claim, etc. They can be presented in any form or by name. It will rise, as long as the movement is current.

Finally, and to completely change the direction of this discussion, even if Torchstar’s UPEPA specific motion ultimately failed, the motion itself probably gave Torchstar a litigious advantage because it preempted Hayatech’s entire case. Any subsequent discovery that may occur between these parties. That’s no small advantage, and will probably greatly reduce the need for a Torchlight discovery. The lesson for litigants here is that UPEPA’s special motion should at least be colorable and, if not proven for delay purposes, the motion should usually be filed. Similarly, Torchstar now has the opportunity to file an expedited appeal of UPEPA’s Special Motion to Dismiss, which is not normally available for ordinary motions filed early in the case. Debaters should note that potential benefit as well.

Source link

Related posts

Leave a Comment

17 + seven =