Righthaven may contest creditor’s writ to seize its assets
3 November 2011
VEGAS INC archives
- Marshals ordered to seize Righthaven assets (11-1-2011)
- First Righthaven trial called off (11-1-2011)
- Righthaven misses deadlines, again faces asset seizure threat (10-29-2011)
- Defense attorneys hit Righthaven lawyer with sanctions motion (10-26-2011)
- Legal attacks under way in advance of first Righthaven trial (10-25-2011)
- Another judge doubtful of Righthaven’s standing to sue (10-25-2011)
Copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas signaled Wednesday that a creditor will have to jump through more hoops before it gains control of Righthaven’s assets.
On Tuesday, the federal court in Las Vegas issued a writ of execution requiring the U.S. Marshals Service to seize $63,720 in Righthaven assets to satisfy a judgment and costs in favor of Wayne Hoehn.
Righthaven had filed a lawsuit against Hoehn alleging copyright infringement for his unauthorized post on a sports betting website of a Las Vegas Review-Journal column — but the suit backfired on Righthaven when a federal judge dismissed it and then ordered Righthaven to pay Hoehn’s attorney’s fees.
Shawn Mangano of Las Vegas, an outside attorney for Righthaven, said Wednesday the company was aware of the writ.
"We’re evaluating the appropriate course of action,’’ Mangano said.
The options include challenging the writ in federal court in Las Vegas or at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Mangano said.
If the Marshals Service and Hoehn’s attorneys try to seize Righthaven’s intellectual property, Righthaven will likely go to court to have the value of that property established, Mangano said.
The intellectual property includes software Righthaven uses to detect infringements, its website domain name and hundreds of copyrights Righthaven has registered.
Many of the copyrights have been the basis for the 276 lawsuits Righthaven has filed since March 2010. Of the suits, 275 claim material from the Review-Journal and the Denver Post was infringed on, while one suit involves sports betting material.
Righthaven has also registered copyrights to at least two porn movies. They are "Ebony Amateurs Vegas Edition #10" and "Ebony Princess #3."
While Righthaven has warned it could face bankruptcy if a creditor tried to seize its assets — particularly copyrights that generate lawsuit settlement revenue — Mangano said Wednesday that a bankruptcy is not imminent.
"We’re not there yet,’’ he said.
The $63,720 writ for Hoehn is just the beginning of Righthaven’s problems arising from defendants prevailing against Righthaven in court and then winning orders requiring Righthaven to pay their legal fees.
A federal judge in Las Vegas has ordered Righthaven to pay $119,488 in legal fees and costs to prevailing defendant Thomas DiBiase and a much larger fee award is likely by the same judge, Roger Hunt, in Righthaven’s failed lawsuit against the Democratic Underground.
It was in the heavily-litigated Democratic Underground case that Hunt first ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue over R-J material because it was falsely claiming to own the copyright it was suing over.
In a domino effect, three more judges in Nevada and one in Colorado dismissed Righthaven suits, including Hoehn’s, ruling the company didn’t control the copyrights it claimed to own. Righthaven has also lost three lawsuits on fair use grounds.
In Denver, attorneys for another defendant who defeated Righthaven in a lawsuit over a Denver Post photo, Leland Wolf of the It Makes Sense Blog, have asked for Righthaven to pay another $33,148 in fees.
These attorneys include lawyers from Randazza Legal Group of Las Vegas, who also represent Hoehn.
On Wednesday, Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane in Denver reiterated that Righthaven must pay Wolf’s fees — the only question is how much money Kane will award Wolf for his costs.
"Plaintiff Righthaven must reimburse defendant Leland Wolf’s full costs in defending this action, including reasonable attorney fees. Despite my encouragement to negotiate an informal resolution of this question, the parties have failed to do so,’’ Kane wrote in an order Wednesday setting a Nov. 10 hearing on the issue.
Additional fee awards against Righthaven are possible in several of its contested lawsuits in Nevada, Colorado and South Carolina — though Righthaven is appealing the dismissals of many of its lawsuits and the attorney's fee awards against it.
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