The Supreme Court of the United States granted Rimini Street’s petition for certiorari to address the meaning of “full costs” as used in the Copyright Act. Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA Inc., Case No. 17-1625 (Supr. Ct. Sept. 27, 2018). The question presented is:
Whether the Copyright Act’s allowance of “full costs,” 17 U.S.C. § 505, to a prevailing party is limited to taxable costs under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920 and 1821, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 8th and 11th Circuits have held, or whether the Act also authorizes non-taxable costs, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held.
Oracle sued Rimini in 2010 for copyright infringement and ultimately received a damages award of $124 million. Rimini appealed, and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—which upheld most of the ruling—interpreted “full costs” under the Copyright Act to include non-taxable costs such as expert witness fees, consulting fees and other costs not permitted as taxable costs under 28 USC §§ 1920 and 1821 (IP Update, Vol. 21, No. 2). The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is a departure from other circuit courts that have found that the term “full costs” in the Copyright Act only includes the specific expenses listed in 28 USC §§ 1920 and 1821. Rimini appealed to the Supreme Court and requested that the Court address the circuit split on the meaning of “full costs” under the Copyright Act.