Lafarga v. Lowrider Arte Magazine, No. SACV11-1501, 2012 WL 3667441 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2012)

Plaintiff Joaquin Lafarga filed a copyright infringement suit against Lowrider Arte Magazine, alleging that the Magazine published photographs and images of Lafarga’s oil paintings without Lafarga’s permission. The Magazine filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Specifically, the Magazine argued that Lafarga failed to allege ownership of an original work because Lafarga alleged that the paintings were protected under a trademark, not copyright, application. Looking to the text of the complaint, the court agreed that Lafarga’s alleged basis of copyright ownership was misguided and that Lafarga seemed to be confused about the difference between copyright protection and trademark protection. Nonetheless, the court found that Lafarga sufficiently alleged that he authored the paintings to establish copyright ownership. However, Lafarga failed to meet another required element in pleading copyright infringement, copyright registration. The court ordered Lafarga to show cause why the motion to dismiss should not be granted, essentially suggesting to Lafarga that he register specifically for the purpose of maintaining the lawsuit.