A Federal Circuit Court denied Triller’s motion to dismiss design patent and copyright infringement claims in an ongoing lawsuit over triangle-shaped fighting rings.
BYB Extreme Fighting Series and Lights Out Productions filed a civil suit against Triller in November of 2021, claiming that Triller’s Triad Combat concept was an unauthorized and unlawful use of their own patented “Trigon” design.
The case was originally filed in Florida, but moved to the Central District of California by mutual agreement. That’s where District Judge Mark C. Scarsi issued his decision on Wednesday, denying Triller’s request with the following explanations.
ON THE DESIGN PATENT CLAIM:
“The Court disagrees with Defendants that the ornamental features make the claimed design and the accused product plainly dissimilar as a matter of law. While there are differences Defendants identify, including the lack of a door in the accused product, an apparent difference in height between the claimed product and the accused product, and different visual design for the corners of the two products, [...] these differences in isolation do not make the overall designs so plainly dissimilar that it is implausible an ordinary observer would confuse them”
ON THE COPYRIGHT CLAIM:
“Even accepting Defendants’ argument that the triangular shape of the fighting ring and the tubular ropes are not protectible, the Court disagrees with Defendants that the copyrighted design and the accused design are dissimilar as a matter of law.
“Defendants list ten dissimilarities that they argue warrant a conclusion of noninfringement. The overall arrangement and selection of the features in the accused design bear enough similarity to the copyrighted design to make it plausible that Plaintiffs can prove the designs are substantially similar, however.
[...] Indeed, the complaint identifies several commentators comparing Defendants’ accused product to Plaintiffs’ design without any apparent prompting. The copyright infringement claims are plausibly pleaded.”
Triller has 14 days to respond to the ruling before the pre-trial process continues.
BYB Extreme Fighting Series issued a statement you can read in full here. Mike Vazquez, BYB’s President, told Bad Left Hook that his organization is “Happy to get our day in court. It’s important for people to stand up for what they work hard for. You can’t let people trample you.”
The ruling may surprise anyone who read Bad Left Hook’s expert explainer on the lawsuit. In that story, law professor and design patent expert Sarah Burstein felt that the design patent and copyright claims, as filed at the time, were likely to be dismissed. Judge Scarsi’s ruling instead paves the way for those claims to proceed to discovery and potentially a jury trial.
Outside observers may see this as an argument over a basic shape, but BYB’s Mike Vazquez says it’s very serious business for his company.
“It’s a distinguishing factor for us. I understand other people may think it’s silly, but we’ve invested a lot of time and money building our organization. And it’s quite a shock when someone else comes in, knowing that you exist, and decides to just take your design and say they’ve created it.”
Triller representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified BYB President Mike Vazquez as “Mark.” We apologize for the error.