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Copyright claims dismissed against university on immunity grounds

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The University of South Florida has prevailed on a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement case involving the Affordable Care Act.

The University of South Florida has prevailed on a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement case involving the Affordable Care Act.

The lawsuit concerned a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services logo promoting Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage. USF used the HHS logo in educating Floridians about their health insurance options, the lawsuit claimed.

The letter “H” in the logo, the lawsuit alleged, was copied from a logo that a designer from Finland said he created. The designer’s lawyers asked a federal court in Jacksonville to award money damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The lawyers also requested a permanent injunction and destruction of all copies of the logo.

Agreeing with USF’s lawyers from Thomas & LoCicero, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. found that the claims against USF violated the U.S. Constitution’s Eleventh Amendment, which generally prohibits lawsuits in federal court against states and state agencies.

Porkka’s lawyers argued that USF had not proven the Eleventh Amendment applied, and that narrow exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity permitted the lawsuit. Judge Adams rejected those arguments and dismissed the case.

USF was represented by Thomas & LoCicero attorneys Jim Lake, Gregg Thomas and Allison Kirkwood Simpson. The case is titled Porkka v. University of South Florida, Case No. 3:17-cv-00245-J-25JRK (M.D. Fla.).