Monday, August 17, 2009

Christoff v. Nestle USA, S155242

Intellectual Property: single-publication rule: the single-publication rule as codified in section 3425.3 applies, in general, to a cause of action for unauthorized commercial use of likeness.  The language of section 3425.3 is quite broad and applies by its terms to any action “for libel or slander or invasion of privacy or any other tort founded upon any single publication or exhibition or utterance, such as any one issue of a newspaper or book or magazine or any one presentation to an audience or any one broadcast over radio or television or any one exhibition of a motion picture.”  In order to apply the single-publication rule, a court first must identify what constitutes a “single integrated publication” (Belli v. Roberts Brothers Furs (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 284, 289) within the meaning of the rule, such as the printing and distribution of a particular issue of a newspaper, magazine, or book.  Whether the printing of a product label over a five-year period constitutes a single integrated publication within the meaning of the single-publication rule is an issue of first impression in this state; the common law single-publication rule was codified in 1955 when California adopted the Uniform Single Publication Act by enacting section 3425.3, which states, in part:  “No person shall have more than one cause of action for damages for libel or slander or invasion of privacy or any other tort founded upon any single publication . . . .”  The prefatory note to the uniform act states that under the single-publication rule “any single integrated publication, such as one edition of a newspaper or magazine, or one broadcast, is treated as a unit, giving rise to only one cause of action.”  (U. Single Pub. Act (2005) 14 U. Laws Ann. 469.); the court stated “that the publication of a libelous book, involving styling, printing, binding and those other acts which enable a publisher on a given date to release to the public thousands of copies of a single printing or impression, affords the one libeled a legal basis for only one cause of action which arises when the finished product is released by the publisher for sale in accord with trade practice.  (Gregoire v. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, supra, 81 N.E.2d at p. 49.); on its facts, Gregoire merely held that . . . the Statute of Limitations is not to be reactivated by a late sale from the residue of a time-barred publishing event.”  (Rinaldi v. Viking Penguin, Inc. (N.Y. 1981) 420 N.E.2d 377, 381.) The first California case to apply the single-publication rule, Belli v. Roberts Brothers Furs, supra, 240 Cal.App.2d 284, held that the February 14, 1962, issue of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, which was composed of six editions that were issued over a two-day period was “a single, integrated publication.”  (Id. at p. 289.)  The court concluded that “the Legislature intended to abrogate the right to bring a separate action based upon defamatory matter appearing in several editions of a newspaper or magazine, where, as here, all of the editions comprise a single issue of a particular date.”   (Id. at p. 289.); it has generally been held that, in the case of a single, integrated publication, the cause of action based upon objectionable matter appearing in the publication accrues upon the first general distribution of the publication to the public.”  (Belli v. Roberts Brothers Furs, supra, 240 Cal.App.2d at p. 289; see Fleury v. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. (9th Cir. 1983) 698 F.2d 1022, 1027; the rule was originally directed at mass communications, such as communications in newspapers, books, magazines, radio and television broadcasts, and speeches to an audience. Where the offending language is read or heard by a large audience, the rule limits the plaintiff to a single cause of action for each mass communication. A separate cause of action for each member of the public audience is disallowed.” The rule does not address the issue of repeated publications of the same libelous material over a substantial period of time; this distinction is clearly made in the Restatement Second of Torts, which adopts the single-publication rule that  “any one edition of a book or newspaper, or any one radio or television broadcast, exhibition of a motion picture or similar aggregate communication is a single publication.”  (Rest. 2d Torts, § 577A, p. 208.)  (Cal. S. Ct., 17.08.09, Christoff v. Nestle USA, S155242).

Propriété intellectuelle : règle de la publication unique : une publication, quel que soit le médium, est susceptible de porter atteinte à des droits (p.ex. propos diffamatoire publié dans un journal, un livre, transmis par la radio, etc.). Le lésé dispose d’un droit d’action. Cette action se prescrit. Se pose dès lors la question du dies a quo. La règle de la publication unique permet-elle de considérer que chaque nouvelle publication d’un livre p.ex. constitue une nouvelle publication unique et fait partir un nouveau délai de prescription ? La réponse est affirmative. Toutefois, si les propos litigieux sont publiés dans l’édition d’un quotidien qui paraît plusieurs fois avant la parution de l’édition suivante, la première édition qui comporte plusieurs publications est considérée comme une seule publication « intégrée » (exemple de l’édition du San Francisco Chronicle du 14 février 1962 composée de six éditions publiées sur deux jours). De manière générale, sous l’angle de la règle de la publication unique, chaque publication intégrée unique, telle qu’une édition d’un journal ou d’un magazine, ou un passage à l’antenne, est traité comme une unité, ne permettant d’agir en justice qu’une seule fois. Par conséquent, chaque nouvelle édition d’un livre constitue une publication intégrée. Il en va de même pour chaque diffusion radiophonique ou télévisuelle p. ex.

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