Cvent and Eventbrite are competitors in the event planning industry. Both companies offer web-based tools for locating venues and organizing large scale events. Cvent is the creator and copyright holder of an Internet database of meeting venues and “Destination Guides” that provides city and venue specific profiles designed for meeting and event planners.
Cvent alleged that in the fall of 2008, Eventbrite hired a computer engineer to enter information about hotels, restaurants, bars, and meeting venues in various cities from Cvent’s online database.
Cvent brought suit in July 2010, alleging violations of the Copyright Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Virginia Computer Crimes Act, the Lanham Act, Breach of Contract, Business Conspiracy, and unjust enrichment. Eventbrite moved for dismissal of all claims except for Cvent’s copyright claim. The Court granted Eventbrite’s motion as to all claims except the Lanham Act and unjust enrichment claims. Additionally, the Court held that Cvent could not recover attorney’s fees or statutory damages for its claims under the Copyright act.
In dismissing the CFAA claim, the Court joined the Ninth Circuit, the Southern District of New York, and the District Court for the District of Columbia in holding that inappropriate use of information that a defendant had lawful authority to access does not violate the CFAA.
The Court, however, allowed Cvent’s claims under the Lanham Act to proceed. Cvent alleged that Eventbrite had engaged in “reverse passing off” of its website material as Eventbrite’s own. The Court rejected Eventbrite’s argument that the scope of “reverse passing off” claims is limited to tangible goods. The Court instead found the claim survived because Cvent had not alleged that Eventbrite “has passed off its ideas as its own, but rather Eventbrite has re-branded and re-packaged its product (the venue database) and sold it as its own.”
Finally, the Court struck Cvent’s request for statutory damages and attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act, finding that because the events at issue occurred in 2008 and the copyrights were not registered until 2010, plaintiff may only recover compensatory damages.