RALEIGH, N.C. — Poyner Spruill filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday in Allen v. Cooper, a case that will determine whether states can be sued in federal court for alleged copyright violations.

Poyner Spruill filed the brief on behalf of Simone Rose, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Intellectual Property Innovation at the Wake Forest University School of Law.  The brief seeks to bring an unbiased perspective to the copyright issues raised by the petitioner in the case.

Poyner Spruill lawyers Drew Erteschik, Eric Stevens, Saad Gul, J.M. Durnovich, and Cosmo Zinkow represented Professor Rose before the Supreme Court.

“This is a case with broad implications for the states, and it was an honor for us to be involved,” said Zinkow.  “It was also a privilege to work with someone of the stature of Professor Rose, a true scholar in this area of the law.”

Erteschik, who was lead counsel on the brief, highlighted the breadth of the team that worked on the matter.  “This brief was an opportunity for us to bring together Eric Stevens’ copyright experience, the experience of our Government and Constitutional Litigation Practice Group, and the experience of our appellate team.”

Allen v. Cooper stems from the discovery of Blackbeard’s pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge.  The ship was lost off the coast of North Carolina for more than two centuries, until it was discovered in 1995.

As the State of North Carolina’s brief describes, the State employed a team of professional divers and research scientists to excavate, preserve, and study the wreck.  The petitioner in the case, a local videographer named Rick Allen, documented the excavation.  The State secured written guarantees that it could use the resulting materials to further its educational mission.  Despite these agreements, Allen sued the State for copyright infringement, citing the State’s display of a handful of images in educational videos and a museum newsletter.

The case is set for oral argument on November 6, 2019.

About the Attorneys

Drew Erteschik focuses on high-stakes litigation and appeals.  Clients trust him to take the lead on their most significant matters, especially those with challenging or novel legal issues.  Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business has profiled his “highly acclaimed practice,” and Benchmark Litigation has named him a “state litigation star.”  He is a board-certified specialist in appellate practice, and currently serves as the chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Rules Committee and co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division Amicus Committee.

Eric Stevens focuses his practice on intellectual property law and litigation. With more than 15 years of IP litigation experience, he has represented clients in intellectual property disputes involving trademark and copyright infringement, domain name piracy, software licensing, trade secret theft, violations of publicity and privacy rights, and false advertising.  He also counsels clients regarding rights of privacy and publicity, internet law, trade secrets, and intellectual property aspects of entertainment law.

Saad Gul co-chairs the firm’s privacy and cybersecurity team, while also maintaining an active appellate and regulatory litigation practice. Before law school, he clerked for Chief Judge John C. Martin of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson of the North Carolina Supreme Court. He came to Poyner Spruill after working for two major Washington, D.C., law firms.

John Michael (J.M.) Durnovich represents individuals, businesses, and government bodies facing a wide range of challenges, with a concentration in high-stakes governmental disputes, whistleblower claims, constitutional litigation, and business disputes. In addition, he regularly represents clients through appeals at all levels of state and federal courts, including at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cosmo Zinkow is a member of the firm’s litigation section. He represents businesses, government entities, and individuals in a wide range of civil lawsuits and appeals. In 2019, he was part of the appellate team that successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.

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