How two wedding dress companies sued a top security firm for copyright infringement and lost

Website security company Cloudflare has won a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against it by two US wedding dress companies.

Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs acted after discovering several counterfeit websites using their content to sell dresses. Both companies claimed that Cloudflare was guilty of contributory copyright infringement as the firm did not end the services for websites that infringed on the dressmakers’ copyrighted designs.

The dressmakers filed their lawsuit back in 2018, but now, almost three years later, US District Judge Vince Chhabria has ruled that Cloudflare did not materially contribute to the alleged infringement.

TechRadar Pro reached out to Cloudflare, which declined to comment – although in a blog post, the company said: “While we cannot prevent online infringement, we’ve set up abuse processes to assist copyright holders address the issue by connecting them with the hosting providers and website operators actually able to take such content off the Internet.”

The lawsuit uncovered that most of the websites selling counterfeit versions of the dresses were situated in China, with an amended complaint listing hundreds of defendants with unknown names.

The wedding dress companies, which own the copyright for all the photographic images of the designs they sell, employed the help of Counterfeit Technology to identify more than 365 Cloudflare clients that contained, displayed, and used infringing and unauthorized copies of the dress makers copyrighted photographs using Cloudflare’s suite of services.

The suit pointed out that in Cloudflare’s terms and conditions, any violation of the law justifies termination of service and that “CloudFlare’s policy is to investigate violations of these terms of service and terminate repeat infringers”.

Ultimately, the wedding dress companies were relying on Cloudflare to deal with the counterfeit websites based on their terms and conditions.

Judge Chhabria added that there was no indication that Cloudflare’s services were an essential step in the infringement process.

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