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Court Dismisses Three Individuals from Suit Over "Copycat" Theater Troupe

Promotional graphic from defendants’ Web site

Who can forget the Moscow Cats Theatre case? Plaintiffs Yuri and Dimitri Kuklachev sued their former producer, several performance venues (including the Seattle Repertory Theatre), two ticket outlets, and a number of individuals for their alleged involvement in promoting a competing cat show under plaintiffs’ “Moscow Cats Theatre” name.

In December, the court granted plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction against producer Mark Gelfman, Gelfman International Enterprises, Inc., and Yanis Gelfman.

In January, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the Seattle Repertory Theatre, which alleged staged some of the “copycat” performances.

Today, Judge Charles Sifton granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings brought by three individual defendants on the ground they were not responsible for the trademark, unfair competition, and tort injuries that plaintiffs claimed.

The court found: “The complaint states that Yanis Gelfman was manager of the allegedly infringing show, that [Yuri] Pototski was a director, and that [Dmitry] Krassotkine was the press secretary. Other than these allegations as to defendants’ role in the allegedly infringing show, there are no individual allegations against Pototski, Krassotkine and Yanis Gelfman in the complaint, nor can any further allegations against these defendants be inferred. Defendants argue that these allegations are insufficient to state a claim against them.

“Plaintiffs confine their arguments in opposition to the claims of false advertising, trademark infringement, and copyright infringement. Plaintiffs additionally assert that defendants are liable as employees of Mark Gelfman and Gelfman Inc., who they allege were primarily responsible for the infringement. Plaintiffs make no allegation that Pototski, Krassotkine, and Yanis Gelfman knew that Gelfman, Inc. and Mark Gelfman were not authorized to use the tricks, ‘Moscow Cats Theatre’ mark, and photographs belonging to plaintiffs. Nor have they alleged that these defendants were active, conscious participants in any allegedly infringing activities. As such, plaintiffs have failed to make out a claim against these defendants.”

The case cite is Kuklachev v. Gelfman, No. 08-2214 (E.D.N.Y. March 25, 2009).

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