Smashwords — Victories in Ohio and the Sixth Circuit

Smashwords, Inc.
Type of Engagement
Litigation - Defense
Subject Matter
Constitutional Law
Invasion of Privacy
Commercial Misappropriation
Southern District of Ohio
Sixth Circuit

The Challenge

Defending Smashwords, Inc., the nation’s largest self-publishing platform, against a meritless intellectual property suit.

The Engagement

An Ohio couple sued Smashwords and several well-known booksellers for selling an e-book with their picture on the cover without obtaining their permission. The e-book was a self-published, erotic novel featuring football star Robert “Gronk” Gronkowski, which achieved notoriety when it was featured on National Public Radio and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Smashwords retained Stris & Maher to defend it in the suit. An early summary judgment motion asserting constitutional and other defenses secured a swift and complete victory before the district court. The Ohio couple appealed to the Sixth Circuit, where we continued to represent Smashwords. 

The Result

We obtained early summary judgment for our client and preserved that ruling on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

“My first contact with Stris & Maher was in a case where my company was not a principal party, but I saw what they could do. Later, when I needed to hire a firm for a different matter, it was an easy decision. They are smart, efficient, and practical. And they win.” Mark Coker, Chief Executive Officer, Smashwords, Inc.
Key Case Materials

Sixth Circuit Opinion (November 21, 2017)

Our Sixth Circuit Brief (January 27, 2017)

Order Granting Summary Judgment for Our Client (March 15, 2016)

Our Reply (November 10, 2015)

Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Our Motion (September 29, 2015)

Our Motion for Summary Judgment (September 9, 2015)

Media Coverage

6th Circ. Sides With B&N, Amazon In Erotic Book Cover Suit (Law360, November 21, 2017) (subscription required)

Amazon Defeats Lawsuit Over 'A Gronking To Remember' Book Cover (Forbes, March 18, 2016)

Amazon, B&N Not Liable In Erotic Book Cover Privacy Suit (Law360, March 16, 2016) (subscription required)