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Cortes-Ramos v. Martin-Morales

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 27, 2018

LUIS ADRIÁN CORTÉS-RAMOS, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
ENRIQUE MARTIN-MORALES, a/k/a Ricky Martin, JOHN DOE, RICHARD DOE, Defendants, Appellees.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO Hon. Daniel R. Domínguez, U.S. District Judge

          Juan R. Rodríguez, with whom Rodríguez Lopez Law Offices, P.S.C. was on brief, for appellant.

          David C. Rose, with whom Pryor Cashman LLP, Jorge I. Peirats, and Pietrantoni Méndez & Alvarez LLC, were on brief, for appellees.

          Before Torruella, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          BARRON, Circuit Judge.

         This case concerns Luis Adrián Cortés-Ramos' appeal from a District Court order that dismissed his claims that the singer Enrique Martin-Morales violated various articles of the Puerto Rico Civil Code and federal copyright and trademark laws. The suit arises in connection with a songwriting contest held in Puerto Rico in 2014.

         For purposes of this appeal, Cortés-Ramos does not dispute that, as a contestant, he agreed to the terms of the contest's rules and that they included an arbitration provision that compelled the submission to arbitration of those of his claims that "aris[e] in connection with, touch[e] upon or relat[e] to" those rules. He contends, though, that the District Court erred in granting Martin's motion to dismiss his claims based on that arbitration provision.

         We agree with Cortés-Ramos. We therefore reverse the order dismissing his claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1]

         I.

         In 2013, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Music Brasil, Sony Pictures Television, Inc., and Sony Electronics, Inc. (collectively "Sony") co-sponsored the "SuperSong" contest. The contest invited entrants to compose, record, and submit an original musical composition and accompanying music video. According to the contest's rules, the winning composition would potentially be included on the 2014 Fédération Internationale de Football Association ("FIFA") World Cup Official Album.

         On January 2nd, 2014, Cortés-Ramos entered the contest by uploading a song and accompanying music video to the contest's website prior to the submission deadline of January 6, 2014. On January 8, 2014, Cortés-Ramos was notified by email that he was selected as one of twenty finalists, and, on January 15, 2014, Cortés-Ramos received an email from a representative of one of the contest co-sponsors that requested that, in connection with his entry in the contest, he sign several documents and return the documents to Sony. Cortés-Ramos signed the documents before a notary public and returned them.

         On February 10, 2014, a different entrant was announced as the winner of the contest. On or about April 22, Martin released a song and music video entitled "Vida."

         Cortés-Ramos alleges in his suit, which he filed on February 8, 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, that Martin's "Vida" music video is similar to the music video that he had submitted as an entrant in the contest. On the basis of that allegation, he claimed that he was entitled to damages pursuant to federal and Puerto Rico law.

         The District Court dismissed all of Cortés-Ramos' claims, however, based on a provision of the contest's rules. Those rules state that "[b]y entering this Contest, entrant . . . expressly agrees to all terms and conditions set forth in these Official Rules." The rules then describe, among other things, requirements for eligibility, winner selection, a description of the prize, and a list of contest ...


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