[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Larimer County District Court No. 11CV701. Honorable Devin R. Odell, Judge. Larimer County District Court No. 11CV701. Honorable Devin R. Odell, Judge.
Coan, Payton & Payne, LLC, Walter A. Winslow, Fort Collins, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
Ringenberg & Beller, P.C., Richard D. Beller, Fort Collins, Colorado; Armstrong Teasdale, LLP, Charles W. Steese, Denver, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellants.
Opinion by JUDGE FOX. Bernard and Nieto[*], JJ., concur.
[¶1] In this consolidated appeal, plaintiff, Wiley Long, challenges the district court's order dismissing his lawsuit against defendants, Loren Cordain, Paleo Diet Enterprises, LLC, and The Paleo Diet, LLC (collectively Cordain) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (court of appeals case number 13CA1502). Cordain challenges the district court's order denying his request for attorney fees and costs incurred in defending the action (court of appeals case number 14CA0054). We now reverse the district court's order dismissing the case, reinstate the action, and remand the case for additional proceedings. We vacate the district court's order concerning attorney fees.
I. Factual Background
[¶2] Long and Cordain met at Colorado State University, where Long was a graduate student and Cordain was a professor. Cordain, a leading proponent of the Paleo Diet, was teaching a course called Evolutionary Basis for Health and Fitness, in which Long enrolled. Long and Cordain bonded over their shared interest in the Paleo Diet.
[¶3] By the time he and Long met, Cordain had already published two books and several articles on the Paleo Diet. He also owned and operated a website, www.thepaleodiet.com, dedicated to the diet. But Long persuaded Cordain that he could do more to commercially market the Paleo Diet, and the two men eventually decided to form a company, Paleo Diet Enterprises, LLC (PDE), dedicated to that purpose. They entered into a Limited Liability Company Agreement (Agreement), which provided:
The business of [PDE] shall be to develop a full range of products and services, including without limitation, books, newsletters, consulting services, [and] food products, based upon the Paleo Diet. .. and to engage in any and all lawful business activities and other lawful actions in furtherance of said Business.
To help the company achieve its stated purpose, Cordain granted PDE " [a]n exclusive worldwide license to develop, market and sell products and services based upon the research and prior written work of Loren Cordain relating to all of the nutritional and dietary information and know-how generally described as the 'Paleo Diet'" (License).
[¶4] A few years later, Long and Cordain had a falling out. Cordain dissolved PDE and formed a new company, The Paleo Diet, LLC (TPD), without Long.
II. Procedural History
A. Case Number 13CA1502
[¶5] Shortly after Cordain formed TPD, Long sued Cordain. Long's complaint stated several state-law causes of action: breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, civil theft, and a request for an accounting.
[¶6] Cordain moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the district court could not decide Long's claims without resolving complex issues of copyright law. Therefore, Cordain asserted, the case arose under federal copyright law, over which federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a) (2012). The ...