No Shortcuts Allowed in Copyright Infringement Case Analysis

Here’s a story of a company founder leaving the company and the geographical area and starting a new company in the same line of business.  It’s not necessarily a story about what not to do.  It’s more a story of the legal issues that can arise when the founder creates copyrighted works, assigns the ownership of the copyrighted works to the first company and then creates similar works for the second company.  Perhaps the founder could have retained the right to make derivative works, instead of assigning all of his copyright rights to the first company. 

David Richison founded the Ernest Group, dba Paycom Payroll, a payroll processing company, in Oklahoma in the 1990s.  He wrote two software programs for use at the company and then assigned his copyright interest in the programs to the Ernest Group.  Richison left Oklahoma and the Ernest Group.  He moved to Maryland and founded Period Financial Corporation, also a payroll processing company.  Richison wrote two more software programs for Period.  One of the programs was based on a program Richison wrote for Paycom. 

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Dissed Thomas M. Cooley Law School Gets No Satisfaction from the Sixth Circuit

Attorney David Anziska made statements about the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, some of which were posted on the Internet and some of which were alleged in a complaint.  Thomas M. Cooley Law School sued Anziska and his firm for the state law claims of defamation, tortious interference with business relations, breach of contract, and false light.  Strangely, no allegations of wrong doing were made about my favorite statement by Anziska:  “These schools are preying on the blithe ignorance of naive, clueless 22-year-olds who have absolutely no idea what a terrible investment obtaining a JD degree is. Perhaps one of the worst offenders is the Thomas Cooley School of Law, which grossly inflates its post-graduate employment data and salary information.”  (Opinion pdf page 2).  Looking back at myself as a K through JD, I was definitely naïve and clueless at age 22.  That didn’t stop me from going back for my IP LL.M. years later.  Silly me.

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Anziska and the other defendants.  The district court determined that Thomas M. Cooley Law School was a limited-purpose public figure and that no reasonable jury could conclude that Anziska published the statements with actual malice.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

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