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United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
July 10, 2013, Argued; January 29, 2014, Filed
No. 12-2506 & 12-4471
[***1538] [*58] GREENAWAY, JR., Circuit Judge.
This case concerns Appellant Peter Brownstein's claim under the Copyright Act seeking [***1539] a declaratory judgment of joint authorship of an ethnic identification system that he created with Appellee Tina Lindsay, the Lindsay Cultural Identification Determinate ("LCID"). Lindsay purports to have conveyed the copyrights to the LCID to Appellee Ethnic Technologies ("E-Tech"). The contested work is a computer program that implements rules for identifying the ethnicity of proper names for the purposes of direct marketing. In addition to a declaration of his joint authorship, Brownstein sought an accounting of the profits from the ethnic identification system. In response, Appellees counterclaimed to cancel the copyright registrations that Brownstein had [**2] received for the system's computer code, which was his contribution to the work.
After the District Court denied summary judgment, the case went to trial. At the end of Brownstein's case, the District Court granted Appellees judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a) on Brownstein's joint authorship claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a). The District Court found that Brownstein's claim was time-barred and that he could not succeed on the merits of his claim based on the evidence adduced at trial. The District Court severed Appellees' counterclaim and later issued an opinion granting summary judgment to Appellees on their counterclaim.
This appeal presents two issues of first impression for our Circuit. The first is when a joint authorship claim under the Copyright Act arises and accrues and the second is whether courts have the authority to cancel copyright registrations. For the following reasons, we hold that an authorship claim arises and accrues when a plaintiff's authorship has been "expressly repudiated". We also hold that courts have no authority to cancel copyright registrations. We will reverse both the District Court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to Appellees and its grant [**3] of summary judgment to Appellees on their counterclaim. Also, we will remand the case for a new trial.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
742 F.3d 55 *; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 **; 109 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1535 ***; Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P30,557; 2014 WL 306240
PETER BROWNSTEIN, Appellant v. TINA LINDSAY; ETHNIC TECHNOLOGIES
Subsequent History: Summary judgment granted by, Dismissed by Brownstein v. Lindsay, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201221 (D.N.J., Nov. 28, 2018)
Prior History: [**1] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY. (D.C. Civ. Action No. 3:10-cv-01581). District Judge: Honorable Joel A. Pisano.
Brownstein v. Lindsay, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170338 (D.N.J., Nov. 30, 2012)
registrations, programs, co-author, license, rights, settlement agreement, authorship, cancel, joint authorship, ownership, courts, Software, repudiated, derivative work, ownership interest, conveyed, deposit, express repudiation, Ethnic, license agreement, Copyright Act, non-exclusive, counterclaim, register, statute of limitations, discovery rule, lawsuit, computer program, computer code, matter of law
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, General Overview, Summary Judgment, Appellate Review, Standards of Review, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Copyright Law, Scope of Copyright Protection, Ownership Interests, Joint Authors & Works, Works Made for Hire, Initial Ownership, Copyright Infringement Actions, Civil Infringement Actions, Registration Requirement, Deposit & Registration Requirements, Registration, Registration Certificates, Deposits, Mandatory Deposits, Collective & Derivative Works, Derivative Works, Scope of Protection, Ownership Rights, Adaptations, Preparation of Derivative Works, Assignments & Transfers, Formalities, Defenses, Statute of Limitations, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Trademark Law, Registration Procedures, Federal Registration, Power of Courts, Interpretation, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Burdens of Proof