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Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp. - 658 F.3d 1150 (9th Cir. 2011)


The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has recognized the existence of a copyright misuse doctrine. The defense is not a defense to state law claims, and the Ninth Circuit has thus applied the doctrine sparingly. Plaintiffs who seek to enjoin unlicensed use of copyrighted works are entitled to do so where they are not seeking to extend a copyright monopoly to other products or works. The defense is preventing holders of copyrights from leveraging their limited monopoly to allow them control of areas outside the monopoly.


Plaintiff Apple Inc. sued defendant small computer manufacturer for copyright infringement. Defendant was using plaintiff’s software on their computers. The district court held that defendant was infringing plaintiff's federally registered copyrights in its operating software because defendant was copying the software for use in its computers and rejected its copyright misuse defense. On appeal, the ruling was affirmed.


Does the defense of copyright misuse properly apply in an action for injunction that was filed by plaintiff Apple against a software licensee?




The district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff copyright holder and its entry of a permanent injunction against defendant's infringement were affirmed. This is principally because its licensing agreement was intended to require the operating system to be used on the computer it was designed to operate, and it did not prevent others from developing their own computer or operating systems. These licensing agreements were thus appropriately used to prevent infringement and control use of the copyrighted material.

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