How does one determine copyright infringement? 3 Answers as of May 16, 2011A former employee of mine copyrighted a daily report we put out in his own name. The report has a format and the information within is updated daily. After he left the company, I was forced to modify it since he now owned the copyright. There are similarities in the 2 (mine and his) and he has now indicated he is going to sue me for copyright infringement. How can I determine if he has a case against me?
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
As a general rule, the work product of an employee, made within the scope of his employment, is the property of the employer and any copyrightable material from the work product is also the property of the employer. This is the so called made for hire work. Factors that are considered in determining whether or not a work is made for hire are: (a) whether the work was the type of work the employee was paid to perform, (b) whether the work was made during working hours and at the work place, and (c) the work was made to serve the employer. As a result, the employee's copyright might not be valid. Assuming that the copyright is valid, your modification of the copyrighted material may or may not be infringing depending on the degree of similarity. That is a factual inquiry and an attorney must review both documents in order to assess whether or not there is an infringement issue.
Answer Applies to: California
Intellectual Property Center, LLC | Ak Shaf
Based upon his threat of litigation, i would suggest contacting an attorney to assist you. Based upon the facts of the situation, it seems like the company may own rights to the work, even if he copyrighted the material in his own name. Feel free to contact us directly.
Answer Applies to: Kansas