- Alert: Software copyright infringement action fails (Starbuck v Patsystems)
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IP & IT analysis: This case relates to a claim for copyright infringement in respect of a suite of computer software called Networked Systems Architecture (NSA). The claimant claimed that he wrote a number of versions of NSA, that he owned the copyright in version 3.1 of NSA, and that his copyright had been infringed by the defendant. In response, the defendant claimed that it was the owner of the copyright in version 3.1 of NSA, pursuant to an assignment agreement entered into between the parties in 1999. It advanced a counterclaim on the basis that a new software product developed by the claimant infringed its copyright in version 3.1 of NSA. The court construed the assignment agreement and held that the definition of ‘Software’ in the agreement included version 3.1 of NSA. Accordingly, the claimant’s action for copyright infringement failed because the defendant owned the relevant copyright. However, the counterclaim also failed because the defendant was unable to prove that the claimant’s new software infringed its copyright.
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