Oregon State University Settles Copyright Dispute

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation announced that it has resolved its copyright infringement lawsuit against Dr. Edward Ray, on behalf of Oregon State University, and Stephen Garets, operators of the Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program. The Settlement Agreement was finalized by all parties on December 19, 2008.

“We are pleased with the settlement in which the integrity of MSF’s intellectual property rights was acknowledged,” said Tim Buche, president of the MSF. “It’s unfortunate that a lawsuit was necessary to reach a resolution of this dispute.”

MSF had offered to settle its intellectual property claims on substantially the same terms in October 2006 and only resorted to the lawsuit after its offer was rejected without a counter offer.

Buche added that MSF, which was represented in the litigation by Paul Gale and Erik Pritchard of Ross, Dixon and Bell, was prepared to litigate the case to conclusion with nationally renowned copyright expert David Nimmer. Nimmer had committed to testify that the Oregon publications infringed MSF’s copyrights and, as a result, could only lawfully publish them pursuant to a license granted by MSF. However, Buche said MSF’s Board of Trustees was open to revisiting discussions when the defendants requested a settlement conference to resolve the lawsuit.

A primary defense in the case had been that MSF did not own the copyright in the curriculum materials at issue, which date back to 1986. In the settlement, however, the defendants acknowledge that MSF has valid claims of copyright in those materials. MSF acknowledged, as it had since the beginning of the dispute, that Team Oregon has valid claims of copyright in Team Oregon’s materials. “MSF has always contended that an author owns the copyright to those aspects of a publication that actually are original to the author,” Buche said.

MSF has granted permission to Team Oregon to incorporate MSF’s copyrighted works in the Team Oregon course materials in the State of Oregon. Team Oregon will note that permission by including the following statement as part of the copyright statement in all materials for existing Team Oregon courses printed after May 21, 2008:

The Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program has been granted a license to incorporate the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s copyrighted materials in this publication.

The Settlement Agreement also states that Team Oregon and the defendants will not market and/or distribute, and will not permit anyone else to market and/or distribute, the Team Oregon works outside the State of Oregon.

“While we needed to protect our intellectual property, as any organization has an obligation to do, we continued to dedicate our resources to developing world-class curricula and supporting MSF programs to enhance the safety of our fellow riders,” Buche said. “That’s been our mission from day one, and that continues to be our focus as we move forward.”

MSF curricula, including the Basic RiderCourseSM, will continue to be offered at U.S. military and National Guard installations in Oregon. MSF curricula also will continue to be used in Oregon at Harley-Davidson dealerships offering the Rider’s Edge course.

Since 1973, the MSF has set standards that promote the safety of motorcyclists with rider education courses, operator licensing tests, and public information programs. The MSF works with the federal government, state agencies, the military and others to offer training for all skill levels so riders may enjoy a lifetime of safe, responsible motorcycling. The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW, BRP, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.

About the Author

Eugene R. Quinn, Jr.
President & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
US Patent Attorney (Reg. No. 44,294)

B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Rutgers University
J.D., Franklin Pierce Law Center
L.L.M. in Intellectual Property, Franklin Pierce Law Center

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Gene is a US Patent Attorney, Law Professor and the founder of IPWatchdog.com. He teaches patent bar review courses and is a member of the Board of Directors of the United Inventors Association. Gene has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the LA Times, CNN Money and various other newspapers and magazines worldwide


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