A Legal Blog by Aaron | Sanders, PLLC

Of Floods, Buses and Copyright Infringement: A Nashville Riddle

Implied “Transition Period” in Software Licenses? Don’t Count on It.

Here in Nashville, we have what might be called a so-so mass transit system. To be fair, Nashville’s layout isn’t very conducive to mass transit. It’s fairly spread out, the roads tend to meander, there are multiple commercial centers, those commercial centers aren’t always very easy to get to, and residential and commercial growth patterns have been in flux.

Still, Nashville has a bus system, the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority, which everyone calls the “MTA.” As you might expect, one of MTA’s goals is to make sure the buses run on time, which requires making sure the drivers are there to drive the buses, the correct buses are dispatched on the correct routes. It also involves monitoring how long the buses take between major stops. In 2007, MTA wanted a better system for communications, dispatching and tracking. It contracted with ACS Transport Solutions for this. ACS agreed to sell, install and configure all of the necessary equipment. This equipment required enterprise-level software to run it, and ACS also agreed to license the software to MTA.

For some reason, the software license was in an entirely separate contract called a “License Agreement.”…

May 2, 2010, Nashville, Tennessee. That's downtown in the distance. The MTA depot would actually be fairly close by, probably completely under water.

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The Color Run v Photographer Part 3—Failing at Risk-Reward Analysis

Part 3 of 3: When Doing Nothing Is the Best Choice

This is the last in a series of posts about how the popular quasi-charitable event organizer, The Color Run, got into such a serious scrape with a freelance photographer because of a too-casual copyright license. As I showed last time, The Color Run was lucky that the photographer hadn’t timely registered the copyrights in the photographs, or else his absurd $100,000 demand wouldn’t have been so absurd.

This post is about The Color Run’s reaction to the said absurd demand. Recall that The Color Run reacted by suing the photographer, Maxwell Jackson, for (1) a declaration that it had a license to use the photographs, and (2) trademark infringement. In my introductory post, I suggested that the claim for declaratory judgment was defensible but the trademark claim was a “dick move.”

I Do Declare!

While seeking a declaration of non-infringement was defensible in the face of a $100,000 demand, it wasn’t necessarily the correct or wisest course of action. The other course of action was to do nothing and see if Jackson really would sue. Sometimes, in law, doing nothing is the best course of action. Yeah, I know, bias for action…

In 1928, the Color Run was a lot less colorful.

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Patent Trolls-A Primer (Part 2)

Why NPEs Are OMG!

Last time, I explained what patent “trolls”—more politely known as a non-practicing entities or “NPEs”—are and why their business model is such a good one. Mostly they benefit from asymmetrical warfare: a defendant must spend much more money, time and other resources than NPEs, to say nothing of potential liability. Also, the types of patents that NPEs like—broad patents in popular fields with early priority dates—are undervalued and easy to pick up on the cheap. All you need are some good patents and a law firm experienced in enforcing patents willing to take the case on a contingency, and what’s not to like?

Since my main goal is not to condemn (or, for that matter, praise) NPEs, but to explain how got to be where they are, I’m discussing ten patent rules and truisms that make NPEs lucrative. Last time, I discussed three of them: (1) you don’t need to practice the patent to enforce it; (2) you can buy and sell patents like property; and (3) once issued, patents are difficult to invalidate. This time, I’ll discuss the other seven and provide some thoughts about reform (assuming you think reform is a good idea).

Well-timed injunctions

It used…

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