Granger v. Acme Abstract Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 09-27-2012
  • Case #: 09-2119(NLH)(KMW)
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hillman
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to determine if a computer program is copyrightable and has been infringed, one must delineate between the copyrightable expression and the unprotected elements of the program.

Opinion (Hillman): John Granger (Granger) filed a copyright infringement suit against the Acme Abstract Company and some of its members (Acme). Granger claimed to have created two title insurance calculators in 2002 for use on the internet, which he registered with the copyright office in 2006. Acme placed the calculators on their website which advertised their own title insurance business. When Granger discovered this, he sent a letter to Acme requesting a written licensing agreement to continue use. Acme did not respond, but soon after this request removed the calculators from their website. Granger claimed that he registered the calculators within the five-year period from when he published the copyrighted work to constitute prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright. He claimed that he first created the calculators in 1997, but created a new copyright in the calculators when he updated them with the rates from 2002. Acme demonstrated that Granger’s title insurance calculators were not copyrightable material, because the insurance rates were mandated by the State, and Granger simply used the State’s tables and rates. Granger argued that even though he did not publish the tables, he created the database program to calculate the rates. Ultimately, he failed to provide the original source code and how it was copyrightable, and thus failed to provide evidence to prove that he created any original aspects to the calculators. Summary judgment was GRANTED for Acme.

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