Willamette Law Online

Intellectual Property


Molinelli-Freytes v. University of Puerto Rico

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 09-30-2012
Case #: 09-1655
Full Text Opinion: http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/puerto-rico/prdce/3:2009cv01655/74681/445/

Copyright: An original manuscript created by employees while performing duties that are within the scope of their employment may be used by the employer without violating the 1976 Copyright Act.

Opinion (Domínguez): José Molinelli–Freytes and Lillian Bird–Canals (collectively, “Molinelli-Bird”) created a proposal for a new academic program while under the employment of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) as a professor and a program director. Molinelli-Bird argued that this program was created outside the scope of their employment, as there was no written agreement between Molinelli-Bird and UPR, and the ordinary duties of a professor and program director do not include the design and creation of a new program. However, the court found that the work-for-hire doctrine was applicable and that the creation of the program was of the kind of work Molinelli-Bird were hired to perform. Molinelli-Bird then asserted that, even if the work for hire doctrine was applicable, that UPR’s IP policy constituted valid transfer of ownership to Molinelli-Bird. The court found, however, that because the work for hire doctrine was applicable, any work done by Molinelli-Bird, unless expressly disclaimed by writing between the parties, was the property of UPR. Therefore, the court GRANTED UPR’s motion for Summary Judgment.