Intellectual Property - 2010 Fall Bulletin

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On September 10, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit issued a much awaited ruling on appeal in Vernor v. Autodesk, No. 09-35969, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 18957, addressing whether software purchasers are owners or licensees of the copies of the software in their possession. The court held that “a software user is a licensee rather than an owner of a copy of the software where the copyright owner (1) specifies that the user is granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user’s ability to transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions.”

The distinction between owner and licensee can be critical to software publishers because owners have certain rights not afforded to mere licensees under copyright law.

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