In Thomsen v. Famous Dave's of America, 2010 WL 2219051 (8th Cir. May 12, 2010), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found the following provision in a settlement agreement to be a valid copyright assignment:
"Al is releasing all copyright, proprietary design and sign work to [Famous Dave's] in all other restaurants that he has worked on with the exception of [signature restaurants]."
Quoting the Ninth Circuit, the Court noted: "A transfer of ownership requires no "magic words" to satisfy copyright law: even a one-line pro forma statement will do."
The Court found the assignment to be a "clear conveyance".
Practice Tip: An assignee is considered a "beneficial owner" of a copyright under the Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 501(b) and is entitled to sue for infringement. I cover Copyright Ownership and Licensing Litigation in more detail in Chapter 8 of Copyright Litigation Handbook.
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