Tuesday, June 29, 2010

8th Cir: Famous Dave's Magic Words: Copyright Assignments and Settlement Agreements

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.

Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook from West here  

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