Douglas James Weihnacht v. WestEd

In 2014, DisputeSoft was engaged as a software intellectual property expert by WestEd in the matter of Douglas James Weihnacht, individually and dba Schematic Media v. WestEd, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 5:14-cv-01564-BLF.

Plaintiff asserted a copyright infringement claim in WestEd’s audiovisual work titled, “Voyage to the Galapagos,” an educational Flash application designed to aide students in learning about Darwin’s theory of evolution. Plaintiff had registered a copyright in a previous audiovisual work of the same title in 2002. The accused work, which was derived in part on the registered work under a license agreement, also included two separate software modules for which Plaintiff had not contributed any expressive content.

DisputeSoft first examined the registered version of “Voyage to Galapagos” for copyright-protectable audio-visual elements and found that the audio-visual elements of the work for which Plaintiff possessed a copyright had in fact been authored by others, all of whom were independent contractors who had not assigned their rights to Plaintiff – and no assignments were produced. In addition, the previous work had been registered and published more than 10 years before the copyright lawsuit was filed, hence the five-year rule providing a presumption of copyright validity did not apply. Moreover, DisputeSoft found that the audiovisual elements in the accused work in which Plaintiff claimed joint ownership were significantly dissimilar from those in the registered work. DisputeSoft also found that Plaintiff had played a limited role in the WestEd “Voyage to Galapagos” project and that his contributions were limited to a subset of the features in the sole module on which he had worked.

DisputeSoft Managing Partner and intellectual property software expert Jeff Parmet proffered an expert report in April 2015. The case settled in July 2015.

Some of DisputeSoft’s software copyright infringement experts who worked on this case were Brendan McParland, and Josh Siegel.

For a description of the services we provide as software copyright infringement experts, please click here.