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Asset Marketing Systems, Inc. v. Gagnon

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
542 F.3d 748 (2008)


Kevin Gagnon (plaintiff) acted as an independent information-technology contractor for Asset Marketing Systems, Incorporated (AMS) (defendant). Gagnon maintained AMS’s computer systems and built custom programs or modified existing programs to meet AMS’s operational needs. In exchange for Gagnon’s work, AMS paid Gagnon about $2 million over four years. In May 2000, AMS and Gagnon entered a one-year technical-services agreement (TSA) that detailed Gagnon’s services for AMS. The TSA stated that Gagnon would complete custom-application programming for AMS, but it did not mention licensing or future costs. In June 2003, Gagnon proposed an outside-vendor agreement (OVA) that stated Gagnon would retain all copyrights and patents in any custom work, but that AMS had a non-exclusive, unlimited license in any programs developed for AMS. AMS did not sign the contract, and at the end of June 2003, AMS decided to terminate the relationship with Gagnon. Gagnon and AMS created a plan for Gagnon to cease work by September 15, 2003. Between June and October, AMS and Gagnon made demands of each other related to the custom programs and the source code, with each asserting ownership of the programs. Gagnon sued AMS for copyright infringement, and AMS moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion, and Gagnon appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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