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Computer Associates International v. Altai, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
982 F.2d 693 (2d Cir. 1992)


Facts

Computer Associates International (CA) (plaintiff) created a computer scheduling program called CA-SCHEDULER. Part of CA-SCHEDULER was the ADAPTER, which was able to translate the language of the program into the languages of various computer operating systems (e.g., DOS, VSE, MVS) so that CA-SCHEDULER could run on all operating systems. Altai, Inc. (Altai) (defendant) manufactured its own computer scheduling program called ZEKE that ran only on the VSE operating system. Altai hired Claude Arney, a former CA employee, to create a version of ZEKE that was compatible with the MVS operating system. Altai did not know it at the time, but Arney was “intimately familiar” with CA’s ADAPTER. Arney created a similar translator for Altai, called OSCAR 3.4, that was approximately 30% copied from ADAPTER. CA filed a copyright infringement suit against Altai, at which point, Altai decided to remake OSCAR to remove all aspects of ADAPTER. Altai created OSCAR 3.5 without the help of Arney or anyone familiar with ADAPTER. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (District Court) found that OSCAR 3.4 infringed on CA’s copyright, but that OSCAR 3.5 did not. Altai appealed only with respect to the District Court’s finding on OSCAR 3.5.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Walker, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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