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Rouse v. Walter & Associates, L.L.C.

United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
513 F. Supp. 2d 1041 (2007)


Facts

Dr. Gene Rouse (plaintiff) and Dr. Doyle Wilson (plaintiff) were tenured research professors at Iowa State University (ISU). Rouse and Wilson developed a method of using ultrasounds to determine beef quality in live cattle as part of the sponsored research project. The project included development of a software program called live animal intramuscular fat prediction software (LAIPS). The copyright in the LAIPS program was assigned to the ISU Research Foundation (ISURF). Rouse and Wilson directed Dr. Viren Amin (plaintiff) to create a user interface that was compatible with the Windows operating system after new computers were purchased to allow large numbers of LAIPS images to be processed quickly. Although Amin was not hired as a software developer, he did develop software as a part of his assigned projects, which he often performed from home. The user interface program, USOFT, was never assigned to ISURF. However, upon starting at the university, the plaintiffs each signed a letter of intent that incorporated the ISU faculty handbook by reference. The faculty handbook incorporated the work-for-hire doctrine. ISURF licensed LAIPS and USOFT to Walter & Associates, L.L.C. (Walter) (defendant). Rouse, Wilson, and Amin registered a joint copyright interest in USOFT and then sent a cease-and-desist letter to Walter. Walter continued to use the software. Rouse, Wilson, and Amin sued Walter for copyright infringement. Walter filed a motion for partial summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gritzner, J.)

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