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South Central Bell Telephone Co. v. Barthelemy

643 So. 2d 1240 (1994)

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South Central Bell Telephone Co. v. Barthelemy

Louisiana Supreme Court

643 So. 2d 1240 (1994)

Facts

South Central Bell Telephone Company (Bell) (plaintiff) used two types of software in operating a telephone system in the City of New Orleans (defendant). Bell licensed the software from vendors. The first type of software, switching-system software, was delivered to Bell on magnetic tapes. The second type of software, data-processing software, was transmitted electronically to Bell’s modem and then loaded and stored in Bell’s computers. The city tax code allowed for the taxation of tangible personal property. The city determined that both types of software amounted to tangible property and taxed Bell for the use of the software. Bell paid the taxes under protest but then filed suit against the city to recover the taxes paid under protest, claiming that the software was not tangible property. The trial court held that the software was not tangible personal property and therefore was not taxable. The city appealed. The court of appeal upheld the trial court’s decision, holding that the software was incorporeal property because it was intellectual property. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the city’s writ of certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hall, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Watson, J.)

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