State Analysis, Inc. v. American Financial Services Assoc.

621 F. Supp. 2d 309 (2009)

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State Analysis, Inc. v. American Financial Services Assoc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
621 F. Supp. 2d 309 (2009)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

State Analysis, Inc. (StateScape) (plaintiff) owned and operated a searchable, proprietary, and copyrighted database of bills and regulations. StateScape’s software downloaded legislation, and StateScape’s employees examined and catalogued the legislation for customers. StateScape sold access to its database on a subscription basis, and customers received a unique username and password. From 1998 through 2008, American Financial Services Association (AFSA) (defendant) had a contractual subscription to StateScape’s database. Under the contract terms, AFSA could provide StateScape access to AFSA’s member businesses, and each member then received a unique username and password. Kimbell Sherman Ellis (KSE) (defendant) was a government-relations firm located in Montpelier, Vermont. KSE had a one-year subscription to StateScape between 1999 and 2000. Thereafter, KSE became a competitor of StateScape with a database product called FOCUS. In 2003, KSE hired two former StateScape employees, a former marketing director and a former researcher. In 2008, AFSA informed StateScape that it planned to switch to KSE’s product. StateScape then conducted a forensic analysis and discovered that, from about 2004 to 2008, StateScape’s database had been accessed 735 times from a computer in Montpelier, Vermont, using three usernames associated with AFSA employees who worked in Washington, D.C. KSE had never been a member of AFSA. StateScape also discovered that KSE had prepared a number of materials and bill summaries for AFSA that looked markedly similar to StateScape’s content. StateScape believed that KSE had wrongfully accessed its database and copied StateScape’s copyrighted materials. StateScape sued AFSA and KSE alleging numerous claims, including copyright infringement, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and violation of Virginia’s Computer Crimes Act (CCA). AFSA and KSE filed motions to dismiss.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brinkema, J.)

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