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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 31781
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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My company has copyrighted the handouts that our educational

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My company has copyrighted the handouts that our educational program. We sell these programs to school systems by having them contract for a 3 year or longer period in which we train their staff for use in classrooms. All our materials have the copyright dates listed on the materials. Recently, a school system we have worked with for serveral years has contracted with a company who sells a computer program that incorporates data from our system into their system to give a data picture. Our form formats and program terms have been incorporated into their data system for this school system to use with our program. We heard they were considering the implementation of a data system with their behavior programs but they did not talk to us prior to this. We have asked the Supervisor several times about it. Recently she said they had spent alot of money modifying the computer program to address our system (so that they are not changing implementation of our program) but having the system to address it. We asked to see it and she is scheduling a viewing of the program for us. This is after they have piloted and revised. We never were asked for permission nor have we given permission for them to use our program with it. We have said that the school system can only use our program in the system and duplicate as is. We have also said they cannot distribute our system. Is this a violation of our copyright. We have had copyright since 1982. Who is in violation? The school system or the computer company or both? We do not want to start trouble if this is not a violation as the school system would cancel our current service contract. We are a very small corporation and their contract is one of our larger ones. If we bring this up, we fear our contract would also be cancelled. Do we have grounds for monetary damages?
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm an Intellectual Property litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.

It is likely that the school is certainly liable if they used your intellectual property to create a computer program without your permission as that is outside of what you consider to be the agreement you have with the school.

Whether or not the computer company is liable would depend on whether it knows that the school is violating the copyright or whether the computer company is being duped just as your company has. That would take some investigating to see where that stands.

If you can prove that the school and/or the computer company has violated your copyright, then you would have the right to sue. But, as you mentioned, if you sue, it's likely that you'll lose the account. Thus, you'll have to weigh those options.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The computer specializes in in taking the school system's data and modifying their program to fit school system's needs. So they have seen our forms with copyright visible. Also our process based on our program components. The work with many school systems and had to run into this before. If we sue, we will be blackballed and effectively end contracting in texas It is a good ole boy system. So financial loss occurs either way. Any advice? Really am pissed but feel like we can't do anything. Am looking at retiring in 4-5 years so not sure what to do. Should we seek legal counsel?
I understand your frustration, but you are in a tough position because you've been wronged but if you act, you'll be hurt financially.

Maybe you can work something out for the computer company to agree not to use your programs for any other school system without buying a license from you, etc.

I think you'll be best served by getting an attorney to speak with both the school and the computer company to try and reach an agreement.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Will we lose copyright if we do nothing?
No, you still have a copyright. You would basically be allowing this use for free.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
If I do nothing will I still have my copyright?
Yes, you'll still own your copyright.
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