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Triad v. Southeastern Express

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Citation Edit

Triad Sys. Corp. v. Southeastern Express Co., 1994 WL 446049, 31 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1239 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 18, 1994), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 64 F.3d 1330, 36 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1028 (9th Cir. 1995) (full-text), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1145 (1996).

Factual Background Edit

Triad, a computer manufacturer, sued Southeastern Express, an independent service organization that serviced Triad hardware, for copyright infringement. Triad claimed that Southeastern used Triad's operating system software and utilities programs when repairing Triad machines, and that such acts constituted copyright infringement. Southeastern counterclaimed for antitrust violations, alleging Triad had violated the antitrust laws, and arguing that Triad had leveraged its legitimately obtained monopoly in software to gain a monopoly position in the market for servicing of Triad computers, and also claimed that its use of the Triad software constit]uted a fair use.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

Triad moved for summary judgment after the MAI v. Peak decision was issued by the Ninth Circuit. The district court ruled in Triad's favor on its copyright infringement claim. The court rejected the defendant's claim that the software was not sufficently fixed when loaded into the computer's memory, stating:

[C]opyright law is not so much concerned with the temporal "duration" of a copy as it is with what that copy does, and what it is capable of doing, while it exists. "Transitory duration" is a relative term that must be interpreted and applied in context.

The district judge, however, refused to grant Triad's summary judgment motion on the fair use issue, finding that at least some of the fair use factors weighed in Southeastern's favor.

The judge bifurcated the trial, allowing the copyright infringement claim to be tried first. The judge issued findings of fact on the fair use issue and judgment was entered against Southeastern. Based on the judgment, the judge granted Triad a permanent injunction, which was stayed pending appeal.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

Rejecting Southeastern's claim of fair use, the court of appeals found that the services that Southeastern performed provided no public benefit, stating that "we detect no appreciable public benefit arising from Southeastern's practice to justify this continuance under the fair use doctrine."

The court also held that "Triad invented, developed, and marketed its software to enable its customers and its own technicians to service Triad computers. Southeastern is getting a free ride when it uses that software to perform precisely the same services."

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