Microsoft Escapes Copyright Claims for Misappropriation of DRM Tech

Written May 6, 2019

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on May 2, 2019, upheld the dismissal of Media Rights Technologies Inc.’s (MRT) copyright infringement claims against Microsoft Corp., ruling that MRT should have raised the claims in its 2013 patent infringement suit against Microsoft. Media Rights Techs., Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 9th Cir., No. 17-16509, 5/2/19.

In the early 2000s, MRT claims it developed the first digital rights management (DRM) technology; DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works such as software. MRT claimed that Microsoft developed similar technology after an agreement between them to implement the technology in Microsoft’s products fell through.

MRT sued Microsoft in 2013 for patent infringement. Affirming in part, the Ninth Circuit held that claim preclusion barred MRT’s claims; they concluded that the claims all arose from the same events—Microsoft’s alleged misappropriation of MRT’s software. Reversing in part, the court held that claim preclusion did not bar MRT from asserting copyright infringement claims that accrued after it filed its patent-infringement suit.