Fifth Circuit Nixes Statutory Damages Award in Hospital Form Copyright Clash

Written January 14, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on January 9, 2020, held that statutory damage awards are not available when a defendant infringes in one way before the copyright was registered and another way after registration. Southern Credentialing Support v. Hammond Surgical Hospital, LLC, et al, 5th Cir., No. 18-31160, 1/9/20.

Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital used Southern Credentialing Support Services LLC’s healthcare credentialing forms without authorization. Southern had provided the forms to Cypress from 2010 to 2013 and sued the hospital after learning that Cypress was still using its forms after the companies had parted ways. The lower court ruled that the hospital infringed and awarded statutory damages.

The Fifth Circuit reversed in part, finding that though the hospital infringed, copyright law doesn’t allow statutory damages for infringement that begins before the copyright was registered, and Southern registered its copyrights for packets of its forms in 2014, after its relationship with Cypress had ended.