3rd Cir. Finds Programmer Abandoned Marketing Software Rights

Written May 21, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on May 18, 2020, held that computer programmer Peter Brownstein does not own a copyright stake in an updated ethnicity prediction program because he had relinquished his rights to the program. Peter Brownstein v. Tina Lindsay, 2020 BL 184102, 3d Cir., No. 18-3711, 5/18/20.

Brownstein developed coding to convert ethnicity predicting rules, written by then-coworker Tina Lindsay, into a computer program used to help marketers reach consumers. The pair signed away rights to their initial program to their employer at the time, List Services Direct Inc.

Brownstein sued Lindsay and her company Ethnic Technologies Inc. in 2010 to claim rights to later versions of the software developed by the pair before they parted ways. But the Court found that the pair’s former employer owned the program while only Lindsay had rights to the rules because Brownstein failed to show he made relevant contributions to the newer work.