Ragan v. Berkshire Hathaway Auto, Inc.

Judge: GRASZ
Opinion Date: February 2, 2024

Ronald Ragan, Jr. brought a suit against Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, Inc. (BHA) alleging that the company had copied his car dealership customer intake form (“Guest Sheet”) without his permission, constituting copyright infringement. The case was brought before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Ragan held a certificate of registration for the Guest Sheet issued by the United States Copyright Office and asserted that BHA continued to use the form after acquiring a company that had previously copied and used the Guest Sheet. BHA argued that the Guest Sheet was not copyrightable. The district court agreed with BHA and ruled in its favor. On appeal, Ragan argued that the district court erred in finding the Guest Sheet uncopyrightable. The appeals court, however, upheld the district court’s decision, ruling that the Guest Sheet lacked the requisite originality to be protected under copyright law. The court found that the Guest Sheet, which contained basic questions and prompts, did not exhibit sufficient creativity, and was designed to record, not convey, information. The court also dismissed Ragan’s claim that the district court ignored the statutory presumption of copyright validity granted to the Guest Sheet by the certificate of registration, stating that the copyrightability of the Guest Sheet could be determined by an examination of the Guest Sheet alone. View “Ragan v. Berkshire Hathaway Auto, Inc.” on Justia Law

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