SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd.

Docket Number: 21-1542
Judge: Jimmie V. Reyna
Opinion Date: April 6, 2023

SAS creates and sells software used for data access, management, analysis, and presentation. The SAS System allows users to input user-written programs into its graphical user interface to complete analytics tasks. Users write commands in SAS’s programming language. An earlier version of the SAS System is in the public domain. SAS has copyright registrations that cover various aspects of the SAS System. WPL created a competitor, the WPS System, which uses the SAS Language to allow users to run user-written programs to complete analytics tasks such as data access, management, analysis, and presentation. SAS sued WPL, alleging copyright infringement of the SAS System and SAS user manuals.

The district court first concluded that SAS possessed valid copyright registrations covering SAS’s asserted software, then determined that WPL provided evidence that showed the software program elements were not within the scope of protection under copyright law. Applying the abstraction-filtration-comparison test, the district court determined that SAS failed to establish copyrightability.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The court interpreted “copyrightability” as meaning whether the specific elements of a copyrighted work that are asserted in a copyright infringement action fall within the scope of protection extended to that particular work under copyright law. The district court acted properly in conducting a pretrial “Copyrightability Hearing.” View “SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd.” on Justia Law

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