Stereo Optical Co. v. Judy, No. 08 C 2512, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 1, 2010) (Kocoras, J.)

Judge Kocoras granted defendants’ (collectively “Vision”) summary judgment as to plaintiff Stereo Optical’s copyright infringement claim. The Court denied the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment as to Stereo Optical’s related state law claims. Stereo Optical alleged that Vision, many of whom were Stereo Optical’s former employees, misappropriated, and sold in competition with Stereo Optical, Stereo Optical’s copyright-protected stereopsis vision tests. Stereo Optical did not mark the tests at issue with a copyright notice between 1980 and 1988. Between 1978 and 1988 a copyrightholder was required to add a copyright notice to publicly distributed copies of a work. 

Where the copyrightholder was responsible for distributing unmarked copies, the work entered the public domain unless: 1) only a “relatively small” number of unmarked copies were distributed; or 2) the copyright was registered within five years after the unmarked copies were distributed and “reasonable efforts” were made to add the missing notice. Stereo Optical made no argument that its distribution was “relatively small.” And Stereo Optical made no efforts to replace the missing markings. The Court, therefore, granted summary judgment for Vision as to the copyright claim. The Court denied both parties summary judgment as to Stereo Optical’s state law claims because the parties contested essentially all of each other’s statements of material fact.