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University Denies Infringement Allegations from Former Employee

Drexel University Claims that Former Employee is not the Copyright Holder for Academic Courses

On May 11, 2020, Dr. Sharon Griswold (“Griswold”) filed a Complaint against her former employer Drexel University (“Drexel” or the “University”), claiming that the University was using her intellectual property without her permission. Griswold claims that she was the creator and owner of courses in the Medical and Health Simulation Program provided by Drexel. She asserts that these courses are still being taught at the University despite that she is no longer working for the University. We previously reported on the Complaint here.

Drexel filed its Answer to the Complaint in which the University denies the Griswold's allegations of infringement. The Answer claims that Griswold was placed on administrative leave "pending the outcome of an investigation that was initiated in reference to a complaint filed against Plaintiff... after Plaintiff threatened to burn down the building where classes for the Program were held." The University alleges that Griswold was upset about being placed on administrative leave and "took several steps to retaliate against Drexel" which included having "other faculty members assign intellectual property rights to her" in order to "lock up the Program, sabotage its existing and prospective faculty relationships, and prevent Drexel from fulfilling its obligations to students already enrolled in the Program."

In response to Griswold's copyright infringement claims, Drexel admits that the courses in the Medical and Health Simulation Program are still being taught by other members of its faculty. However, Drexel denies that the courses are owned by the Griswold. The University claims that Griswold did not lead “all phases of development of courses” but rather that "she also worked in collaboration with other faculty members, some of whom designed their own courses and some of whom worked with Griswold to develop certain courses." Due to this alleged collaboration, Drexel argues that the program’s courses are not the Plaintiff’s “protected expression.”

We will continue to provide updates on this lawsuit as they become available.