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Copyright Blog

Diagnosis: More Alleged Infringement

Another university is being sued for infringing on copyright in drug assessment tool

On April 12, 2021, MMAS Research LLC ("MMAS") and Dr. Donald E. Morisky ("Morisky") (MMAS and Morisky jointly "Plaintiffs") filed suit against the University of Massachusetts and various researchers who have conducted medical research studies at the university (collectively "Defendants"). The Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that the Defendants violated the Plaintiff's copyright in a medical diagnostic tool called the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (the "Scale"). On April 5, 2021, we reported on a similar suit filed against Duke University in late March.

The Scale is basically a carefully worded questionnaire and scoring system that allows doctors to evaluate whether patients are faithfully taking their medication and why they might not be. The questionnaire comes in a 4 question version and an 8 question version, and a "widget" is available that allows the questions to be administered and scored through software. All of these are proprietary and copyrighted, and the Plaintiffs customarily license them out to users, including researchers. According to the Plaintiffs, the Scale is well-known and well-regarded in the medical community.

According to the Complaint, the Defendants had used the Scale in conducting their research studies before seeking licenses and also after the terms of their licenses expired. In addition, the Defendants had published supposedly proprietary (but factually incorrect) information about the Scale and its scoring when reporting the results of their studies.

The Plaintiffs claim to have suffered damages as a result of these uses, based on copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trade secret misappropriation theories. They seek injunctive relief, statutory damages, compensatory damages, and other relief. The Defendants have not yet filed a response to the Complaint. Updates will be provided as they become available.