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Copyright Blog

Infringement in the Lab

University of Tulsa professor files suit against the University for alleged infringement

On February 8, 2021, Jagan Mahadevan (the "Plaintiff"), filed a Complaint against Mohan Kelkar, Winona Tanaka, and the University of Tulsa (jointly the "Defendants"). The Plaintiff claims that the Defendants infringed his copyrights by publishing his research and work without his permission.

As set forth in the Complaint, the Plaintiff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Petroleum Engineering. The Plaintiff claims to have organized and conducted research and created his own unique programs at the University of Tulsa. As part of his research, the Plaintiff asserts that he created copyright eligible material which he registered with the U.S. Copyright Office (the "Copyrighted Works").

The Plaintiff alleges that a graduate student involved in his research, Prem Bikkina, encountered contaminated materials in a study. According to the Plaintiff, when asked to repeat the experiments, Bikkina quit working with Plaintiff's research group. Bikkina then allegedly conducted his own experiments with contaminated materials and brought his findings to the Defendants. According to the Plaintiff, he has filed a separate copyright infringement lawsuit against Bikkina (4:30-CV-0536).

According to the Plaintiff, Bikkina received approval from the Defendants to publish his research. However, Plaintiff informed the Defendants that "[Plaintiff] could not participate in such publication as the samples were contaminated." The Plaintiff further alleges that he "never agreed to let his already written Copyrighted Works be published."

The Plaintiff alleged he also informed the Defendants of ethical violations related to the research and publication of the Copyrighted Works, and that proper inquiry was not conducted into the allegations. Finally, the Plaintiff asserts the Defendants "framed" him "under their harassment policy, and participated in coordinated misrepresentation of facts of Plaintiff’s copyright rights to a state court in retaliation for Plaintiff’s effort to protect his rights under the copyright laws."

We will provide updates as they become available.