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The Secret's Out: Springdale School District Allegedly Infringed Marenem Inc.'s "Secret Stories"

Company Files Complaint After Discovering Arkansas School District's Copying and Distribution of Their Materials

On April 10, 2023, Marenem Inc. (“Marenem”) filed a Complaint against the Springdale School District (“Springdale”) for copyright infringement.

Marenem, Inc. is owned by Katherine ("Katherine") and Richard ("Richard") Garner (collectively the "Garners"). Richard serves as Marenem’s President, and Katherine is the “author and creator of Marenem’s SECRET STORIES book and program materials.” According to the Complaint, Katherine is featured at many educational conferences as a keynote speaker and has a large following of almost 100,000 via her blog and other social media platforms where she shares her findings. She is responsible for creating Marenem’s program that implements a “unique neuroscience-based approach to reading.” The Marenem SECRET STORIES book and sound graphic materials use this program to help children improve their reading and writing skills through the use of short mnemonic stories.

These materials are available for purchase from Marenem in many different formats. Customers can purchase flashcards, sound graphics, and the SECRET STORIES book in different kits and sizes.

The first Secret Stories book was registered with the Copyright Office on April 27, 2001. Over the years that would follow, the works were continually revised, copyrighted, and republished several times. Marenem took many steps to ensure that its intellectual property rights were protected by intentionally making it difficult to copy the posters and by conducting regular internet searches to ensure that the works were not being reproduced without consent or being made available to the general public.

While conducting one of the standard internet searches during the summer of 2021, Katherine found that teachers from the Springdale School District of Arkansas were apparently “making and using illegal copies of Marenem’s sound graphics posters and SECRET STORIES books.” These illegal copies were made available (possibly to this day) to students and the general public through Springdale’s YouTube account. At the time when the videos were published, no Marenem products had been purchased by Springdale school members since 2018. The 2018 purchase included only “two Space Saver kits and eight flashcard sets.” The videos themselves, as well as the copies used on the Springdale YouTube channel, were allegedly unauthorized copies and uses of Marenem’s work.

Marenem believes that Springdale may also have many other infringing copies of Marenem’s protected works throughout many of its schools made accessible through a file-sharing program.

Springdale’s unlawful use of Marenem’s program and works has allegedly caused a decrease in its “potential market, brand awareness, goodwill, control over intellectual properties, and sales.”

According to the Complaint, upon finding the infringing copies and unlawful use of their work, the Garners reached out to Springdale to resolve the matter without involving a lawsuit. However, the school district allegedly refused to answer them. After several unsuccessful attempts to work with Springdale, the Garners filed a complaint against the school district. Marenem is seeking statutory damages and injunctive relief from the school district.

This case is ongoing. We will provide updates as they are made available.