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Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp.

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of claims of copyright infringement, violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and breach of contract.

Media Rights Technologies, Inc. (“MRT”) developed a technology to protect electronic files from content piracy. MRT claimed that Microsoft Corp. developed a similar technology following exchanges between the parties and in doing so used information learned from MRT. In 2013, MRT brought a patent infringement suit against Microsoft. Later, MRT filed this suit.

The panel held that claim preclusion would apply if the patent infringement suit involved the same claim or cause of action as the later suit, reached a final judgment on the merits, and involved identical parties or privies. The parties disagreed whether MRT could have raised its claims in the prior patent infringement suit (on the theory they did not accrue until after commencement of that action) and whether the two suits involved the same claim or cause of action.

Affirming in part, the panel held that claim preclusion barred MRT’s claims that had accrued at the time of its patent infringement action: namely, copyright infringement claims arising from the sale of Microsoft products before MRT filed its patent infringement suit; the DCMA claim; and the breach of contract claims. The panel concluded that these claims all arose from the same events—Microsoft’s alleged misappropriation of MRT’s software—as the prior patent infringement claims and merely offered different legal theories for why Microsoft’s alleged conduct was wrongful. The panel held that the two suits involved the same claims or causes of action.

Reversing in part, the panel held that claim preclusion did not bar MRT from asserting copyright infringement claims that accrued after it filed its patent-infringement suit: namely, claims arising from the sale of Microsoft products after MRT filed its patent infringement suit.

Download Media Rights Technologies Inc. v. Microsoft Corp.


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