The Motorcycle Safety Foundation filed a lawsuit against Oregon State University, its president, and also against Stephen Garets, both individually and in his official capacity as director of the Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program of OSU, charging the parties with copyright infringement and violation of the MSFs rights under the Lanham Act.
The suit, filed in United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that the defendants willfully misappropriated the MSFs motorcycle safety and training curriculum materials in connection with the development and publication of Team Oregons Basic Rider Training (BRT) curriculum materials, and prepared derivative works based on the MSFs copyrighted curricula. It also alleges that the defendants have sought to distribute the misappropriated curriculum outside the state of Oregon.
The suit further alleges that the defendants falsely associated the MSF with, and identified the MSF as an endorser of, the Team Oregon BRT, and that, in naming the BRT, they infringed on MSFs service marks in its current curriculum, the Basic RiderCourse SM (BRC).
The suit seeks to permanently enjoin the defendants from using the Team Oregon BRT, or any other product that infringes upon the MSFs copyrights, as well as from marketing or offering the Team Oregon BRT to other states or entities, and from making false endorsements.
“The MSF attempted on multiple occasions to resolve these issues without a lawsuit, but Oregon State University and Mr. Garets were unwilling to stop their unlawful conduct,” said Stuart Philip Ross, an attorney with the law firm of Ross, Dixon amp; Bell, LLP. “After Team Oregon began attempting to market, distribute and offer the BRT curriculum materials to motorcycle safety programs in other states, and it became clear OSU would not prohibit this activity, the MSF had no choice but to take legal action to protect its intellectual property rights.”
“The MSF has worked with the state of Oregon in connection with motorcycle safety training and policy for more than 20 years, and continues to support Oregon motorcyclists,” said Dean Thompson, director, communications of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. “The MSF currently works with the Oregon Division of Driver and Motor Vehicle Services on licensing issues. In fact, the MSF granted permission to Oregon, as it has to other states, to use content from MSFs Motorcycle Operator Manual in the 2005-2006 Oregon Motorcycle amp; Moped Manual.”
“This is the first time in its history that the MSF has initiated legal action,” Thompson said. “We would prefer to focus on our mission of making motorcycling safer and more enjoyable. But if an organization does not protect its intellectual property rights, it can lose them. The MSF does not object to another entity developing a different basic riding curriculum. However, the MSF does take issue with any entity that takes a shortcut by misappropriating the MSFs curriculum and misrepresenting it as its own.”