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By Anandashankar Mazumdar
Dec. 1 — A federal district court correctly ruled that U.S. copyright law does not extend protection over a chiropractic procedure for examining and diagnosing a patient, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled Nov. 30.
Affirming a dismissal of copyright claims, the court noted that a video demonstration of examination offered to chiropractors was made from scratch and not copied from a plaintiff's video.
Furthermore, a patient form accompanying the video was a blank form that was not a work of expression protected by copyright law, the court said.
To the extent that the plaintiff was actually trying to assert exclusive rights in a procedure for examining and diagnosing a patient, this too was not protectable under copyright law, according to the court.
Concentro Laboratories LLC of Casa Grande, Ariz., claimed rights in a “peripheral neuropathy program” and has registered copyright interests in various marketing and informational materials, including an instructional video accompanied by a fill-in-the-blanks-type form.
Erich Breitenmoser is a chiropractor from Switzerland who established Practice Wealth Ltd. in Temecula, Calif., a company that offers advice, coaching and training seminars and materials to chiropractic service providers.
Practice Wealth began offering information to its clients on examining and diagnosing peripheral neuropathy, including videos and a blank form to be used while examining a patient.
Concentro sued Practice Wealth, alleging infringement of its copyrights in the “Protected Neuropathy System and/or Neuropathy Product.” Concentro also alleged misappropriation of trade secrets and other claims.
Judge Sam R. Cummings of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment in favor of Practice Wealth, after finding that Practice Wealth had not copied Concentro's video.
The district court said that it seemed that Concentro was trying to assert copyright protection not just in the video but in the “procedure, process, system or method” of examining a patient for peripheral neuropathy and making a diagnosis, which is not permitted under the Copyright Act. Concentro appealed.
In a per curiam ruling, the appeals court agreed with the district court that there was no evidence that the video was copied, that the form was an unprotected blank form, and that Concentro could not assert exclusive rights in its examination and diagnostic procedure.
The appellate panel comprised Judges Jacques L. Wiener Jr., Stephen A. Higginson and Gregg Jeffrey Costa.
Concentro was represented by Moster Law Firm P.C., Lubbock, Texas. Practice Wealth was represented by McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf LLP, Lubbock, Texas.
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