Jun 09, 2017

Mayo Clinic Sued for Using Copyrighted Charts in Training Courses

Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc. v. Mayo Clinic, 17-cv-00943 (M.D. Fla.); Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc., 17-cv-00941 (D. Minn.); Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc. v. Warrick, 717 F.3d 1112 (10th Cir.)
By Daniel Shen

On April 20, 2017, Dr. Mary Lippitt filed a complaint against Mayo Clinic for the alleged infringement of one of her copyrighted works. Dr. Lippitt had registered various versions of a chart that presents a system for managing complex organizational change (the Managing Complex Change Chart, or “MCC Chart”), and had exclusively licensed those works to Enterprise Management Limited, a consulting firm Dr. Lippitt founded and the joint plaintiff here.


Mayo Clinic’s Quality Academy Charts

In the complaint, Dr. Lippitt alleged that Mayo Clinic had used charts that were nearly identical to her copyrighted works. The disputed charts, pictured above, were used from 2011 to 2015 as part of Mayo Clinic’s training courses in its Quality Academy, offered to approximately 1,400 people per year. The complaint claimed that Mayo Clinic’s charts were “either identical or derivative of Dr. Lippitt’s work” and that “[c]learly, Defendants literally copied the MCC Chart without authorization, or created an unauthorized, clearly derivative work based on [Dr. Lippitt’s copyrighted work],” pictured below.

Dr. Lippitt’s MCC Chart

According to the accounts provided by an action for declaratory judgment filed by Mayo Clinic on March 29, 2017 and Dr. Lippitt’s complaint, initial licensing negotiations between Dr. Lippitt and Mayo Clinic started on August 18, 2016 but had broken down for disputed reasons before each side turned to its legal counsel. In letters exchanged between counsel from both sides, Mayo Clinic first offered $5,000 to Dr. Lippitt to settle the matter, which she countered with a $75,000 demand.

In the exchange of letters, Mayo Clinic claimed that “Lippitt’s materials are not subject to copyright protection,” in part because “copyright law does not protect facts or ideas.” Mayo Clinic included in its action for declaratory judgment Google search results for “complex change management,” stating that the vast majority of the results do not attribute any credit to Dr. Lippitt.

Google Search Results

Mayo Clinic then offered $10,000 to Dr. Lippitt as a “monetary amount in acknowledgement of her research and efforts in the field of managing complex change” and to presumably settle the matter. Dr. Lippitt responded by increasing her proposed settlement to $125,000, citing a previous appeals court decision in Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc. v. Warrick, 717 F.3d 1112, (10th Cir. 2013), also involving Dr. Lippitt’s MCC Chart that found the chart to be copyrightable. That offer was set to expire on March 31, three weeks before Dr. Lippitt’s complaint was filed.