Nielsen Co. v. Truck Ads, LLC

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 08-29-2011
  • Case #: 08 C 6446
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: U.S. District Court, Eastern Division of Northern Illinois; Before: Pallmeyer
  • Full Text Opinion

In order for an item to qualify for a valid copyright it only needs to have a small amount of originality.

For full opinion:
2011 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 96412
2011 WL 3857122

Opinion (Pallmeyer): Nielsen Co. (“Nielsen”) created “Designated Market Area” maps with advertising and demographic information for television, radio, print and the internet. Nielsen claimed that Truck Ads, LLC (“Truck Ads”) unlawfully infringed it’s copyright for DMA maps for 2002-2005. Truck Ads challenged the validity of Nielsen’s copyright based on the fact that Nielsen’s map were not an original idea but were copied and should be considered part of the public domain since it lacked originality and thus could not be protected by copyright. The level of originality required under the copyright act is “extremely low; even a slight amount will suffice” it only needs to be “readily distinguishable from its predecessors.” Similarity between Nielsen’s maps and its predecessor did not destroy Nielsen’s copyright. The merger doctrine does not apply because there was more than one feasible way to express the map idea. The maps were copyrightable because television market areas are not “facts” that are devoid of copyright protection. The maps and their boundaries were protectable under the copyright act. Whether Truck Ads copied is a question for the jury. Nielsen’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED-IN-PART.

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