Reply to post:

Steve Wozniak to take stand: $1m suit claiming Woz stole idea for branded tech boot camp goes to trial

Cuddles Silver badge

You can't copyright the idea of a branded thing, but you can copyright the specific designs for the branding. And just because it's your own face doesn't mean someone else can't own the copyright to things like logos and such based on it. The claim here isn't simply that Steve Wozniak copied the idea (although that certianly does seem to be the actual motivation behind it), but rather that the specific details created for one business venture were copied and used for another without permission. If you look at the original filing (linked in the article), the copyright claim would seem to boil down to how similar exhibits H (the original) and J (the second attempt) are to each other.

Which would seem to fall completely flat on the grounds that they don't look anything like each other. Woz U looks like it was thrown together in five minutes by someone with access to a single photo of Wozniak and a generic business/academic text generator. They can't have copied the logo, because it doesn't even have one. Other than containing the word "Woz" and his face appearing somewhere at some point, there is no similarity at all. The Woz Institute of Technology looks like it at least had a competent web designer involved at some point.

So the copyright claim is a valid claim that is allowed to see its day in court, but it's pretty much guaranteed to fail because it's obviously complete nonsense. However, that does still leave the breach of contract, which contrary to the claim in this article, has not been dismissed. The counts that were dismissed were for "money had and received" and "accounting". IANAL, but as far as I can see those were connected claims that basically wanted to see the accounts to know how much money Woz U made, and then have some of it. The breach of contract claim is the only one left that seems to have any legs - the final count is for declaratory relief, which as far as I can tell means the court will officially state that Reilly is in the right and Woz did copy his idea and needs to pay for it. But I don't see how that would mean anything if all the other claims alleging actual damages fail.

So overall, two claims have been dismissed and one doesn't really matter on its own. The copyright claim is techically valid but obviously stupid. The breach of contract claim relies on a verbal agreement, a handshake and a subsequent email, so it's only an implied contract and not actually a signed document. Which looks fairly shaky, but I think does have real legal standing so is probably the only thing keeping the case alive.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon