Saturday, December 19, 2009

On labeling someone an expert in intellectual property

There is an assertion of plagiarism as to words used by one Lynn Vakay which were not attributed to Hillsdale College Professor Gary Wolfram.

What caught the eye of IPBiz was the following text:

USC Professor Jonathan Aronson, an expert in intellectual property, said Vakay's column constituted plagiarism - despite the fact Wolfram had given her permission to use his ideas.

"In my view, it is improper what she did," Aronson said, adding it would have been a non-issue if she would have merely mentioned the source of the ideas.

"Is it actionable?" he said. "Nobody's going to sue her about it. She should be embarrassed by it."

As IPBiz has noted before, plagiarism and copyright infringement are two different things, with only the latter actionable under Federal law. The presence of permission in this case would seem to remove the issue of copyright infringement. And, noboby COULD SUE for plagiarism. As to issues under trademark law concerning false designation of source, perhaps Aronson needs to review the Dastar case.

Of the credentials of Jonathan D. Aronson:

A.B. Harvard University, 1971
Ph.D. Stanford University, 1976
Fellowships Council on Foreign Relations
European Community’s Visitor’s Program

Annenberg School of Communication and
School of International Relations.

IPBiz has a query to Brandon Lowrey, the author of the story mentioned above. What makes Professor Aronson an expert in intellectual property?


Yes, I plagiarized wherein Lynn Vakay concludes:

As to what I might have done differently, I believe I should have taken the time to allow someone else to review my column and allow them to read Wolfram's column and look at them for similarities. I wish I had done that.

There are no excuses and it is no one's responsibility but mine.

I accept that and again apologize.


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