A Reminder to Open Your Mail

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling in Evergreen Safety Council v. RSA Network, 697 F.3d 1221 (9th Cir. 2012) that should remind everyone to open his mail.  In 1991 RSA worked with the state of Utah to develop a certification program for pilot escort vehicles.  In developing this program, RSA drafted a manual.  In 1999, the state of Washington, through its agent Evergreen, developed a similar certification program based on the Utah program.  After a conversation with RSA, Evergreen sent RSA a letter enclosing a copy of the draft manual for the Washington program and asking for RSA’s input.  In response to a suit for declaratory judgment of non-infringment brought by Evergreen, RSA counterclaimed for copyright infringement.  RSA claimed that it never opened the 1999 letter and was not aware of the contents of the letter until 2010.  The court of appeals upheld the grant of summary judgment to Evergreen on the basis of laches.  The court held that the laches began to run on the day that RSA received the draft manual in 1999 because this was when RSA should have known about the infringement.  The court held that the ten year delay caused both evidentiary prejudice and expectations-based prejudice.

If you have questions about this opinion or about its impact on you or your business, feel free to contact Jason E. Voyles.