Bilbbero Systems, Inc. v. Colwell Systems, Inc., 893 F.2d 1104 (1990) p112
Copyrightable material - forms
Supplier of billing forms filed copyright infringement action against a competitor. Plaintiff contends that defendant infringed upon its copyright by duplicating its medical insurance claim form.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Thelton E. Henderson, granted summary judgment to the competitor. Appeal and cross appeal were taken.
Whether a billing form is copyrightable.
Billing forms known as "superbills" which doctors used to obtain reimbursement from patients' insurers were uncopyrightable blank forms; forms were merely blank forms which gave doctors convenient method for recording services performed and instructions on how to file insurance claim using forms were not "text."
The holding of the district court is upheld that the billing form is not copyrightable.
A form only becomes creative material when text is added to it. In this case the text is not added until the individual doctor fills it out. The Court of Appeals, Goodwin, Chief
Judge, held that: (1) billing forms known "superbills" which doctors used to obtain reimbursement from patients' insurers were uncopyrightable blank forms, and (2) the competitor was not entitled to attorney fees as a prevailing defendant, absent a showing that the suit had been filed in bad faith, even though the competitor prevailed on summary judgment as a matter of law. Exception to blank forms rule exists if forms have explanatory force by virtue of accompanying copyrightable text which is integrated with blank forms.