LIFLAND, District Judge
Presently before the Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c).
Plaintiff is a clinical cosmetologist. During the years of 1987 through 1990, plaintiff performed cosmetological services for seriously disfigured patients on a referral basis from doctors at St. Barnabas Medical Center ("St. Barnabas") and elsewhere. (Complaint, P 5.)
In late summer of 1990, plaintiff initiated contact with St. Barnabas for the purpose of discussing the creation of a clinical cosmetology center at St. Barnabas to treat burn victims and other disfigured patients. (Complaint, P 6.) On March 22, 1991, plaintiff met with officials of St. Barnabas to discuss the matter. Plaintiff alleges that at that meeting she gave defendants certain "copyrighted materials relating to the clinical cosmetology system that she had pioneered." (Complaint, P 7.) Defendants then allegedly requested plaintiff to produce a business plan. (Complaint, P 8.) On July 26, 1991, plaintiff delivered this business plan, also copyrighted, to defendants, who then requested certain revisions. (Complaint, P 9.) Plaintiff further states that at a meeting on August 16, 1991, defendants represented to her that they wished to enter into an agreement with plaintiff. Details of the contract were negotiated. (Complaint, P 10.)
The complaint indicates that at some point after the August 1991 meeting, defendants became ambivalent about entering into a contract with plaintiff. (Complaint, PP 11-13.) However, on March 5, 1992 and October 13, 1992 plaintiff made further presentations to defendants and made her copyrighted materials available to them.
(Complaint, PP 14 and 16.) On November 3, 1992, plaintiff received a letter from defendants advising her that they had decided to open a clinical cosmetology center themselves. Plaintiff states that she immediately went to visit the hospital and observed that the center was already opened and was designed in the manner which she had proposed to defendants. (Complaint, PP 18 and 19.)
Plaintiff's sole federal claim is copyright infringement, i.e., that defendants copied her copyrighted work which she had made available to them at various meetings. Plaintiff also alleges three state law claims: breach of implied covenant, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of confidence.
Defendants now move for summary judgment on the issue of copyright infringement and for dismissal of the remaining state claims.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) provides that summary judgment shall be granted:
if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
The burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists rests initially on the moving party. Once the moving party has shown that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). There is no issue for trial unless the non-moving party can demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party to enable a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict in that party's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The court must view the facts and inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748, 97 S. Ct. 732 (1977).
Defendants do not dispute that plaintiff's business proposal may be copyrightable. They do dispute, however, whether plaintiff is entitled to the ownership of the ideas contained in that proposal. Defendants argue that plaintiff has alleged in her complaint and has stated in her answers to their interrogatories that defendants have simply copied her "ideas," which are not copyrightable under § 102 of the Copyright Act. Defendants also argue that at no point in her complaint or answers to their interrogatories does plaintiff refer to any document created by defendants that copies plaintiff's expressions of her ideas.
Section 102(a), though broad in scope, does not protect mere "ideas": "in no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." 17 U.S.C. § 102(b). Rather, copyright protects an author's particular expression of an idea. Universal Athletic Sales Co. v. Salkeld, 511 F.2d 904, 907 (3d Cir. 1975), cert. denied sub nom, Universal Athletic Sales Co. v. Pinchock, 423 U.S. 863, 46 L. Ed. 2d 92, 96 S. Ct. 122 (1975). G.D. Searle v. Philips-Miller & Associates, 836 F. Supp. 520, 524 (N.D. Ill. 1993). Additionally, "copying is a shorthand reference to the act of infringing any of the copyright owner's five exclusive rights set forth at 17 U.S.C. § 106." Ford Motor Co. v. Summit Motor Products, Inc., 930 F.2d 277, 291 (3d Cir. 1991). These rights are the right to distribute and reproduce copies, perform the work publicly, display the work, and prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work.
In her complaint, plaintiff alleges that "plaintiff is the sole owner of all rights, title and interest in the copyrighted system that was divulged to the defendants," that "defendants copied plaintiff's system" and that "defendants have unlawfully appropriated plaintiff's work by using plaintiff's expressions of her ideas and her system to create their own clinical cosmetology center." (Complaint, PP 20-22.) At no point in the complaint does plaintiff allege the existence of a document wherein defendants copied her work. Indeed, it appears from the complaint that the only form of "copying" allegedly done by defendants is the creation of the cosmetology center itself.
Plaintiff's responses to defendants' interrogatories also indicate that plaintiff's copyright claim arises out of defendants' alleged use of her ideas. In response to defendants' request that she "identify all of [the] materials that plaintiff asserts were copied and/or appropriated by defendants," plaintiff stated:
Clinic concept and idea contained [in?] a proposal and business plan and service and products offered, specifically corrective pigmentation services, hair replacement services all of which are either custom made or pre-made and used for the purpose of normalizing the appearance of facial anomalies, pigmentation anomalies, hair loss resulting from injury, illness, or disorder. It can also be used to create symmetry and enhance one's appearance. The business name Clinical Cosmetology Center.
(Def. 12(G) Statement, p. 2.)
In order to clarify any ambiguities in the complaint as to the meaning of "plaintiff's system" and "plaintiff's work," which plaintiff alleged were copied, defendants requested that she identify such "system" and "work." Plaintiff responded that her "system" was
Concept and idea of hospital-based clinical cosmetology center and goods and services offered, in addition, business operations as specifically described in business plan and intellectual property of plaintiff divulged by plaintiff to defendants during numerous meetings, demonstrations and presentations.