Cats2D Multiphysics > Developments > Copyright

Cats2D copyright infringement complaint and settlement

Two years ago I sent cease and desist letters revoking the licenses I had granted to Jeff Derby and his research group to use Cats2D. The University of Minnesota legal office responded by asserting ownership rights based on several factual errors regarding the code and its development, then refused to change its position even after I explained these errors to them. Meanwhile Derby and his group continued to infringe on my copyright.

Seventeen months later my attorneys filed a complaint on my behalf against Derby and the University of Minnesota in U.S. District Court for willful copyright infringement. The evidence presented in the complaint is overwhelming. The settlement acknowledges that Goodwin and I are the sole authors of Cats2D. This should have been recognized when I first sent the cease and desist letters nearly two years ago. The university invoked immunity under the 14th Amendment to avoid paying any financial damages or my legal fees. Invoking immunity this way is uncommon, unless you are the U.

Derby has sought in every way to diminish credit that I deserve for my foundational contributions to his research. He has omitted my name from every author list for the past three years on works to which I made major contributions and I expect he will continue to do so. He halted a 15 year long practice of citing Cats2D by name with attribution to its true authors, even though his group continued to publish results computed by it. He made provably false misrepresentations to the University of Minnesota legal office about the authorship of Cats2D because he did not want to stop using it. His fabrication that the code was co-authored by his students resulted in my having to pay nearly $20,000 in legal fees to establish ownership of something I have always owned.

In legal terms Derby committed a tort against me by wilfully infringing on my copyright based on false pretenses. But I think the ethical offense here is even greater. Cats2D is a remarkable achievement and its capabilities are unique. Derby has sought to portray me as a closely supervised, work-for-hire, research technician. In a conversation with Ralph Goodwin, Derby compared me to someone who runs a scanning electron microscope in a service role to other researchers. This comparison is preposterous. A better analogy is that I designed and built an electron microscope from scratch with many innovative features unavailable on other electron microscopes. Even that analogy fails to capture to the intellectual achievement represented by Cats2D.

Cats2D software is the unpublished joint work of Andrew Yeckel and Ralph T. Goodwin. Copyright infringement will not be tolerated. Cats2D must always be attributed to Yeckel and Goodwin, or Goodwin and Yeckel, and no one else. Cats2D should be cited in this manner:

A. Yeckel and R.T. Goodwin. (2003) Cats2D (Crystallization and Transport Simulator), 
User Manual. Unpublished (