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The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners is suing the Thomson Corp. and West Publishing Corp. in North Carolina federal court for copyright infringement for using North Carolina bar examination questions on bar examination preparation materials. The June 8 lawsuit also accuse the legal publishing companies of unfair and deceptive acts in commerce that violate North Carolina state law. Board of Law Examiners v. West Publishing Corp., No. 07-00210 (E.D. N.C.) The board is seeking recovery of actual damages sustained by the board or $150,000 for each act of willful infringement as well as costs and attorney’s fees. In addition to monetary damages, the board wants the court to permanently enjoin the defendant companies from further infringement. In complaint, the North Carolina Board said it copyrights many of its bar exam essay questions, which are developed through a lengthy writing, screening and revision process. The lawsuit accuses the BAR/BRI bar examination preparation business owned by Stamford, Conn.-based Thomson and its subsidiary West of publishing and selling material copied and derived from the board’s essay examinations since 2001. The lawsuit also said the board believes BAR/BRI has published or performed other infringing works through its BAR/BRI bar review course outlines, teaching materials and lectures. The lawsuit says the defendant companies acquired BAR/BRI through transfers of ownership and that they are “responsible for the actions of each prior owner undertaken in the conduct of such business.” North Carolina Board attorney Susan Freya Olive of Olive & Olive in Durham, N.C., declined to discuss the case. “The lawsuit speaks for itself,” Olive said. Thomson spokesman John Shaughnessy said the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

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