‘Tis the Season for Plagiarism Cases

‘Tis the season when students return to their classrooms, write their final papers and cram for exams. Students also face the additional worry of conforming to the rules and ethics of “academic honesty” and avoiding plagiarism. Plagiarism can result in punishment – including expulsion – for students, grad students, or faculty members. If you are accused of plagiarism, what are your risks and rights?

Plagiarists are accused of appropriating another’s ideas or form of expression and purposefully presenting the material as if it were original. Unlike copyright infringement or other forms of intellectual property misappropriation, there is no civil law against plagiarism. It is an academic creation with academic punishments.

The most obvious form of plagiarism – copying work and “passing it off” as your own — has become easy to detect. Teachers have access to numerous apps that flag submissions that were copied from the internet or slightly modified. In fact, most universities provide the apps to students so that they can check their own work and avoid the accusation of plagiarism.

The more difficult form of plagiarism is the accusation that an idea has been “stolen” without adequate attribution. Such charges can be challenged on numerous grounds, including: there was no dishonesty; the idea itself is trivial; or, the idea in question was reasonably credited.

Often, the biggest hurdle in plagiarism cases is procedural. Student handbooks often erect harsh and confusing procedural rules that may provide for very short periods for appeal and impair the student’s ability to mount an effective defense by severely limiting the student’s procedural rights.

A student or an academician should understand that a determination of academic dishonesty may be detrimental to one’s academic and career aspirations. An accusation of plagiarism is a professional emergency to which Kennyhertz Perry responds with corresponding urgency.

Arthur Chaykin is head of Kennyhertz Perry’s Intellectual Property practice. He was formerly a Vice-President of Law at the Sprint Corporation where he served as, in succession, their chief litigator, the head of the business law department, and Vice President of the first legal department at Sprint supporting marketing and sales in all areas of Sprint’s business: international, wireless, wireline, local and long-distance services. At Sprint, he also served as the head lawyer for Sprint Ethics and Compliance program. He has since served as General Counsel to a major manufacturer and distributor of automotive lifting equipment and automotive accessories and has represented numerous clients on trademark matters, copyright cases, trade secrets disputes, food safety regulatory issues, and consumer product safety issues. has over 35 years of legal experience handling trademark, patent, copyright, and trade secret litigation and arbitration.

To learn more about Kennyhertz Perry, LLC, please visit kennyhertzperry.com.

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