Update on Copyright Infringement Suit Against Optima University


November 16, 2011
Updated January 17, 2012

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As previously announced the sponsors of the USMLE program (the Federation of State Medical Boards [FSMB] and the National Board of Medical Examiners [NBME]) filed suit in the US District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, alleging copyright infringement by Optima University, a provider of USMLE review courses. On February 24, 2009 a US Marshal executed a court order to obtain the Optima prep materials from Optima's offices in McKenzie, Tennessee. In their filing, the NBME and the FSMB alleged that Optima was unlawfully using USMLE test questions that they own and have copyrighted.

On September 29, 2011, the US District Court for the Western District of Tennessee issued an order granting the NBME and FSMB's Motion for Summary Judgment, enjoining Optima and its owner, Eihab Suliman, from engaging in further infringing activity and awarding the NBME and FSMB the maximum statutory damages of $2,400,000 plus attorney fees and costs. The court found that the defendants, Eihab Suliman and Optima, "directly and contributorily infringed upon the copyrighted USMLE questions." The order affirms the important role of USMLE in protecting the public, stating as follows: "The need to deter conduct such as that of Optima and Suliman is vital. USMLE scores are relied upon by state medical boards when licensing doctors. The disclosure of secure, copyrighted test questions undermines the integrity of the USMLE and presents the threat that persons without the skill and knowledge required to practice medicine will be licensed as a doctor."

Update January 17, 2012: See the USMLE website and the website of the United States Attorney’s Office, State of New Jersey for information about the July 2011 grand jury indictment of Eihab Suliman and Egija Kuka on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud; two counts of wire fraud; and three counts of mail fraud in connection with the activities of Optima University.