Monday, March 18, 2013

Step-Saver Data Systems, Inc. v. Wyse Technology case brief (both cases)

Step-Saver Data Systems, Inc. v. Wyse Technology (1) case brief summary
939 F.2d 91

SYNOPSIS: Appellant challenged a directed verdict entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in favor of appellees, a software producer and terminal manufacturer, in a breach of warranty suit involving the box-top license accompanying software packages, as well as the terminals, acquired by appellant.

OVERVIEW: Appellant argued that the box-top license accompanying acquired software, disclaiming all warranties, was not intended as expression of agreement with appellees.
-Plaintiff would call Defendant to order programs, Defendant would accept over the phone and ship the goods right away.
-There was never a discussion of the disclaimer of warranties.
-The invoice only discussed price, quantity and shipment terms.
-The License specifically stated that opening the package would indicate acceptance of the terms, including the disclaimer, and if a person did not agree then they could return the package unopened for a refund.

The court concurred, noting that essential elements of the parties' contract were detailed upfront, orally and by purchase orders, and that the license was only delivered later with software order.

-The court pointed to U.C.C. § 2-207 as controlling, and viewed the license's terms as a proposed addition to the existing contract, one never accepted by appellant.
-Notwithstanding this rebuff, the court observed, appellees' software producer demonstrated a willingness to supply additional orders.
-Consequently, the disclaimer of warranty in the license did not constitute a conditional acceptance by appellant of its terms, irrespective of the repeated mailings of the license.
-The court held that it was error for appellant's warranty claims to be dismissed.
-The court also found that no evidence demonstrated any intentional misrepresentation by appellees on issues of software or hardware compatibility.

Under 2-207, an additional term detailed in a box top license will not become incorporated into the parties agreement if the term would materially alter the agreement.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the district court's directed verdict in favor of appellee software producer and remanded the case.


Step-Saver Data Systems, Inc. v. Wyse Technology (2) case brief summary
752 F. Supp. 181 (1990)

Plaintiff filed a motion for retrial, where defendants were granted summary judgment with respect to many of plaintiff's claims and the remainder of the claims were discharged by either directed verdicts or by the jury verdict in an action filed under tort and contract law pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code § 2-200 et seq.

Plaintiff sold computer terminals comprised of defendant's hardware and separate defendant's software. After problems developed, plaintiff sought damages pursuant to Uniform Commercial Code § 2-200 et seq. The court granted summary judgment for defendant on a number of claims and the remainder of the claims were denied by either a directed verdict or a jury verdict. Plaintiff sought retrial.


  • The court denied a retrial, finding that there was no manifest error in law or fact in the first trial. 
  • The court held that neither defendant could be liable for implied or express warranties where plaintiff used goods for the purposes for which they were not intended or where there were express warranty limitations. 
  • The court determined that plaintiff failed to substantiate the misrepresentation. Plaintiff argued that the court's granting of a directed verdict for one defendant during the trial prejudiced the case against the remaining defendant. 
  • The court found plaintiff's argument was unjustified as it could make a determination at any point and properly limited the discussion regarding the directed verdict to the jury so as not to prejudice the case.

The court denied plaintiff's motion for a new trial, holding that the verdict in the case did not result in a miscarriage of justice as there was neither a manifest error of law, nor a manifest error of fact.

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