A lawsuit against Oregon State University and its state-sponsored Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety program - filed by a rival nonprofit motorcycle training group in December 2006 - was dropped last week.

Neither party will pay compensation, costs or fees to the other, and Team Oregon can continue using its current curriculum. However, Team Oregon no longer can license its copyrighted materials to other entities.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, based in California, had claimed that OSU misappropriated its training materials, prepared derivative works and sought to provide these to other states and organizations.

"There was just no substance to that," said Steve Garets, director of Team Oregon, which now trains 8,000 riders a year through basic to expert courses. Since classes started in 1984, there have been 80,000 participants.

The lawsuit came in the wake of Oregon dropping the national rider safety curriculum - provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation - and developing its own course materials. Classroom portions went into effect in 2004, followed by on-cycle exercises in 2005.

Curves were a major emphasis because of Oregon's twisty rural roads.

Other states became interested in the Team Oregon materials, and Idaho and Illinois also switched over to that curriculum, Garets said. Six other states already have licenses for Team Oregon materials, and those rights will remain unaffected.

The restriction of the materials to other entities, however, is a victory for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation because it retains other customers and eliminates competition, Garets said.

Because the Team Oregon materials were developed using public resources, however, the information is in the public domain, and anyone can request it.

The Team Oregon material will note that the program has free license to use Motorcycle Safety Foundation in its curriculum. However, Team Oregon will continue to deny that it needs any such license under the terms of the settlement.

Team Oregon's basic rider course is popular because those who pass it automatically earn their motorcycle endorsement from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Riders younger than 21 are required to take the course.

The number of Team Oregon participants has grown by more than 1,000 in the past two years.

"We're seeing more and more people riding because gas is becoming so expensive," Garets said.

Motorcycle deaths in the state also went up to 51 last year, the highest since 1987, before a mandatory helmet law was passed in Oregon.

Garets said Oregon's death-per-rider rate, however, is half the national average.

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