Developer sues Accenture subsidiary over software

IDG News Service |  Business

A California software development company being sued in the U.K. for copyright infringement asked a U.S. court on Tuesday to declare it is innocent of the charges under U.S. law.

BulletProof Technologies Inc., based in Calabasas, California, seeks a declaratory judgement from the court stating it has not infringed any U.S. copyrights from its U.K. accuser, Navitaire Inc.

BulletProof filed its lawsuit against Navitaire, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accenture Ltd., in the U.S. District Court, District of Utah, Central Division.

An Accenture spokeswoman said she was unaware of the lawsuit and couldn't immediately offer comment. A call to Navitaire, based in Minnesota, seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.

The problem dates back to 1996, when Navitaire, then called Open Skies Inc., sold a travel reservation system to EasyJet Airline Co. Ltd., a London-based airline, according to Tuesday's complaint.

EasyJet became unhappy with Navitaire's product, called OpenRes, and with Navitaire's responsiveness to its requests, the complaint says.

"From 1999 onwards, we found Navitaire becoming very unresponsive to our needs. The changes we requested were made slowly and expensively," said Toby Nicol, head of the airline's corporate affairs.

Among other things, EasyJet found OpenRes to be slow, inaccurate, unreliable and unstable, he said.

For example, OpenRes corrupted data, suffered system breakdowns and couldn't retain all the data the airline wanted to archive, BulletProof says in its complaint. EasyJet also was unhappy with an increase in licensing fees for OpenRes.

Eventually, EasyJet decided it needed a new travel reservation system and hired BulletProof to build it.

In December 2001, EasyJet implemented the system BulletProof built for it, called eRes. They had agreed previously that BulletProof would be able to sell eRes to other companies as well.

ERes has been performing extremely well for EasyJet and the company is extremely happy with it, EasyJet's Nicol said. It works much better than OpenRes, he said.

However, in May 2002, Navitaire sued EasyJet in the U.K., alleging that eRes violates Navitaire software copyrights, the BulletProof complaint states. Months later Navitaire also added BulletProof to the lawsuit.

In its lawsuit, Navitaire initially alleged copying of its source and binary code, but backed off this claim after it became evident during the discovery phase that this wasn't true, BulletProof says in Tuesday's complaint.

Then, Navitaire amended its complaint alleging instead that eRes accepted some of the same commands as its product, included similar database fields and employed the same business logic, according to BulletProof's Tuesday complaint.

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