Regular readers of this blog have likely heard that the U.S. government is paying logistics software vendor Apptricity $50 million to settle a case involving unpaid software. While most news headlines are shouting about software piracy, Apptricity's press release frames it as a settlement of a copyright infringement claim.
What was at the heart of the matter? Apptricity stated that “in its copyright infringement claim, [it] sought compensation for approximately 100 server and 9,000 device licenses the U.S. Army installed and fielded globally – but did not procure.”
What is interesting (and lucky?) is that Apptricity only learned about the possible overuse by chance. The BBC noted that “the unauthorised copying only came to light after a US Army official mentioned ‘thousands’ of devices running the software during a presentation on technology.”
Apptricity realized that this was not even close to what the U.S. Army had procured. According to the Washington Post, the “government initially bought a handful of server and device licenses for $4.5 million in 2004. That was followed by another purchase about five years later.” The complaint sought $225M in damages (the license revenue owed for what was actually being used).
Perhaps most concerning is Apptricity’s claim of a possible coverup in its complaint:
“...the Army had engaged another contractor, Future Research Corporation of Huntsville, Alabama, to reverse engineer a portion of Apptricity’s software application suite and proprietary framework architecture to replace certain infringed intellectual property rather than pay for the license shortfall. Apptricity discovered this effort not because the Army admitted the infringement, but because information the Army provided to Apptricity contained a reverse engineered application using Apptricity’s backend database scheme.”
Once the case was settled, Apptricity CEO Tim Garcia put a kinder spin on the situation: “Our battle-tested integrated logistics software performed so well that it went viral.”
So what are the takeaways here?
Marketing Director at Revulytics
Michael is Marketing Director at Revulytics where he is responsible for corporate marketing, content, and social media. He has helped to educate the industry on the benefits of software usage analytics for compliance and product management through the company's blog and contributed articles in trade publications. Michael was previously a marketing programs manager at The MathWorks and principal at Goff Communications. Michael earned a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A. from Colgate University.
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