A German software company is suing the US Navy for copyright infringement in a complaint centering on virtual reality software in a claim estimated to be worth a staggering $596 million.
Bitmanagement Software GmbH has filed a lawsuit with the US Federal Court claiming that the US Navy has been using its software for at least 2 years without paying for licences for the software. The military is accused of infringing copyright to create an accurate visualisation of a virtual military base.
According to the case filed at court - see here, Bitmanagement worked with the US Navy in 2011 on a pilot programme using the 'BS contact Geo'. The trial was set to go ahead on approximately 38 machines, so the navy paid for 38 licences, each valued at €800 (£667) at the time.
When this pilot ended, Bitmanagement claims that it was led to believe that the navy planned a large-scale enrolment of the German company's software across its computers in 2013, and would be purchasing additional licences to meet demand.
The navy wanted assurance that the software would integrate properly with its machines, so in order to prove that it would, Bitmanagement had to remove the control mechanism that prevented the software from being pirated and used on other machines without a licence.
The navy ultimately decided to roll out the BS Contact Geo software and begin negotiating with the developer for a large scale licence. However, while the negotiations were ongoing, Bitmanagement claims the navy secretly copied the software and replicated it onto hundreds of thousands of other computers without agreeing a licence deal.
Bitmanagement claims it's information, including forwarded emails, shows the navy has deployed the software on at least 558,466 computers. It believes the number may actually be higher.
If the allegations prove correct, the navy has violated several parts of US Copyright law.
Bitmanagement says it has yet to be compensated and claims that the navy has admitted to installing the software on multiple machines.
"In communications with Bitmanagement, the government has acknowledged having installed Bitmanagement software on a far greater number of machines that those for which had acquired licences."
"By copying, installing and using Bitmanagement software without entering into a software licence agreement and paying the required licence fees, the government has wilfully infringed, and on information and belief continues to wilfully infringe, Bitmanagement's exclusive rights under the Copyright Act."
If you have suffered infringement of your copyright do not hesitate to contact the team here at McDaniel & Co on 0191 281 4000in: Case Law, Copyright, Digital/Tech, EU/International, News