Ford Motor, the second largest US automaker, has been sued by a former software supplier asking one billion dollars in compensation for allegedly misusing trade secrets for product development software.
The plaintiff, Versata Inc. from Texas, is a software development company that claims Ford used without prior consent the company’s proprietary information in certain programs it then went on and patented as its own. Ford on its part is denying the allegations and also had filed an earlier lawsuit in Michigan to make sure it would not infringe on Versata’s intellectual property. The latter’s software in similar forms is being delivered to other peers, such as General Motors, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Volvo and Jaguar. The supplier and the automaker last December were engaged in contract negotiations that crumbled when the software developer asked for a double-digit increase for the program’s continued usage and Ford only wanted to pay the usual figure – $8.45 million annually.
According toVersata, they discovered the issue back in February, when they allegedly discovered Ford’s own program had been reverse engineered from theirs. “We believe we’ve identified at least three areas where our trade secrets were copied into their patent, and I think we will find more,” commented Michael Richards, president of the global automotive division of Trilogy, Versata’s parent company. Ford on its term maintains the recent lawsuit was retaliation to the one already filed in Michigan and they intend to have it moved in their home state or dismissed.