Versata Software, Inc. (“Versata”) has called out Ford Motor Company for trying to block its own lawsuit after Ford realized it had gotten caught stealing and pirating Versata’s “auto configuration” software, called “ACM.”
Ford sued Versata on February 19, 2015, and asked a federal court in Detroit to declare that it had not copied Versata’s software. After almost two decades of using Versata software to run its vehicle development process, Ford claimed that it had developed a new software program to replace Versata entirely on its own. Ford told Versata that there was a “Chinese Wall” to prevent copying of Versata’s software and trade secrets.
Yet just last month, a high level Ford Motor Company executive, David Baxter, former Director of Application Development and project leader of the PDO software, admitted under oath that there was no “Chinese Wall,” that copying might have occurred, and that Ford misled and deceived Versata. Within two weeks of this explosive testimony, Ford asked the Michigan court to “stay” or halt the case it filed sixteen months earlier, delaying indefinitely a ruling on whether Ford copied and pirated Versata’s software.
The liability and theft of Versata’s ACM software could exceed $1 billion, according to Versata.
Lanny J. Davis, attorney for Versata, stated, “This is classic Ford behavior: They steal, accuse, and then when they are caught, they try to cover up.” But, added Davis, “this time they won’t get away with it. Ford knows that Versata requested a court order depriving Ford from using Versata’s stolen software that they heavily rely on in virtually all product development operations. If Versata wins, as I believe they should, then Ford’s public shareholders are going to ask: Why didn’t you tell us about all this?”
In Versata’s Opposition to Ford’s Motion to Stay the Michigan case, Versata attorneys stated:
“….Ford waited sixteen months to file any IPRs at all. Obviously, Ford considers its IPRs a low priority. Yet Ford wants this Court to stop everything, rescind its scheduling order, and stay the entire case indefinitely based on petitions that Ford apparently views as little more than an afterthought….
“Why does Ford suddenly want to stay the very lawsuit it filed? The most plausible answer is that Ford has gotten caught stealing Versata’s trade secrets, copyrights, and software technology. Before Ford filed suit, Ford claimed that it had put a “Chinese Wall” in place to protect Versata’s software against copying and reverse engineering. Now discovery has shown that at least forty Ford personnel were on both sides of this “Wall” – meaning that they worked on the development of Ford’s PDO software after, or even during, the time that they had access to Versata’s ACM software. Given this evidence, it is not surprising that Ford now seeks to avoid a trial of these issues.”
Davis continued, “If this tactic by Ford isn’t an obvious attempt to just continue its prior pattern of trickery and deception in this matter, I don’t know what is.”
Versata’s motion to oppose the Ford motion to stay the case and allow the Ford challenge in the USPTO to proceed is case number 15-10628, Ford Motor Company v. Versata Software, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Versata’s motion to oppose the Ford request for a stay of the Michigan federal court case can be found here.