Ford Faces Big Lawsuit Over Software

Automakers are routinely subject to intellectual property and patent disputes, whether over design similarities or pieces of tech. Ford is now facing a lawsuit for alleged IP theft over a piece of software from a company called Versata, and the business wants $1 billion from the Blue Oval for the violation. With such a huge amount of money at stake, the legal situation is already getting complicated.

According to The Detroit Free Press, Versata’s software is designed to help automakers improve product development by making sure all of a car’s countless components work together. The company and Ford had a contract for the system for many years, and they were negotiating an extension at the end of 2014. However, the deal fell through, and the Blue Oval ended the two business’ arrangement.

Making the legal situation especially tricky is that Ford developed and patented its own software for the same task. The automaker then filed a lawsuit in Michigan to have the court check whether the program violated Versata’s IP, according to The Detroit Free Press. Later, the software company registered a lawsuit in Texas and alleged the Blue Oval stole proprietary code.

Versata has asked for an injunction against Ford and restitution.

“Ford’s patented software does not use or infringe any Versata intellectual property and Versata has provided no basis for their claims against us,” the automaker said in a statement to Autoblog. “We are confident that we will ultimately prevail in this case and we look forward to the opportunity to present our evidence at trial.”

With both sides in dispute, that leaves Ford pushing for a hearing in Michigan and Versata for one in Texas. According to The Detroit Free Press, it could be at least a year before a trial, if not longer. Of course in the meantime, the two sides could conceivably reach a settlement, and the whole issue would disappear.

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