Ford summoned Versata to meet on December 19, 2014 – on the eve of the holidays – at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The meeting was attended by Versata executives Mike Richards and Greg Gunwall, Versata attorney Lance Jones, Ford executive Dave Baxter, and Ford attorneys Damian Porcari and Jennifer Qussar.

Ford led Versata to believe that the purpose of the meeting was to resolve a contract dispute. However, when Versata arrived, Ford brazenly advised them that Ford was decommissioning Versata’s ACM software in order to replace it with Ford’s own in-house version, called PDO.

Versata pressed Ford if they honored their confidentiality agreement while developing their new product. In response, Ford became defensive, and the bravado they had previously shown when informing Versata of the decommission was gone. They confirmed they had established a “Chinese Wall” to separate the groups and ensure that the new software did not utilize any Versata software or trade secrets. Porcari even went so far as to say that there was “complete separation,” and Qussar and Baxter both reinforced that position.

At this meeting Versata also learned that the very same manager who supervised Versata’s software at Ford for more than ten years was the lead manager for Ford’s “new” in-house product.

Appalled by these findings, Versata cited the language of the confidentiality agreement in more detail. As they did, Damian Pocari began nudging Jennifer Qussar, and Dave Baxter was visibly squirming in his chair uncomfortably. Versata suspected something was seriously wrong – and they were right.

Since that meeting, Versata has identified at least 14 individuals who worked on both sides of the supposed Chinese Wall promised by Ford. They were working on Versata’s software while at the same time using that technology to develop their own in-house version, which was derived from trade secrets they stole from Versata. Ford took no safeguards during this deceitful process, and Versata’s valuable property was not protected according to the confidentiality agreement they relied on and trusted Ford with. Versata only learned later that that trust was severely misplaced.

Ford lied to Versata, face to face, about protecting their product, the confidentiality of the software, and even decommissioning the software. They are still using Versata’s technology to this day. Ford must think they are above the law and that stealing from a small company is acceptable. This breach can be categorized simply as unlawful, deceitful, and outright theft.

“Versata’s investigators, all decorated former law enforcement officials, acted professionally, respectfully, and appropriately in questioning potential witnesses.

Ford’s attempt to obtain a court order to prevent people from telling the truth about Ford’s theft of Versata’s proprietary software technology is nothing but another chapter in Ford’s ongoing cover-up.  Ford can try to pressure people not to tell the truth, as it appears they have been doing  – but we do not believe they will succeed. 

Our Court system is about finding the truth, not hiding the truth as Ford is trying to do.  Sooner or later, transparency and the facts will come out – they can run, but they can’t hide.

We trust the court will find an appropriate process going forward.”

#####

Automotive-News
Automotive News, Detroit, MI (June 5, 2015)
 — Texas software company Versata is suing former partner Ford over claims the automaker stole code from its proprietary technology.

The lawsuit, presented before a U.S. District Court judge in Texas and filed May 7, says Ford received a patent in 2014 for internally developed software meant to identify incompatible parts across a million vehicle configurations to avoid recall issues, Automotive News reports. The company goes on to claim said patent was based upon code for its own software, which was used by the automaker between 1998 and 2014 under an agreement netting Versata $8.45 million per year, and was denied a request to examine the new system in violation of the agreement.

Read the full article

PR_Newswire_logo
PRNewswire, Austin, Texas (June 4, 2015)
— Texas auto industry software developer Versata, Inc. last night moved in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to obtain an injunction against Ford Motor Company, accusing Ford of stealing its patented auto development software, called “Automotive Configuration Management” (ACM), and its trade secrets.

The injunction motion by Versata asked the federal court to prohibit Ford from using Versata’s software, which it alleged Ford had stolen from Versata as well as Versata’s trade secrets, in order to copy and develop similar replacement technology. Versata also sought a court order requiring Ford to comply with the licensing agreement’s plain language allowing Versata, upon termination of the agreement, to enter Ford’s premises to verify that Ford had not stolen or copied Versata’s software. As stated in the injunction motion, Ford has violated its contractual promises to Versata and misappropriated Versata’s software and trade secrets.

Read the full article

Automotive-News
Automotive News, Detroit, MI (June 4, 2015, 3:33 PM ET) — A Texas software company that says it helped Ford Motor Co. significantly reduce warranty costs and bring vehicles to market faster has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the automaker of stealing its intellectual property.

The company, Versata, on Wednesday asked a U.S. District Court judge in Texas for an injunction against Ford, which began using the software in 1998 as part of its product-development process. Ford terminated the $8.45 million-a-year contract at the end of last year and instead began using a program it developed in-house based on Versata’s proprietary software, the lawsuit says.

Versata, which is seeking unspecified damages, says a patent that Ford received in 2014 on the internally developed software was actually based on the technology it had licensed to Ford, known as Automotive Configuration Manager. Versata says its software identifies incompatible parts in millions of possible vehicle configurations, helping automakers avoid recalls or other problems.

Read the full article

law360logo

Law360, New York (May 8, 2015, 3:52 PM ET) — Software company Versata filed a suit against the Ford Motor Co. in Texas federal court on Thursday, claiming the auto company stole its patented automotive configuration manager software and has used the patents to develop its own system.

Ford had an $8.45 million per year licensing deal to use Versata’s software for 17 years but didn’t renew the license once it had developed and patented its own configuration manager software by reverse-engineering Versata’s software and using Versata’s trade secrets, the suit says.

“Despite achieving hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings from its use of Versata’s software, Ford has decided that it would be cheaper to steal this technology than to pay for it,” the suit says. “Ford did not stop using Versata software; it just stopped paying for it.”

Read the full article