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.