A US court has thrown out a software house's allegations that the Department of Justice stole its software.
The suit, brought almost 10 years ago by Inslaw, alleged that the DoJ distributed its Promis software worldwide without permission. The DoJ contracted for the software in 1982 but Inslaw claimed it was then misused and effectively stolen by the US government. But the federal court found that Inslaw had not shown its ownership rights to Promis and so the DoJ was acting legally. It said it had obtained unlimited rights to the software and that enhancements were not proprietary to Inslaw and so copyright had not been broken.
When Inslaw filed for bankruptcy in 1988, a bankruptcy court judge heavily criticised the DoJ and claimed it had stolen the software, a decision that was reversed on appeal but sparked a series of internal investigations, each of which backed the government, as did an enquiry by the attorney general Janet Reno.
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