Zebrasoft, the small Atlanta, Georgia, software company that developed Norton Uninstall Deluxe for Symantec, has vehemently denied that it stole software code from Cybermedia.
On Thursday, Cybermedia filed a lawsuit claiming that Symantec's Norton Uninstall Deluxe contained code stolen from its own Cybermedia Uninstaller product. Cybermedia is asking for the sale of Norton Uninstall Deluxe to be halted and all copies to be recalled from distributors and dealers. The company is also demanding compensatory and exemplary damages.
"The claims are absolutely false", Tom Lynch, president and CEO of Zebrasoft and one of the three software developers mentioned in the Cybermedia suit, told 'VNU Newswire' on Friday.
"None of the allegations have any merit whatsoever. Obviously we are going to respond. We are going to defend this vigorously." Lynch and two of his co-workers at Zebrasoft formerly worked at Microhelp, the company that originally developed Cybermedia Uninstaller.
Earlier, Symantec president and CEO Gordon Eubanks also denied the Cybermedia claims, though in more prudent wording. A press release issued by Symantec late on Thursday simply states: "We believe their accusation lacks merit", but does not include a categorical denial.
To try to substantiate its accusation that Zebrasoft stole code, Cybersoft lists a number of similarities between Norton Uninstall Deluxe and Cybermedia Uninstaller. First, the help files for Norton Uninstall Deluxe and CyberMedia Uninstaller contain very similar, and sometimes identical help messages. In one case, the helpfile in Uninstall Deluxe refers to a function called Transport, which does not exist in this product - but CyberMedia Uninstaller does have a function called Transport.
Second, both programs use many of the same Resource Identifiers - numbers that are assigned to every object shown on the screen, such as a dialogue window. For instance, the text message 'Restore' is assigned number 57344 in both programs.
Third, both programs use many of the same function names - names used to label specific parts of the program. For instance, both use functions called DeleteAction and DisplayDataBaseError.
Fourth, some interface screens are very similar. For instance, the screen where the user can enter his preferences for the operation of the program. In both Uninstall Deluxe and Uninstaller, this screen consists of three rectangular boxes, with a check box in the top rectangular box labelled 'Load Installation Monitor on Start-Up'.
Fifth, both products share a number of bugs. For instance, in both programs the function called 'Minimize' remains visible even when this function is unavailable.
"As you get into the specifics of the allegations, there are simple technical explanations", responded Lynch.
Symantec has responded that some of the similarities may be caused by the fact that both programs may use a specific piece of code called a DLL (Dynamic Link Library) licensed from Elltech. If both companies licensed the same code from Elltech, this would explain the presence of identical code.
Though Tom Lynch would not be drawn into a point-for-point discussion of these claims, he did address one of the potentially most damning accusations: that both programs contain the same computer bugs. "It would be real interesting to see if that same bug turns up in any program that uses Microsoft's MFC class programming code", Lynch said.
Microsoft Foundation Classes or MFC is a set of software components developed by Microsoft. Many software developers use MFC to avoid having to write basic functions from scratch.
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