Three businessmen have appeared in a US court accused of stealing Hewlett Packard's trade secrets.
The prosecution claims that Steven Cooper, Stanley Sieler and Charles Finley conspired to unlawfully use an HP program called SS Config in their business from 1991 to 1998 by disabling the program?s password protection.
But their defence said that since the men legally possessed the software they had the right to modify it.
Finley ran a Southern California-based company called ConAm that provided maintenance on Hewlett Packard servers. He hired Cooper and Sieler to carry out software support.
"I think the prosecution fundamentally misunderstands what a person's rights are when they obtain legal access to software," said Cooper's lawyer, Daniel Barton. "What these people did is 100 per cent protected by federal copyright law."
According to the prosecution, Finley ordered Cooper and Sieler to disable the password protection on SS Config.
.Deputy district attorney Jack Grandsaert said that the program allows users to upgrade their server's performance, and that disabling it amounted to trade secret theft valued at more than $100,000.
The next hearing is scheduled for later this month.
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