The Los Angeles Superior Court has prohibited an Indian Apparel Exporter (Pratibha Syntex) from using unlicensed software or reproducing any part of a copyrighted software programme without the permission of the legitimate copyright holder, and further required the company to perform four complete audits of the software on their computers and fix any violations within one and half months.
On the other side, interpreting the judgement in a different way, Ashok Jain, Head, Legal and Commercial, Pratibha Syntex Ltd. (PSL) said, “Pratibha Syntex Ltd. did not engage in any illegal business practices that disadvantaged California garment companies. In addition, our company maintains that the California Attorney General did not have jurisdiction to apply the California Unfair Competition Law extra-territorially to conduct which is occurring in another sovereign nation, and a motion to dismiss the action was pending at the time of settlement.
The judgment, which incorporates the parties’ Settlement Agreement, states that PSL entered into the settlement without any admission regarding any issue of fact or law to avoid further expense, inconvenience, and the distraction of burdensome and protracted litigation. The judgment specifically records that PSL has never admitted any claims made against Pratibha Syntex and has specifically denied any liability from any claims arising from such allegations. Further, the settlement was entered into by Pratibha Syntex without waiving any personal jurisdiction defences it had against the State of California. Finally, the “Settlement Fund” to be paid has no mention of any ‘penalty’ as suggested in some press reports regarding the settlement. PSL simply made the decision that it could not afford the excessive expense of litigating in a United States court and, as a purely financial matter, had no option but to settle.”
The level of monitoring and vigilance by software companies to protect their copyright programmes is on the increase and the judgment is a wake-up call for all, including the garment manufacturer/exporter that are still using pirated software in any of their production/official processes.
Wilcom Embroidery Solutions offering embroidery software has made raids on the firms using pirated software and similarly Microsoft and Adobe are also tracing the companies, using pirated versions.
Many other software providers in India are also taking initiative to create awareness among the Indian garment manufacturers on the downside of using such programmes, including heavy penalties, often more than the cost of the original software.