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March 23, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

As the world watches the legal battle waged by Apple Computer Inc against Hewlett-Packard Co and Microsoft Corp another copyright case has emerged in Ireland over the Unigem Unix accounting package – which recently won a claimed UKP30m-plus in OEM deals from NEC Australia and French company Lincor SA. UK software distributor Precision Software Ltd of Worcester Park, Surrey, is proceeding against Dublin-based Software Laboratories for breach of copyright and marketing rights. Precision Software claims that during the early 1980s it subcontracted Software Labs to do development work on a product that it believes has now evolved into the Unigem accounting package Unigem. The nature of the deal, according to Precision Software, was that Software Labs took over the maintenance of existing test sites and was granted marketing rights within Ireland: elsewhere Precision retained all marketing rights to the existing product and any enhancements. Precision says it heard nothing from Software Labs and assumed that the project had been dropped until an article in The Times highlighted the Irish company’s massive UKP17m order from NEC in Australia. At the end of last year Precision obtained an order requiring Software Labs to do no further work on the product and to supply it with the Unigem source code so that it could assess whether the product infringed copyright. Precision has still to receive the code. Software Labs says that it is fiercely contesting the suit, being heard in the Dublin High Court, admitting only that it had a business relationship with Precision a number of years ago. The court has asked Ireland’s National Software Centre Ltd to test the disputed code and see whether the claims seem to stand up.

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