Friday, August 10, 2007

Selling what is not yours....

I was reading eDwight's linkpost today and ran across an interesting conundrum. It would seem that a company called CMI, designs and builds breathylizer systems. They have a model Intoxylizer 5000EN that they sold to the State of Minnesota. As part of the boilerplate language on Minnesota's Request for Purchase, which apparently CMI agreed to, there is language that says that the seller turns over all rights to the design and source code to the device to the State of Minnesota. The court ruled that a DUI defendant had the right to request the disclosure of the device's source code as part of his defense. The Court ruled that he could lawfully do so because the state of Minnesota owned the source code as a result of the wording of the RFP. Ok, so far so good. But here is the deal: This company has sold this very same device to LEO's in 20 different states. If the State of Minnesota owns exclusive rights to the device, then the company had no right to sell it to any one else. To quote the story:

Minnesota's original bid proposal that CMI responded to says that "all right, title, and interest in all copyrightable material" that CMI creates as part of the contract "will be the property of the state." The bid proposal also says CMI must provide "information" to be used by "attorneys representing individuals charged with crimes in which a test with the proposed instrument is part of the evidence," which seems to include source code.

"all right, title, and interest" says to me that it is exclusive to Minnesota and Minnesota only. Therefore if CMI sold it to anyone else, they owe the State of Minnesota the value of the sale.

But was Minnesota the first state to buy it using similar language? Did CMI have the right to sell it to Minnesota in the first place? Or were they duped as well?

Clearly the problem is the legal wording in Minnesota's RFQ language. But this does appear to open a huge can of worms. and depending on how it sorts out, Minnesota (or some other state) might just have a large chunk of change coming their way.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home