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Settlement in software piracy case

Published:Sunday | March 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A COMPUTER software engineer, who has suffered financial losses from piracy of his computer software programmes, says he feels cheated after working so hard to develop the product.

Douglas DaCosta said last week that it was only by chance that he went to a used-car dealer to sell a software programme and discovered that the car dealer was using his software system.

DaCosta said during his 18 years as a developer of software systems, he created, developed and owned computer software, and at all times retained the intellectual property rights for the computer programmes.

He said in the 1990s, he distributed his programmes through DOSS Limited, of which he was the sole proprietor and at all times the owner of intellectual property rights in the following programmes: pharmacy management, auto-parts management, hotel management, and car-rental management.

Company closed down

While DaCosta was living in the United States in 1996, he said, he discovered that someone was illegally selling his pharmacy management computer software in Jamaica, and that caused DOSS Limited to lose money and so he had to close down that company. He said because of that illegal activity, he had to sell the rights in that particular computer software for $750,000.

"I feel so cheated that after working so hard to develop my software product someone pirated it," DaCosta said last week.DaCosta subsequently returned to live in Jamaica in 2000 and said he is now marketing a different software.

He said: "In 2005, I visited an auto-parts client to demonstrate one of my new software products, and I was amazed to discover that the existing software being used by that client was my auto parts management computer software management systems. He sub-sequently discovered that the auto-parts proprietor had purchased the software from Arthur Earl James, a former employer of Doss Ltd.

In 2008, DaCosta, who now runs Idirect Services Jamaica, filed a suit against James for infringement of his intellectual property rights. The matter came up for hearing in the Supreme Court in December 2009. DaCosta was represented by attorney-at-law Douglas Thompson while James was represented by attorney-at-law Dianne Edwards. The parties arrived at a settlement and James agreed to pay a certain sum of money to DaCosta in instalments as well as legal costs. The last instalment was to be paid by January 31, 2010.