Decision day for source codes ownership looms

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The High Court in Suva will determine on March 28 the ownership of computer source codes — a company or its former director.

Software Factory Pte Ltd (SFL) has taken civil action against former director Parmesh Dayal.

It has asked the court to order Mr Dayal to hand over source codes being used by Software Factory Pte Ltd’s corporate clients.

These are; Fiji School of Medicine, Samoa Life Assurance Corporation, Fiji National University, Solomon Islands National Provident Fund, Tuvalu National Provident Fund, Retirement Fund Board Tonga, Samoa National Provident Fund, Samoa Land Corporation Ltd, National Retirement Benefits Fund Tonga, Samoa Housing Corporation, Fiji School of Medicine, Vanuatu National Provident Fund, Native Land Trust Board, Fiji National Provident Fund, Development Bank of Samoa and Niue Development Bank.

Mr Dayal joined SFL as a trainee computer programmer.

He was promoted to be general manager software development in December 2019 until January 2022 when his employment as a director was terminated.

“The key question at this stage of this proceedings for this court to determine ‘who has the proprietary interest in the total 26 software and source codes? And or who owns the software and the source codes?” Justice Vishwa Datt Sharma said.

“The plaintiff’s (SFL) contention is that the 20 source codes in the possession of the defendant is owned by the plaintiff.”

The defendant (Mr Dayal) has agreed that the source codes belongs to the plaintiff and is needed for the needs of their corporate clients.

However, the defendant’s contention is that he has a proprietary interest in the codes.

“Further, the issue of ownership and proprietary interest of the source codes and other property arises directly from the fact that the defendant has a significant undisputed shareholding in the plaintiff (SFL).

“The status quo of the software, source codes and the assets of the plaintiff (SFL) to remain intact until this court hears and determines both Civil Action No. HBC 26 of 2022 and Shareholders Winding Up Application No. HBE 65 of 2021 accordingly.”

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