Guangdong Foshan Intermediate People’s Court recently heard a computer software copyright infringement case brought by Microsoft and Autodesk against Guangdong Canbo Electric Appliance Co., Ltd (Canbo). The case was settled following a court initiated mediation, with Canbo agreeing to pay RMB 800,000 to the two plaintiffs in compensation for economic loss.
In August 2013, under the supervision of a notarization agency, Microsoft and Autodesk analyzed Canbo’s official website using a ‘Firefox’ browser. They found that Canbo had, without authority, based its management platform on Microsoft’s Server system. Infringement proceedings were commenced in the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court requesting that Canbo cease the infringement, take steps to eliminate the effects of infringement, publish an apology and pay compensation of RMB 8,000,000 (approx. US$1,300,000) for economic loss.
During the trial, Canbo failed to establish that it had obtained authorization from the Plaintiffs, but refused to admit that its behavior constituted infringement. At the same time, it argued that certain information on its server system was confidential and that the Plaintiffs had violated its privacy: the Plaintiffs’ agent had extracted the confidential information by means of a ’Firefox’ browser with a special function.
In response to the Defendant’s claims, the Plaintiff’s agent stated that it had adopted a legitimate procedure when analyzing the Defendant’s website: there had been no de-coding; no illegal methods had been used.
Eventually, with the assistance of the Court, the parties reached a reconciliation agreement: Canbo agreed not to duplicate or use, or authorize others to duplicate or use, without authorisation, the whole or a major component of any computer software the copyright in which was owned by Microsoft or Autodesk; to purchase relevant computer software licences from Microsoft and Autodesk; and to pay to the Plaintiffs the sum of RMB 800,000 (approx. US$130,000) by way of compensation for economic loss.