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Software developer sues CT judicial branch for stealing code

BY Joe Cooper

9/5/2018
HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Judicial branch headquarters at 248 Capitol Ave. in Hartford.
A software developer that created an informational database for the Connecticut Judicial Branch is suing the state for stealing its code, using its trade secrets and violating its licensing agreement.

Under the complaint filed Aug. 27 in Hartford Superior Court, Massachusetts-based Pavonix Inc. said it was contracted in 2000 by the judicial branch to build a case-management information system, but ended the partnership in March 2007 when the state failed to pay for its services.

Pavonix, formerly Softscape Inc., said it took steps during the contract to protect disclosing proprietary information used in the licensed program, including its source code, according to the lawsuit.

But months after Pavonix terminated the partnership in 2007, the developer said it learned the judicial branch "had wrongfully utilized its source code" to develop its own case-management information system -- called judicial electronic bridge (JEB) -- to replace the licensed program, the lawsuit says.

A judicial branch spokeswoman on Wednesday declined to comment on the lawsuit while litigation is still pending.

In the complaint, Pavonix cites its contact where both parties agreed that neither will "use any of the other party's confidential information…" and that the judicial branch understood it was prohibited from "copying, distributing, disclosing, transferring or modifying the licensed program… ."

However, the complaint alleges the JEB program uses code developed and owned by Pavonix. The complaint also says the state disclosed or distributed the licensed program to third parties and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by using its program and source code.

Pavonix says the state's violations have caused them "irreparable damage and injury" that cannot be fully measured.

"Connecticut judicial's aforesaid conduct is immoral, unethical, oppressive and/or unscrupulous," the complaint says.

Pavonix is seeking an unknown amount of money for damages and an injunction to prevent the judicial branch from copying its licensed program, punitive damages and legal reimbursement.