Essential Step Defense Applied; Preliminary Injunction Denied

Softech v. Internet Technology (E.D. Va., Jan. 24, 2011)

Softech holds itself out as a ‘premier provider of streaming media software platforms’, while Internet Technology characterizes Softech as ‘a rogue subcontractor who did little, but merely integrated preexisting software creating largely unusable and unused work product’.

Both agree that Softech provided seven pieces of software to IT. After paying Softech nearly 3.3 million dollars, IT was in possession of software that Softech had installed on IT’s servers with Softech reserving no right to repossess.

Softech and IT agree that IT thereafter modified the software on IT’s servers to ‘debug and make routine modifications to support existing functions or support changes in business needs.’

Softech claims such modifications were copyright infringements; IT defends stating that the modifications were an essential step both, to make the software work and to make the software worth using and helpful.

The court in the Eastern District of Virginia held that IT’s use of the Softech software was used in no other manner than that envisioned in the creation and installation of the program; and as such, the essential step defense properly applied.

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