US jury orders Ford to pay software company $105 million in trade secrets case

A federal jury in Michigan found Ford Motor Company guilty of breach of contract and misuse of trade secrets. “While we respect the jury’s decision, we believe the facts and the law do not support this finding,” Ford spokeswoman Kathryn Haggett said, “Ford will appeal the verdict.

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The point of contention is a 2004 contract between the two companies involving software developed by Versata to manage how car parts are configured during assembly. The jury found that Ford misused confidential information to reverse engineer Versata’s software for its own commercial use and use the software without a license.

According to the jury verdict, the jury awarded Ford $82.26 million for breach of contract and $22.39 million for misuse of trade secrets. According to Versata attorney Dan Webb, Ford hired Versata in the late 1990s to develop software aimed at solving problems that led to costly recalls.

Ford Software Company CaseThe two companies reached a 15-year contract for Ford to use the software in 2004, but Ford terminated the agreement in 2014, saying they had developed their own software. Webb told the jury that Versata later found that Ford had “stabbed us in the back” and that the software they secretly developed contained Versata’s trade secrets.

Ford spokesman Haggett said the ruling had no impact on Ford’s current products or activities, “The software has not been used since 2014, it’s a back-end enterprise software and was last used nearly a decade ago, used to support vehicle configuration and design and material prediction. It has never been used in a vehicle.”

Webb, however, said what Ford said was simply not true, and the software is still in use today, which is why jurors punished Ford for the verdict.


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