Micro Focus lays fresh claims in NSW Govt license stoush

By James Hutchinson on Apr 27, 2012 7:58 AM
Filed under Software

Replacement software also used without licenses, vendor alleges.

US software vendor Micro Focus is planning to lay a fresh round of allegations against NSW Government departments in its battle to recoup up to $10 million in licensing and maintenance costs it claims to have lost from improper license use.

The company, which is currently suing NSW Police over the use of its ViewNow terminal software, will file court documents next week claiming Corrective Services NSW did not obtain the correct licenses for use of a second piece of software.

The NSW Attorney-General's Department, which oversees Corrective Services, agreed last month to settle a similar dispute over the department's use of ViewNow without licenses for $82,000, plus legal costs. It did not admit to the allegations laid by Micro Focus.

But according to Micro Focus country manager Bruce Craig, conversations with Corrective Services NSW over the initial case had led the vendor to suspect the department had replaced the ViewNow software with Micro Focus' SNA Server 3270 applet, also without licenses.

The applet is bundled with Microsoft SNA Server software but is only offered under a free trial for network testing purposes. It requires legitimate licenses to use in a production environment under warnings Craig said were highly visible in the software.

"There's no excuse for professional IT folk not to realise who owns the [software], if you go to the website or you got to Microsoft, Microsoft point to Micro Focus," Craig said.

He said he expected 'very few' instances to be installed at Corrective Services but that, "based on the conversations we've had I believe that software was supplied by the Police force to Corrective Services".

Micro Focus' requests for formal responses to the allegations to both Corrective Services NSW and NSW Police had gone unanswered, leading the vendor to draw the department back into Federal Court next week.

A spokesman for the NSW Attorney-General's Department refused to comment.

Micro Focus bought the previous software owner, NetManage, for US$27 million in 2008.

Other departments?

Craig said the vendor was yet to ascertain whether the new case involving the SNA Server applet would move to other Government agencies.

Micro Focus had launched similar suits in the accompanying ViewNow case against the Police Ombudsman and Police Integrity Commission, both of which have since been settled out of court.

The vendor had written to a total of 27 NSW government agencies believed to have used the software at some point to access police databases but had little success to date in receiving responses.

Attempts to determine the total number of ViewNow instances installed on NSW Police computers alone had also been met with several delays as a $120,000 KPMG audit of devices at the department ran three months late.

It is expected to be submitted sometime next month but the parties are expected to dispute the scope and accuracy of the final number reached by auditor Stan Gallo.

"The Police could have worked that out themselves without spending a year of the court's time, a million dollars in taxpayer's money and now another $120,000 with KPMG," Craig said.

NSW Police had also attempted to keep the resulting report confidential to anyone but the lawyers involved in the case, including banning Craig from viewing the report.

Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot threw out the Police's confidentiality application last month.

 
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