Spiral Information Systems v. Assistant Commissioner of Police
In the Kerala High Court
WP(C) No. 18834 of 2015
Before Justice K. Ramakrishnan
Decided on September 10, 2015
Relevancy of the case: Unauthorizedly using a software’s source code by an ex-employee for launching a new software
Statutes & Provisions Involved
• The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 43, 65, 66, 72)
• The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 149, 376, 406, 415, 420)
• The Indian Copyright Act 1957 (Section 63)
• The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Section 156(3))
Relevant Facts of the Case
• The petitioner is a partnership firm registered under the Partnership Act 1932, engaging in the business of software development.
• The 4th respondent joined as a software developer and tester in 2003 along with two other persons Jyothish P. and Jithin E. They were working on an Enterprises Software, and style “Accent”, developed by petitioner over 5 years by spending more than 75 lakhs.
• In 2008, due to the useful features of the Software product, petitioner gained reputed clients like M/s Bharti Airtel Ltd. Sh. Cinoj Valookaran was assigned with marketing the software product and subsequently in 2009 while negotiating with M/s Indus Towers Limited, he along with other respondents informed the petitioner about their resignation citing personal reasons.
• During the second half of 2010, petitioner discovered that the 4th respondent has unauthorisedly taken the source code of the software product and was selling it after making minor modifications. The petitioner filed a civil writ petition seeking several reliefs under the provisions of the IT Act and Copyright Act.
Prominent Arguments by the Advocates
• The learned counsel for the 4th respondent submitted that there is already a civil suit instituted before the District Court, Ernakulam as O.S.No. 16/2012 under the Copyright Act for a negative declaration that the Software developed by the 4th respondent and the petitioner concern are one and the same and the 4th respondent cannot claim any copyright over the disputed product. Also, the 4th respondent filed a petition before the District Court for sending the disputed software of both the parties for expert opinion.
Opinion of the Bench
• Considering the statement filed by the 2nd respondent, the Court felt that there was no necessity to issue any direction to expedite the investigation as they are conducting an investigation in the proper direction and they have also stated the reason for the delay in proceeding with the investigation as well. The Court cannot direct the investigating agency since the investigation required is a scientific investigation as well, which may take time.
• W.P.(C) No.18834/2015 is disposed of, directing the 2nd respondent to take steps to expedite the request pending before District Police Chief for obtaining the expert report and file a final report as expeditiously as possible.