A Washington, D.C.-based non-profit is firing back at a company which has accused it of copyright infringement in Pakistan, filing a trade libel suit against it in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Urban Institute, an economic and social policy researcher, alleges that Fincon Services, a company of “unknown registration” with offices in the United States, Canada and Pakistan, has falsely accused it in the Pakistani media and courts of pirating software the non-profit created for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
It’s calling the effort a shakedown, aimed at getting the Institute to hire Fincon in the future.
In 2006, The Institute was hired by USAID to design financial management software for its Pakistani operations. In a complaint filed last week, the Institute alleges that after winning the project, it was approached by Fincon, which offered to work as a subcontractor producing code for the program. The Institute declined, instead choosing a former Fincon employee.
Last month, Fincon sent the Institute a letter accusing it of having hijacked its software. The letter demanded that the Institute stop distributing the program, and asked for $5 million.
The non-profit said no, and on February 20th, Fincon sued it in Pakistani court. The Institute’s complaint also accuses Fincon of secretly meeting with USAID officials in an effort to interfere with the Institute’s contract, and of orchestrating a media campaign to tar its public reputation.
As an example, the complaint includes an article from Pakistan’s The International News, in which unnamed sources accuse the Institute of installing pirated software on computers to defraud USAID.
“The reason why the sources were ‘wishing not to be named’ is because they know that their statements are false and defamatory,” the complaint says.
The Institute’s complaint asks for a declaratory judgment confirming that they did not pirate any of Fincon’s software, and accuses the company of trade libel, interference with contracts and unfair competition, among other counts. It is seeking unspecified damages.