A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Bitmanagement Software GMBH vs. The United States determined the United States was not liable for copyright infringement because, based on the interactions between the parties, the Navy was authorized to copy Bitmanagement’s software on 350,000 computers. Bitmanagement is a German company that develops software for rendering three-dimensional graphics and one of their primary products is a three-dimensional renderer named BS Contact Geo.

Background: Floating Software Licenses Led to Copyright Infringement Allegations

In 2006, the Navy was developing a software application called SPIDERS 3D that provides a virtual reality environment for engineers and technicians to view and optimize configurations of Navy installations. During the development of this application, the Navy realized a need for the inclusion of a three-dimensional visualization software within SPIDERS 3D. To fill this need, the Navy procured BS Contact Geo on three separate occasions in 2006, 2008 and 2012 through a software reseller, Planet 9, who Bitmanagement used to market and sell Bitmanagement’s products in the United States.


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On July 26, 2016, responding to rising cyber attacks and public criticism, the federal government issued a Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-41), to clarify the role of law enforcement agencies, to increase coordination across the government, and to divide cybersecurity efforts into three categories: asset response, threat response and intelligence support. PPD-41 outlines five key principles for the federal government and federal agencies in complying with the “whole-government” approach to cybersecurity. Although the initiative is directed at the federal government and sector-specific agencies, private entities are also likely to be affected and are instructed on the best practice for cyber incident reporting.

PPD-41 emphasizes unity in the government’s response to cybersecurity incidents, outlining five guiding principles of the directive. In structuring incident reporting and protection mechanisms, the government seeks to emphasize shared responsibility, increased awareness, risk-based responses, respect to entities affected by the incident, unity in governmental efforts in responding to an incident, and allowing effective restoration and recovery following a cybersecurity breach. In distributing the responsibilities of cybersecurity, the government delineates specific agencies to take charge of the three categories of protection. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will lead asset response activities and post-breach recovery needs, the Department of Justice (DOJ) in collaboration with the FBI will be in charge of threat response, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will head intelligence support.


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In the October 2014 issue of Service Contractor magazine, I authored the article “Will ‘Innovation’ Return to the Small Business Innovation Research Program?” In the article, I outline the recent changes that were implemented to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and highlight challenges that remain for an important R&D tool for small businesses.