Thursday, July 19, 2012

BSA runs into resistance in Indonesia

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) finds itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit in the Jakarta District Court. The Indonesian police conducted a raid in September 2011 on PT. Multisari Langgengjaya a local food company for possession of unlicensed business software. The BSA provided software identification, negotiations began with an offer to pay compensation and everyone expected the case to be settled upon payment of license fees, as is normal in such cases.

However Multisari hired a well known IP litigator and sued BSA's Singapore, Indonesia and Washington DC offices/entities in the Central Jakarta District Court objecting to the search of their offices and employees. There appear to be two basic claims. One is that the search warrant documentation was incorrect and not properly signed. Secondly the case asserts that the BSA Indonesia representatives had no authority to represent software copyright holders concerned (Microsoft, Tekla, Adobe, Autodesk etc) and BSA Indonesia is not properly established in Indonesia. Multisari is seeking damages totaling Rp1.25 billion and asked the judge declared the defendant has committed acts against the law.

In reply the BSA argued that the police conducted the search and not the BSA. They said the raids were part of a series of investigations undertaken for the benefit of various parties and there was authority.  The Plaintiffs certainly hammed up the claim, asserting the compensation sought was blackmail, and then in the media, that Indonesia's sovereignty has been violated.
The case got quickly bogged down in preliminary disputes over whether the case was a criminal matter or related to a tort, which would impact the pretrial procedures. But now the judges have thrown these out and the case will proceed.

BSA seems technically correct that the police conduct raids. But the police hardly ever act without requests from rights holders and representatives (which is why everyone complains at the lack of IP enforcement!) Quite often legal procedures get short circuited in Indonesia. But IP Komodo cannot recall anyone suing over such details in the past.

Contrast that with the Philippines where half the search warrants get attacked for validity and many do get overturned (IP Komodo in no way supports that - it's usually lawyers gone mad, and Philippines judges let them get away with it). Somewhere in the middle must be a happy medium, where proper procedures are followed and are then not challenged. Everyone is watching this Indonesia enforcement related case with interest.

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