Software giant Microsoft recently filed a lawsuit against Community Health Systems, a Kentucky-based hospital management company. Microsoft believes CHS used copyrighted software without an appropriate license.
According to the lawsuit, Microsoft believes that CHS both willfully infringed upon the Microsoft copyrights and breached their contract. Microsoft entered into a 17-year agreement to provide CHS with a variety of software. According to Microsoft, CHS was barred from allowing anyone outside of its registered users to have access to the software. The contract also granted Microsoft the right to audit CHS and verify compliance.
The crux of the suit focuses on hospitals that CHS is in the process of divesting. Despite these hospitals becoming their own legal entity, these divested hospitals continued to use software licenses acquired by CHS from Microsoft instead of entering into their own contracts. In 2016, Microsoft communicated to CHS that the company wanted to verify compliance with the agreement. Despite this request, Microsoft claims that CHS only provided a fraction of the total data requested. The lawsuit is seeking damages and an order preventing CHS from further infringing on Microsoft's copyright. The court filings also reflect a requested court order mandating that CHS fully comply with Microsoft's audit efforts and allow an onsite audit.
Willful copyright infringement can be a major burden on a copyright holder. When a company finds that copyright has been infringed upon, the owners may consider discussing the case with an attorney with experience in copyright law. In infringement cases, it is not always necessary to file a lawsuit to resolve a dispute. An attorney may be able to guide the company through the process of protecting a copyright.