A GSG CASE|
DoJ vs. Private Software Developer
In this case General Systems Group (GSG) was retained by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) to analyze the source code of a complex litigation support package developed by a private party. The package consisted of 236,000 lines of source code (approximately 10 million bytes of source code), nine major subsystems, and hundreds of programs. GSG was engaged with extremely short lead time--just two weeks prior to the trial date.
The issue in question was a claim, on the part of the package developer, that in spite of the fact that the entire package had been developed over several years through a number of DoJ grants, the most recent version of the package was to be considered proprietary on the basis of alleged numerous proprietary changes to the source code and the addition of several new proprietary programs.
Going "Straight to the Source"
GSG was able, in the short time available, to process the massive amount of source code and collect and document the following facts:
GSG's Expert Opinions
On the basis of the above facts, GSG was able to offer the following expert opinions:
Assuming the lowest possible programmer productivity and the highest labor costs, the actual "proprietary" contents could be estimated to correspond to:
This maximum possible development expense for the new, proprietary portion was absolutely dwarfed by the amount of public money DoJ had invested in the development of the whole package, thus invalidating the vendor's claim that the package was no longer in the public domain.
In addition GSG was able to present expert testimony on the quality of the developer's systems for tracking software development costs; to counter totally the testimony of the developer's expert witness; and to present a clear opinion on what the changes comprised. The latter opinion made it clear, in turn, that the motivation for the changes was not innovation but rather correction of defects of the earlier version.
The key advantage GSG brought to the DoJ legal team was the
extreme speed and sound technical approach (based on very
sophisticated computer tools) used to unearth this bonanza of evidence
from the notoriously thorny medium, computer source code.
The speed and thoroughness of our analysis truly bewildered the other
team causing them to make a number of bad moves and contradictory
statements further weakening their overall case.