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Software company sues Ford Motor Company for $1 billion

Image from the Collections of The Henry Ford

Updated: 8:16 pm 6/28/15

The attorney representing a software firm suing Ford Motor Company is taking the complaint on the road, complete with gimmicks to get media attention.

Lanny Davis will hold a press conference in Detroit next month in front of a fake wall with a hole punched in it, to represent his claim that Ford breached a firewall intended to protect Versata's intellectual property.

Davis says publicity is the only way to even the legal playing field, which he likens to a David versus Goliath battle (Ford being Goliath.)

"The only way that we can get a successful result is to let the public, consumers, shareholders - people who think the name Ford means honor - to let everyone know," says Davis.

Davis says Ford used (and paid for) Versata's design modification software program for years - while it developed an in-house replacement capitalizing on Versata's intellectual property.

The program allows designers to quickly make design modifications when adding new features such as entertainment systems.

Davis says Ford allowed an employee familiar with the Versata program to oversee employees working on the replacement, and the result was "methodology, techniques, concepts that could only be derived from us."

Ford Motor Company issued this statement in response to the claims:

Ford’s patented software does not use or infringe any Versata intellectual property. Ford filed an Eastern District of Michigan lawsuit against Versata several months before Versata’s Eastern District of Texas lawsuit. Versata’s Texas case is a retaliatory attempt to avoid the lawsuit in Michigan, where Ford’s software was developed and used. Ford will move to dismiss or transfer the Texas case to Michigan.

Davis says Ford's lawsuit was initially filed under seal in order to attempt to avoid publicity about the dispute.

Correction:  An earlier version of this story said that attorneys for Versata would hold a press conference in Detroit "this week." 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.