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Singapore firm West Precision Engineering has lost an S$359,284 judgment filed against it by Software Alliance (BSA) member Siemens Digital Industries Software for copyright infringement.

The manufacturer and supplier of moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures was found to have wilfully used copies of Siemens’ software according to court filings.

“BSA members take a serious view on software copyright infringement,” said Tarun Sawney, senior director (Asia-Pacific), BSA. “They are committed to protecting their intellectual property and the interests of their customers, and ensuring a level playing field.”

“We urge all businesses in Singapore to be vigilant in managing their software to ensure they are using only legal and fully licensed software in the workplace,” added Sawney.

The chain of events that lead to this judgement began in March 2018 when West Precision Engineering was found to have installed two unlicensed seats of NX software with modules that have a market value of S$359,284.

Subsequently, Siemens filed a writ of summons and statement of claim with the High Court of Singapore in April 2019. A default judgment was granted by the Court in Siemens’ favour, but when multiple efforts to reach a settlement with West Precision proved unsuccessful, Siemens proceeded to file a Summons for Garnishee Order with the Court to freeze its bank account. 

The matter was eventually settled between Siemens and West Precision.

Under Section 136(3A) of Singapore’s Copyright Act, first-time copyright offenders may face a fine of up to S$20,000 or a maximum jail term of six months, or both. The Act also allows a copyright owner to claim statutory damages against infringers in civil proceedings.

An infringer could be required to pay up to S$10,000 for each work infringed, or up to S$200,000 in aggregate. A higher quantum may be awarded where the copyright owner can prove that significant losses were suffered as a result of the infringement.

Companies that use unlicensed software not only risk legal ramifications, they are also exposing themselves to cyberattacks that can compromise corporate and customer data. According to the 2018 BSA Global Software Survey, businesses have a one-in-three chance of malware attack when they install unlicensed software.

Each malware attack can cost a company US$2.4 million on average and can take up to 50 days to resolve, and if it leads to downtime or customer and business data loss, can seriously affect the company’s brand and reputation.

The same report found that 27 per cent of software installed on personal computers in Singapore were unlicensed, suggesting that many businesses could be at risk of legal action and cyberattacks that could result in data breaches and crippling downtime.

“Companies that do not manage their software effectively may inadvertently be putting themselves and their customers at risk,” said Sawney.

“We encourage all companies to adopt a robust Software Asset Management (SAM) process,” he added. “This will not only help them to mitigate risks, but also enable them to enhance productivity and extract the maximum benefit from their software investments.”

To help companies implement SAM, BSA has launched BSA Verafirm, an online initiative of BSA and leading software publishers that provides ISO/IEC 19770-1 Standard-based education, tools, and certifications to help organisations effectively manage their software environment.

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