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The software was written by me and my company, in its entirety. There are some open source libraries included
Yes, there are clear footprints and some aspects are publicly visible
What are the losses you have suffered here - I presume you lost the business of the customer as a result?
Its difficult to quantify - its a hosted system that we are rolling out to a number of end customers
The worst case is that the other company affects future sales to other end customers, the best is that this is the only only loss and the financial loss is a few hundred pounds from future upgrades from this one customer
One question I had, was whether I can demand to inspect the competitors software - it may not be necessary, but if there is a dispute over whether they are using mine
This would be a potential breach of copyright. If you were the original creator of the software in question then you would automatically own the copyright to it. There would be no need to have registered it anywhere for you to enjoy these rights and it is something you get as a given if you are the original creator. Therefore, if someone else has used your copyrighted work without your consent they would be acting in breach of copyright. You are then able to consider pursuing them for any losses incurred as a result. That may not necessarily cover the continued business of a customer because there may not have been any guarantee that they would have continued with you regardless but the current losses relating to this project may certainly be included.
You cannot force them to allow you to inspect the software but if you have reasonable evidence to suspect it is your work that was used and the copyright breached you can threaten to instigate legal proceedings to pursue them for any damages and in the process ask them to allow you to inspect it.
I was thinking I may ask them for a licence fee, or take action to stop them using the using the software, am I right in thinking I can demand they stop using it?
Yes certainly, this is known as a cease and desist request where you make a formal request that they stop infringing your copyrighted work and that if they fail to do so then you would take the matter further
Is there any advantage to using a solicitor or is it fairly straightforward?
and if I needed proof would screenshots taken by me count or would they need to be taken by somebody independent ?
legally it makes no difference if you use a solicitor or not, you can send the letter yourself to keep costs down but some pay more attention to a letter from a lawyer than yourself...you never know. You can use any evidence you have, whether taken by you or not, anything that shows you may have a valid case
Do you do solicitors letters?
I am afraid we don't we just deal with our customers through this site
and finally, I found their development site, which is why I know whats happening - do I need to wait until they go live before I start action?
No, any unauthorised use of copyrighted material qualifies
I think thats it, thanks
appreciate your time today
you are most welcome, all the best