EC to pay €12 million over copyright breach


The European Commission (EC) has been told to pay over 12 million (10.2 million) to software provider Systran for breaching copyright laws.

Systran provided the EC with UNIX-based translation software between 1997 and 2002. The European body brought about legal action by Systran after it launched a tender for maintenance in 2003, asking other companies to upgrade the translation systems.

The software provider claimed the EC had impinged on the company's intellectual property rights by allowing other firms to work on its translation software.

The case has come to a close after almost four years of legal wrangling and Systran claimed the EU General Court's decision was an historic one.

"Following ten years of fighting and a court proceeding lasting nearly four years, the General Court of the European Union has recognised Systran's intellectual property rights," Systran said in a statement.

"For the first time, a European institution has been condemned in such a manner and to such a degree."

The court also warned if Systran's IP rights are not better protected in future, the software firm could sue the commission yet again.

"It is for the Commission to draw all appropriate conclusions in order to ensure that Systran's rights in the Systran Unix version are taken into account as concerns the work relating to the EC-Systran Unix version," the court said.

"If they are not taken into account, given that the damage for which compensation is awarded in this case holds only for the period from 2004 to the date of delivery of this judgment, Systran would be entitled to bring before the General Court a fresh action seeking damages in respect of the further damage it might suffer."

In the UK, a debate surrounding IP laws is rumbling on. Last week, a call for evidence was launched in order to assess whether legislation in the country has hindered businesses in the digital age.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.