Source Code Confusion

Source Code Confusion

Source code production can sometimes be the source of confusion. For example, in CQuest America, Inc. v. Yahasoft, Inc., when the defendant misinterpreted the plaintiff’s request for production, it resulted in a PDF of a log that listed the sections of code that developers had changed and not the complete source code in its native format.

The background: When the Illinois Dept. of Human Services contracted with CQuest America, Inc. for claims processing services, CQuest turned to Yahasoft, Inc. to provide the software system and more. And when the latter partnership fizzled, CQuest sued Yahasoft for breach of contract. What followed was CQuest’s emergency motion to compel the production of source code for the software that Yahasoft had developed.

As documented by the court, CQuest contended that when it received the incomplete production from Yahasoft in a PDF log of source code changes, thus removing them from context, the understanding was removed as well. Furthermore, the metadata was removed, which informed who made which changes and when.

As a result, the court found that Yahasoft had misinterpreted CQuest’s original request and had failed to comply with the original court order. The court ordered Yahasoft to produce the source code and, notably, in its native format.

As the demand for source code production moves beyond patent and copyright matters, counsel should consider the value in being informed about its intricacies. LLM, Inc.’s recent white paper on source code production offers a sound primer.

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