US State Unfair Competition Laws Create Increased Exposure for Misappropriated IP

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For many years, information technology companies in the United States have expressed concern regarding what they have perceived to be the prevalence of pirated software in certain countries. One recent report, the Global Software Piracy Study, published earlier this month on May 15, 2012 by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), concludes that the commercial value of the world’s market of pirated software makes up US$63 billion. According to the report, the United States is one of the jurisdictions with the highest levels of misappropriated software, along with China, Russia, India and Brazil.

In response to these concerns, the United States Congress and certain states have re-evaluated anti-piracy and unfair trade practice legislation, with the early results potentially leading to the imposition of sanctions on those companies that are found to have stolen or misappropriated proprietary information technology (“IT”). Proponents of such legislation believe that the advantages such companies gain when using pirated software must be considered, among other things, as unfair competition.

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