World Programming Limited (WPL) develop and sell the World Programming System (WPS), an interpreter for the language of SAS. A great alternative - Request a free evaluation of WPS.
High Court says that WPS is lawful clone of SAS system
LONDON, UK – 23 July 2010 – World Programming Ltd (WPL), a fast-growing UK-based company and a relatively recent entrant to the world of data management and business analytics software, has today secured a major legal victory in the High Court against analytics software giant SAS Institute, heralding the end of SAS Institute's 30 year monopoly in platforms for SAS language applications.
In a High Court verdict handed down today, Friday 23 July, Mr Justice Arnold rejected SAS's claim that WPL's drop in clone of the SAS System infringes the copyright in the SAS system or the copyright in SAS's Manuals. In addition, European law protected WPL from breach of SAS’s licence terms where WPL used the SAS Learning Edition to observe, study and test its programming functions when it developed WPS. Following previous UK case law and the EU Software Directive, the judgment reasoned that copyright protects the source code of the SAS system as a literary work which WPL had not copied and that replicating the functions of software, however complex and at what ever level of detail, is not an infringement of copyright.
Customers who have legacy programs written in the SAS Language will now be able to choose whether to continue with the SAS system or elect for the far less expensive alternative where WPS software provides the required functionality.
The only area in this large and complex case where the judgment went against WPL was that Mr Justice Arnold ruled that the wording of one of the WPS user manuals was too close to the wording of SAS's user manuals although he accepted that WPL's management had policies in place to avoid this happening. WPL will now withdraw and re-write that manual in the light of the findings in the judgment, but this has no impact on WPL's customers or on WPL's ability to supply WPS or support its customers.
Commenting on the judgment, Oliver Robinson of WPL said:
"It has been a long old tussle during which every possible argument and procedural device have been thrown at us. Thanks to the very determined support and commitment from our legal team and staff we have clearly established the validity of WPS as a legitimate and lawful alternative to SAS. We are looking forward to competing with SAS Institute in the expanding market for data analytics and continuing to offer great value and quality to our loyal and growing worldwide customer base".
Alexander Carter-Silk, head of IP, Technology and Commercial at Speechly Bircham who led the WPL legal defence team added:
"By expediting this hearing and controlling procedural devices, the courts have provided WPL with access to justice. The levels of complexity and arguments developed during the case were exceptionally challenging but I have no doubt at all that the right result was achieved".
Thanks to the clarity and depth of the court's reasoning, the UK now leads Europe in the interpretation of the EU Computer Software directive. The court will now refer its judgment to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for that court to confirm its interpretation of the directive at European level.
Whilst a judgment of the ECJ may be three years away, the UK judgment opens the way for WPL to continue innovating and opening new markets.
The history of the WPL vs. SAS Institute Case:
The SAS Institute brought the case against WPL in October 2009 and alleged misuse of
the SAS Learning Edition, breach of copyright and other intellectual property infringements.
WPL applied to the High Court in England for an expedited trail because it considered the allegations were without merit and that WPL's business was being damaged by the publicity that the SAS Institute had made of the claim.
An expedited trail was agreed by the court and the full trial was heard in London during three weeks in June 2010. Judgment was passed down on Friday 23rd July 2010.
EU Software Directive: This is a European Union Directive which seeks to harmonise copyright law across all 27 member states of the European Union. It was enacted by the Treaty of Rome in 2001. The Software Directive has been amended recently to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty which is an international treaty of some 184 member countries.
European Court of Justice: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the highest court of the European Union in matters of European Union Law. It is not possible to appeal the decisions of national courts to the ECJ, but rather national courts refer questions of EU law to the ECJ
In the WPL vs. SAS Institute case Mr Justice Arnold has expressed his own conclusions
in favour of WPL but he has asked the ECJ to clarify that his judgment is in line with
European Law. This is not the same as an appeal but is a reference.
European Treaties require the ECJ to ensure the consistent application of EU law across the EU as a whole in an attempt to avoid different national courts interpreting and applying law in different ways.
Whilst the reference process takes time the end product is consistent application of law across the European Union that now has 27 member states and 22 official languages.
European Law must also harmonize with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties, in particular the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT). The WCT is an international treaty with major countries including member states of the European Union and the United States of America as signatories.
Speechly Bircham: Speechly Bircham is a City law firm with a strong focus on personal service and building long term relationships with clients. Over 250 lawyers provide transactional, advisory and dispute resolution services to three main client markets: business clients, private clients and clients in the real estate, construction and engineering sector. Commercial clients include UK and international listed companies, banks, financial institutions, funds, professional services organisations, entrepreneurs and privately owned businesses. The firm’s highly regarded private client practice looks after the interests of private individuals, families and trusts.
Speechly Bircham Intellectual Property, Technology and Commercial:
Speechly Bircham's IP, Technology & Commercial group provides a 360° solution advising clients on all
aspects of managing, exploiting, defending, promoting and extending their intangible assets
so as to maximise returns and minimise threats. The group advises technology suppliers and
users, as well as businesses, entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals, celebrities and
insurers on branding, technology transfer, protection of reputation, data protection and
information security and dispute resolution. Much of the group’s work is international.
For further information about Speechly Bircham please visit: www.speechlys.com
World Programming Limited produces the WPS
Software for use by a wide range of users from individuals and academics to multi-national
businesses and organisations. Their software supports the language of SAS for processing data
on Workstations, Servers and Mainfraime systems. Over eight years World Programming has built
a highly-rated reputation for reliability, cost savings and customer support.
For further information about World Programming and WPS Software please visit: www.teamwpc.co.uk
SAS: SAS is the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market and is used in over 100 countries.