Sign In
  • Question

    The product is delivered and works per specification. The government modifies the majority of the DoD's strike aircraft with this technology, after acquiring government purpose rights to the software. The contractor goes out of business for reasons other than the quality of their products as they were consistently at or above specifications. Down the road, the government must fund a major update to this software, but never acquired the source code. What is the government's recourse? Can the government legally fund, either through an in house R&D effort, or through another contract, an effort to reverse engineer this software?


    Answer

    The question and scenario are inconsistent.  If the Government received GPR, then the Government should have access to the source code.  Maybe the Government received GPR in a different aspect of the technology and not the software. 

     

    So, the inconsistency should be resolved. Was the source code a deliverable? Was it developed or substantially modified under the contract?   If not, then the Government will be hard pressed to say it has GPR.

     

    Another issue to be explored is bankruptcy process.  Who took ownership of the assets?  The Government could explore purchasing the software from the receiver; especially if the receiver is a financial operation.  They are most interested in selling off assets.

     

    The question of reverse engineering was also raised.  The Government can reverse engineer anything they wish. This is permissible and we see this happening more in more in the hardware sector with the 3D printing process. The issue of patent violation is not addressed here.

     

    Reverse engineering software poses a different set of issues.  The source code is not easily accessed without the expertise and without tremendous expenditure.  But, if the Government seeks to reverse engineer the source code, they can do so. 

    Open full Question Details