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Firm says Epicor wants to 'monopolize' services market for its ERP software

Chris Kanaracus | April 18, 2013
An IT services firm recently sued by Epicor has responded, calling the claims "unwarranted" and part of an attempt on Epicor's part to "monopolize" the services market for its ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.

An IT services firm recently sued by Epicor has responded, calling the claims "unwarranted" and part of an attempt on Epicor's part to "monopolize" the services market for its ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.

Epicor sued Alternative Technology Solutions in March, alleging that the company illegally used Epicor's software to create and sell "bolt-on" products and services. Such add-ons can't be created without access to Epicor's applications, but Alternative has never licensed the software, nor has Epicor given a third party permission to give Alternative access, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Instead, Alternative has "duplicated" the software or managed to access it illegally, violating Epicor's intellectual property as well as software license agreements between Epicor and customers, according to the suit. Alternative has also given customers the erroneous impression that it is an authorized Epicor partner through the use of Epicor trademarks, the suit alleges.

A number of Alternative employees, including CEO Vivian Keena, once worked at Epicor.

"Our customers came to us because they sought the services or solutions they knew we could provide," Keena said in a statement. "We've enabled them to gain greater value from their Epicor investment -- which means they remain on Epicor maintenance and remain an Epicor customer."

Alternative's response to the suit, which was filed last week, denied the company used Epicor's software in an illegal manner. It also said Alternative provides implementation services as well as "customized solutions" that fill gaps in ERP functionality, but that it "does not program using Epicor source code and has not and does not create software patches, add-ons, 'bolt-ons' or standalone programs."

Epicor claimed Alternative consultants remotely used copies of Epicor software in a sandbox environment, and alleged Alternative provided these consultants with "unlimited access to Epicor's current product literature and training manuals."

Alternative's response rejects the latter charge and states that customers' end-user license agreements authorizes servicing through remote access test environments.

The dispute between the parties extends back more than three years, when Epicor's general counsel sent Keena a letter that claimed she was using Epicor's "proprietary information without authorization," according to Alternative's filing.

Alternative responded to the letter in October 2009 but Epicor subsequently "remained silent" until December 2012, when it sent Alternative a cease-and-desist letter, according to Alternative. In between, Epicor and Alternative "engaged in a close business relationship," it adds.

In fact, Epicor and Alternative engaged in discussions about the authorized partner program in 2010 and Alternative received written and verbal confirmation that it could join, according to the response.

But negotiations subsequently dragged on and in April 2012 Epicor asked Alternative to put a disclaimer on its website regarding the "non-affiliation" of the two companies, the response adds.

 

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