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Copyright Blog

Out with the Old and in with the New?

University Files Complaint against Former Employee over Cybersecurity Software


A few days ago, on November 28, 2022, The Board of Trustees for the University of Alabama ("Alabama") filed a Complaint against Vahid Heydari ("Heydari") claiming that Heydari infringed on Alabama's cybersecurity software.


The Complaint alleges that Heydari is a former graduate student at The University of Alabama in Hunstville and that, while studying there, Heydari created the software in question. He gave full ownership of the software to Alabama, and Alabama then entered a licensing agreement with a private company called Obtego Cyber, LLC ("Obtego") to use the software in their company. Obtego agreed that they would not permit third parties to use the software and that any derivative works based on the software would belong to Alabama.

After leaving Alabama, Heydari started to work with Obtego. In January 2021, Heydary developed what he called "new" software that performed a similar function that the old software did. Similar to Heydari's agreement when he worked with Alabama, he made Obtego the sole owners of this "new" software, though this time he did it for a fee. Heydari has refused to disclose the source code of the software for comparison to see if his "new" software is different from the original software, but Alabama's Complaint seeks a declaration that the "new" software is a derivative work based on the original.

Heydari has also allegedly begun offering the software to customers of his own—removing Alabama or Obtego from the picture. Heydari has also threatened to disclose the source code to the public, and thus remove the value of the software.

Based on the facts asserted in the Complaint, Alabama is claiming both copyright infringement and trade secret appropriation. We will continue with updates on this case when they become available.