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  • Writer's pictureFred Wilf

Lessons From Litigation Over Trucking Software

Recently, Samsara sued Motive regarding their respective software products used to help track fleets. An article discussing the case (below) is helpful to identify issues that face every technology company, whether in startup, emerging growth, or mature.

I have not reviewed the filings in the case, so I’m guessing at some of the details. Not surprisingly, it sounds like Samsara’s counsel alleged every possible claim they could bring, which is how litigation works. The article references several potential intellectual property infringement / misappropriation claims:

  • Trade secrets: Samsara claims that Motive should not have been reviewing Samsara’s technology. However, under US law, there is nothing wrong with learning about a rival’s trade secrets through “proper means,” which means that anyone is permitted to access and learn publicly-available copies of the rival’s technology. However, trade secret law prohibits the use of “improper means” to learn trade secrets, including bribing a rival’s employee, or hacking into the rival’s password-protected computer system.

  • Patents: If Samsara has patents on particular inventions in its technologies, and if Motive implemented those inventions in its technologies, then it may still be a patent infringement if Motive’s implementation is the same as or equivalent to Samsara’s invention. In the patent context, it can still be (and often is) an infringement if the technologies are equivalent, even if the second party had no actual knowledge of the first party’s invention.

  • Copyrights: The article does not mention any copyright claims. Those would come up if Samsara had alleged that Motive actually copied the underlying code. Copyright does not, however, protect ideas. So, Motive is free to review Samsara’s software, and then build new software from scratch.

  • Unfair competition and false advertising: According to the article, “Samsara also said that Motive began to "mirror" it in 2022, mimicking its business model and copying its mission statement, tagline and blog posts for advertising.” This is a state claim that is somewhat similar to trademark law. The claim is that Motive is unfairly competing with Samsara by confusing customers with the same or confusingly-similar attributes that Samsara uses in its customer-facing communications. False advertising is a similar claim in that (at least in the US) any technology company may compare its technology to its rival’s technology in advertising so long as the comparison is correct and complete.

This article is certainly instructive of some of the risks that any growing technology company faces currently. If you find yourself or your company in this position, please contact us at Wilftek LLC to discuss.


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