CURRENT MATTERS

Software developer targets Fidelity with $100M suit
by Edward Mason
September 27, 2002

In a case of David v. Goliath, FMR Corp., the parent company of mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments, has been named in a $100 million lawsuit, accused of stealing software developed by a person who later became one of its own employees.

John A. Davidson, the Fidelity employee, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Boston, charging that FMR violated federal copyright law by copying and distributing software he developed but wasn't properly paid for — a claim common in the business world, experts said. Reached by telephone, Davidson declined to discuss the lawsuit. His attorney, Jerrold G. Neeff, said it was a case of a small inventor having his creation stolen by a massive corporation. Based on the number of computers he believes use the software, as well as standard calculations for figuring copyright claims, Neeff said his client is owed $100 million. FMR denied any wrongdoing. "Based on the information provided to us and our review, we've decided that this lawsuit is without merit," said Vincent Loporchio, a spokesman who, citing company policy on ongoing litigation, declined further comment. According to court documents, in 1994 Davidson met with FMR executives to pitch software he claims to have developed to perform surveys, such as those for customer satisfaction. Davidson, then chief executive of his own company, Advanced Decision Management Inc. of South Natick, demonstrated the software that August.

In November 1994, Fidelity paid $399 for a single copy of the survey software to test, according to an invoice Davidson's attorney supplied and plans to file in court. Neeff, the lawyer representing Davidson, said the invoice clearly warned that the software was protected by copyright laws and could only be installed on a single computer. A company executive allegedly told Davidson that Fidelity senior management would have to assess the software before any more could be bought. But those purchases never happened. After putting him off, Davidson claimed, Fidelity eventually decided not to buy any more of his software. Loporchio would not comment on Davidson's account. Without Fidelity as a customer, Davidson found it difficult to persuade other companies to buy his survey software, said Charles Roth, who was Advanced Decision Management's chief software architect. For some time, Roth said, Davidson had been wooing customers with the promise that Fidelity had expressed interest in his creation. Now there was nothing to show for it.

"It was catastrophic," Roth said. "We looked like turkeys."

With a potential client base decimated, Davidson all but gave up on his company. Although it remains a going concern, Neeff said, Davidson in 1997 took a job at Fidelity working as a software project manager. Not long after arriving there, he discovered what he claims in court documents was the software he developed installed "on multiple computers" at Fidelity. "It's a classic story," said Andrew Beckerman-Radau, a professor in intellectual property law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. Inventors frequently hand over a product for testing by a company without proper guarantees it won't be misappropriated, Beckerman-Radau explained. Other times, they will sign away a copyright to get an invention before a company's executives in the naive hope it will be bought. Davidson's complaint, though, insists the copyright was in effect.

Asked why Davidson continues to work at Fidelity, Neeff said his client had been trying to settle the conflict without going to court. Those talks, he said, are ongoing. FMR's Loporchio declined to confirm whether the parties have discussed settlement.

Source: Boston Business Journal


"Funniest Videos" star sues for $1M by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
Friday, October 18, 2002

David Sawicki may have had a smiley face shaved on his chest 10 years ago, but he ain't smilin' now. In fact, the Back Bay consulting cheese is so steamed about his unwilling drunken debut on ABC's ``America's Funniest Home Videos'' last summer, he's suing for a million bucks!

The decade-old clip, which aired July 5, showed his Boston University buddies getting in touch with their inner Picassos while Dave was passed out and shirtless in a Manhattan bach pad during a beer-soaked New Year's Eve. Sawicki charges in his suit filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court that he never gave his OK for the video to air. So the program, produced by Boston homeboy Vin Di Bona, was negligent when it disregarded its own policy of requiring releases ``from all identifiable persons depicted in the video,'' the suit says. Oops. In fact, Sawicki says he hasn't a clue who sent in the old clip to the show with the hope of scoring the $10,000 prize awarded weekly for the audience's favorite snippet of shameless amusement. And then, there are the charges of emotional distress. ``David's a pretty straight-laced guy with three kids,'' his attorney, Jerrold Neeff, told the Track. ``He's had many people approach him who have seen the video since it was obviously him. So he thinks it's been detrimental to him in the workplace and his standing in the community.'' A rep from ABC declined to comment on the suit. Sawicki, who works in Boston but recently moved his family to Maine, is not only suing the network, the Walt Disney Co. and Di Bona Productions: He's also going after - and hopes to halt - a company peddling a $140 ``America's Funniest Home Videos'' compilation tape which includes Dave's Auld Lang Syne shave. ``Seems like an awful lot of money is being made off of others' public humiliation,'' said Neeff, who has heard the clip has also popped up on the Internet. File under: College Daze?

Source: Boston Herald


Madonna's ex-boytoy not so happy over gay mixup
by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
Thursday, July 25, 2002

Madonna's former boytoy and bodyguard is suing the Material Girl's British biographer Andrew Morton for $1 million after he was misidentified in a photo caption.

Which doesn't seem so awful. But James Albright, who runs a Boston-based security firm, said in his suit in U.S. District Court that the person in the ``Madonna'' pic is ``outspoken homosexual'' Jose Guitierez. And people seeking a personal security guard have a problem with that! ``During Mr. Guitierez's appearances with Madonna worldwide, he was often dressed as a woman,'' Albright charges. ``And (he) engaged in acts on stage that some would clearly find homosexual, sexually graphic, lewd, lascivious, offensive and illegal.'' In other words, Madge was mad for him! Jerrold G. Neeff said by casting his client in the book as an overt homosexual ``has caused his client ``irreparable harm to his reputation and standing.'' But he warns that while Madonna's ex-muscle ``has nothing against homosexuality,'' the basis of the suit is that ``others in the profession do.'' ``He's got an attitude like Jerry Seinfeld's,'' said Neeff. ``You know, `not that there's anything wrong with that.' '' John Murphy, a spokesman for Morton's publisher, St. Martin's Press, told the Track the company's chief legal counsel has ``no information'' on the suit. But Neeff said he did talk to someone at St. Martin's who denied liability and told him homosexuality isn't considered a stigma in 2002. Sure - unless you're a bodyguard, Neeff argues. And, by the way, Albright is also suing Morton and Michael O'Mara Books Limited in London for breach of contract. The bodyguard - who is also a blabbermouth - claims Morton and O'Mara agreed to pay him $150,000 for tales about his romps with the (Not So) Like A Virgin. But Albright says he got stiffed on the dough and the info from her ex-lover that they used in the tawdry tome wasn't accurate. ``Andrew Morton is a sensationalist,'' said Neeff. Funny, Princess Di didn't think so . . .

Source: Boston Herald

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