Several clients have asked for advice on a recent injunction against Lawson related to patent infringements alleged by ePlus.
According to ePlus, their patents
“involve electronic procurement, and the inventions allow end-users to perform a wide variety of functions, including, but not limited to:
- perform electronic searches, selections and comparisons as well as review items in multiple supplier catalogs;
- find equivalent items and suitable replacements;
- generate purchase orders from multiple vendors; and
- electronically check inventory”
Regardless of your (or my) opinion on software patents, the patent courts do exist for a reason. I’m not an attorney, and I won’t speculate as to whether Lawson actually infringed or not.
The way I read this and other case documentation, the alleged infringements and resulting injunction appear limited to functionality provided by Lawson Requisition Self Service (RSS). Therefore, the primary question is whether or not Lawson will continue to support RSS. According to e-Plus’ release:
Judge Payne’s order provides a limited sunset period which permits Lawson to continue maintaining and servicing the infringing software products until November 23, 2011 to those customers who purchased the infringing products prior to January 27, 2011 and who are only providers of healthcare services.
The way I see it: assuming the injunction and/or infringement ruling are not overturned, and if you are not a healthcare service provider, Lawson will not support you on any requisitions/RSS-related issues.
Lawson is appealing the injunction and the infringement ruling. In the meantime, and regardless of the ultimate outcome, they have released a replacement product for RSS called “Requisition Center” (“RQC”) which removes any potentially infringing functionality.
I have installed RQC for several clients. All indications thus far indicate a transparent change for the users. It is a minimal impact install.
Given that 1) RQC is the replacement for RSS, 2) assuming the injunction and/or infringement ruling is not overturned, and 3) RSS support from Lawson will potentially not be provided for you, it is recommended that you install RQC in order to continue support for requisitions.