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Details about InstallShield vs. Wise Lawsuit

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Stefan Krueger

Stefan Krueger


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Posted 27 July 2003 - 14:53

I've had the chance to read the complaint that InstallShield Software Corp. filed against Wise Solutions, Inc., which includes details of what information has been misappropriated, how it was done, and what evidence InstallShield provided.

Before reading on please be aware that this is a pending legal matter, and the information below has been provided by one of the parties in this lawsuit. Wise did not reply to my request for a comment on this lawsuit.

According to the log files of InstallShield's FTP server, it appears that Wise has accessed the server on a regular basis, about each business day, for almost a year (maybe even longer, but older log files are not available). The log file recorded the IP address of the accessing computer, which resolves to wisesolutions.com. In most cases, the accounts of two InstallShield employees have been used. It is unknown, how Wise was able to obtain the required passwords. According to InstallShield's Director of Systems, the passwords consist of "computer-generated random series of characters" so they could not easily be broken by guesswork.

InstallShield claims that:

  • Wise downloaded two databases or mailing lists with addresses of more than 100,000 existing and prospective customers. Wise used these data to send advertising mails to these addresses, offering them discounts on Wise products. These databases also included some "decoy" entries, using made-up company names in conjunction with existing addresses, e.g. the home addresses of an InstallShield manager, or his wife's maiden name. The misappropriation was discovered as these fake addresses received advertisement from Wise.
  • Wise obtained a draft of InstallShield's advertising campaign. Last year, InstallShield was preparing a campaign with the slogan "Cast your .NET Far and Wide". Shortly before the campaign started, Wise published ads with the slogan "Cast your .NET Far and Wise". While this may have seemed to be a co-incidence at that time, InstallShield now found out that Wise had downloaded the ad material.
  • Wise downloaded customer support files. InstallShield customers use the FTP server to upload scripts, conflict databases, and the like, in conjunction with support request they submit to InstallShield. Some of these files have been downloaded by Wise, giving them insight to technical issues that customers are experiencing, as well as the internal working of InstallShield products. InstallShield believes that this information enabled Wise to add automated migration capabilities to their products to make it easier for InstallShield customers to switch to Wise. In fact, Wise has been running several "switch" campaigns.
  • Wise downloaded a beta version of AdminStudio 5.0. InstallShield requires beta testers to register before they receive the password to install the beta version. Using the password of an InstallShield employee Wise was able to download the software from the FTP server without InstallShield's permission. Thus Wise was able to anticipate new product features before it's release.
  • Wise downloaded a PDF version of an unpublished book. More than two months before the "Administrator's Introduction to Application Repackaging and Software Deployment using Windows Installer" was available in print, Wise downloaded an electronic copy, using a confidential username and password. They also obtained electronic versions of other books and training manuals in the same way.

In a civil action InstallShield demands (among others) that Wise pay them more than 2 million dollars damages, plus the revenues received by Wise as a result of its use of InstallShield's mailing lists.

The FBI and United States Attorney are also investigating the matter and searched the offices of Wise Solutions.