Legal Question in Technology Law in California

Court order to remove software

I'd like to konw how to get a court order to remove software from a client's machines?

Asked on 3/07/09, 1:54 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: Court order to remove software

By filing a lawsuit and then seeking a restraining order with proof you have the right to do so. Feel free to contact me if serious about getting legal help, you'll need it.

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Answered on 3/08/09, 6:02 pm
Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Re: Court order to remove software

It can be done, you could apply to the court for a writ of replevin (i.e. an order to turn over personal property). The attorney who drafted your contracts should have anticipated and provided for this situation in advance?

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Answered on 3/07/09, 2:50 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Court order to remove software

Most software that is designed to go to clients on renewable licenses has some "time bomb" built in that renders it less useful - or useless - after the expiration of the license. Sometimes the software vendor cuts off support, sometimes it won't import date from the Internet any more, etc.

If your product doesn't freeze up if the license isn't renewed, you'll need to have a lawyer review the license agreement (or other contract with the client) to see what remedies may be available for failure to return it, delete it, renew, etc.

I am doubtful that asking for a writ of replevin or for claim and delivery will succeed; there are old cases holding that these pleas are invalid for intangible property. See Ashton v. Heydenfeldt (1899) 124 Cal. 14, and Bell v. Bank of California (1908) 153 Cal. 234 for cases holding that replevin and claim and delivery, respectively, were inappropriate causes of action for recovery of intangibles (shares of corporate stock).

The law may be changing in this regard, but even 101 years after the Bell decision I think it would be batter to sue for money damages for breach of the license, or for unjust enrichment and restitution, and maybe ask for an injunction at the same time.

You didn't provide a lot of details, but essentially a well-framed suit based upon some breach of the license agreement or other contract remedy looks like the ticket here.

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Answered on 3/07/09, 6:01 pm
Charles Williamson Charles J. Williamson, Attorney At Law

Re: Court order to remove software

Probably - unless you want to get arrested and/or sued for tresspass, should you try to enter upon your client's property and remove the software yourself. I agree with one of the other responders here - whoever drafted your software licensing agreement for you should have anticipated this possibility and provided for it in your licensing contract.

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Answered on 3/07/09, 10:57 pm

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