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On June 27, 2018, in Appeal of CiyaSoft Corporation, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals held that the Government can be bound by terms of a commercial software license agreement that the contracting officer (CO) has neither negotiated nor seen.  CiyaSoft Corporation (CiyaSoft) submitted a claim asserting that the Army had breached its contract to purchase computer software by using more copies of the software than were permitted by the contract.  The Army denied the claim, in part, because the contract contained no terms specifying how the government would secure and protect the software.  Instead, CiyaSoft had included license terms limiting the software’s use (i) inside the box containing the CDs with the software, (ii) on a piece of paper inside the software’s shrinkwrap, and (iii) in clickwrap that was displayed during the software’s installation process.  On appeal, the Board found that although the contract included no license terms and the CO never saw or discussed with CiyaSoft the license terms that accompanied the software delivery, the CO had a duty to inquire about what use rights applied to the software and the failure to do so imputed knowledge of the licensing terms on the Army.  Pointing to the longstanding policy embodied in the FAR that that the government should accept commercial computer license terms that are customarily provided to other purchasers, the Board held that “the government can be bound by the terms of a commercial software license it has neither negotiated nor seen prior to the receipt of the software, so long as the terms are consistent with those customarily provided by the vendor to other purchasers and do not otherwise violate federal law.”

After finding that the Army could be subject to CiyaSoft’s license terms, the Board then assessed whether the software met the definition of “commercial computer software” under FAR 2.101 given that the software had not been sold to the individual members of the general public customarily and that it had been modified prior to its delivery to the Army.  The Board found that the software was “commercial” largely because it was developed without Government funds, had been sold to at least one non-governmental entity, it had been considered a “commercial item” by the CO, and modifications to the software prior to delivery to the Army did not affect the software’s core purpose.

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Photo of John E. McCarthy Jr. John E. McCarthy Jr.

John E. McCarthy, Jr. is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring and member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group. John has spent more than thirty years litigating all forms of government contracts cases for both large and small…

John E. McCarthy, Jr. is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring and member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group. John has spent more than thirty years litigating all forms of government contracts cases for both large and small government contractors, with a particular emphasis on bid protests. Because of John’s strong engineering background, he has particular experience in technology related issues, including litigation regarding complex technology and data rights, patent and other intellectual property issues.

Photo of Jonathan M. Baker Jonathan M. Baker

Jonathan M. Baker is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. He practices in the Government Contracts Group.

Jon advises clients on a wide array of government contracts legal issues, including both federal and state bid protests, prime-sub disputes, government contracts…

Jonathan M. Baker is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. He practices in the Government Contracts Group.

Jon advises clients on a wide array of government contracts legal issues, including both federal and state bid protests, prime-sub disputes, government contracts due diligence and transactions, regulatory compliance, and contract terminations. Jon’s practice has a notable emphasis on technology-related issues, including counseling clients in the areas of patent and data rights, responding to government challenges to technical data and computer software rights assertions, and litigating cases involving complex and cutting edge technologies. Jon also provides guidance on national security matters, such as National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual compliance and facility and security clearance matters. In addition, Jon has advised clients on local government contract negotiation, internal and government investigations regarding potential False Claims Act issues, and export violations. Jon is also actively involved in the firm’s pro bono program, having litigated prisoner neglect, parental rights termination, and landlord-tenant matters.

Photo of Skye Mathieson Skye Mathieson

Skye Mathieson is a counsel in the Government Contracts Group in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. He works with and advises clients from diverse industries on a wide array of matters, including contract performance disputes (CDA claims and equitable adjustments), cost allowability…

Skye Mathieson is a counsel in the Government Contracts Group in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. He works with and advises clients from diverse industries on a wide array of matters, including contract performance disputes (CDA claims and equitable adjustments), cost allowability issues, defective pricing, fiscal law questions, prime-sub disputes, bid protests, internal investigations, and responding to DCAA audits. Prior to joining Crowell & Moring, Skye spent several years as a trial attorney at the procurement litigation division of the Air Force Headquarters for Legal Operations, where he pioneered the seminal “Laguna Defense” that is now widely raised and litigated at the Boards of Contract Appeals.

Photo of M.Yuan Zhou M.Yuan Zhou

M. Yuan Zhou is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where she is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

Yuan’s practice includes a wide range of investigatory, counseling, and transactional capabilities, including: internal investigations related to…

M. Yuan Zhou is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where she is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

Yuan’s practice includes a wide range of investigatory, counseling, and transactional capabilities, including: internal investigations related to the False Claims Act, the Procurement Integrity Act, and other civil and criminal matters; compliance reviews and enhancing contractor compliance programs; representing clients in suspension and debarment proceedings; counseling on data rights issues, challenges, and disputes; mandatory disclosures; and providing government contracts due diligence in transactional matters. As part of the firm’s State and Local Practice, Yuan also counsels clients on state and local procurement issues, ranging from bid protests to contract negotiations with state agencies, and advises prime contractors and subcontractors on a variety of issues including prime/sub contract formation, disputes, and other government contracts issues.

Photo of Christopher D. Garcia Christopher D. Garcia

Christopher Garcia is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where he is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

As part of his government contracts practice, Chris conducts internal investigations regarding False Claims Act issues and defends…

Christopher Garcia is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where he is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

As part of his government contracts practice, Chris conducts internal investigations regarding False Claims Act issues and defends against related government inquiries and investigative demands. Chris also assists clients with technology-related issues, including counseling clients in the areas of patents and data rights, and defending against government challenges to technical data and computer software rights assertions. In addition, Chris performs government contracts due diligence for buyers in transactional matters, representing government contractors in a range of industries. As part of the firm’s State and Local Practice, Chris also counsels clients on state and local procurement issues, including reviewing state and local opportunities, and leading negotiations with government customers regarding contractual terms and conditions. Chris also advises contractors on the federal Freedom of Information Act as well as state-level public records laws. He has counseled contractors in numerous reverse-FOIA actions at the federal and state levels.

Photo of Nicole Owren-Wiest Nicole Owren-Wiest

Nicole Owren-Wiest is a partner and member of the Steering Committee of Crowell & Moring’s Government Contracts Group in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Nicole is nationally ranked by Chambers USA in Government Contracts and a recognized leader in two of the most…

Nicole Owren-Wiest is a partner and member of the Steering Committee of Crowell & Moring’s Government Contracts Group in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Nicole is nationally ranked by Chambers USA in Government Contracts and a recognized leader in two of the most complex areas in government contracting: accounting, cost, and pricing, and intellectual property/data rights. With over 20 years’ experience, Nicole has a broad counseling and dispute-resolution practice and leads the Group’s cost accounting practice, which focuses on helping clients navigate the government’s complex cost and pricing rules, including the FAR Part 31 cost principles, the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), and Truth in Negotiations Act/Truthful Cost or Pricing Data (defective pricing).