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Gary Reback, the former attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati who gained national prominence for his antitrust fight against Microsoft Inc., is returning to the law to tackle a copyright question he thought he’d put to rest years ago. Reback is representing Bulletproof Technologies Inc., a company headquartered in Calabasas, California, in a new battle over the application of copyright law to computer software. Reback says the case addresses the same question raised in Lotus Development Corp. v. Borland International Inc., 513 U.S. 233, a seminal 1996 U.S. Supreme Court case that denied copyright protection for a computer program’s menu command system. Reback had represented Borland, which was sued by Lotus for infringing its spreadsheet program. The courts may use the new case to interpret how copyright restrictions in foreign countries may or may not apply in the United States. Bulletproof’s case “raised issues that I spent seven hard years of my life on,” says Reback. “I thought I had solved this problem, and it turns out I hadn’t completely.” At issue in both cases, says Reback, is the ability of companies to make products that are compatible with other systems. Bulletproof developed a computer reservation system for U.K.-based EasyJet Airline Co. Ltd. that uses some of the same commands employed in competitor Navitaire Inc.’s reservation system. Navitaire, based in Minneapolis, sued EasyJet for copyright infringement in the United Kingdom in May 2002 and subsequently demanded that Bulletproof stop licensing its system to any third party. In an effort to enable Bulletproof to sell its product in the United States, Reback recently filed a motion in federal court in Salt Lake City seeking a declaratory judgment that Bulletproof’s travel reservation system does not infringe Navitaire’s copyright and that Navitaire has no right to make copyright claims against anyone. “Bulletproof made its program accept the old commands in order to maintain compatibility with the older system,” the motion states. “While the new Bulletproof product and the obsolete Navitaire product performed many of the same functions (albeit in a different way) when invoked by similar commands, those functions were executed by wholly different code.” In Bulletproof Technologies Inc. v. Navitaire Inc., 03CV00428, Bulletproof claims that Navitaire’s actions have inflicted more than $1 million in damages on Bulletproof and that without a declaration from the court it will not be able to market its product in the United States. Bulletproof is the first high-profile case for Reback since he left his practice three years ago and only the second legal matter he’s handled in that time. He is best known for his efforts to get the Justice Department to investigate Microsoft for alleged antitrust violations. Reback is now of counsel at Carr & Ferrell, a Palo Alto corporate boutique. The litigator left Wilson Sonsini in 2000 to work on his own Internet-related startup. He has since turned over the company to a new management team. “For a while I felt I’d get hives if I walked into a law office,” says Reback. Now, he adds, “I’ll continue to do things that are interesting.”

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