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Gary Reback, the former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner who gained national prominence for his 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 Calabasas, Calif.-based Bulletproof Technologies Inc. in a new battle over the application of copyright law to computer software. Reback said 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. Lotus had sued Reback’s client Borland 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,” Reback said. “I thought I had solved this problem, and it turns out I hadn’t completely.” At issue in both Lotus and the Bulletproof case, Reback said, 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 sued EasyJet for copyright infringement in the U.K. 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 filed a motion in Salt Lake City federal court Tuesday 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. Minneapolis-based Navitaire did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. 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 perhaps 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, Calif., corporate boutique. The litigator left Wilson Sonsini in 2000 for his own Internet startup. He has since turned over the company to a new management team. When Reback took on the previous project, which remains secret, he approached Barry Carr and asked if he could have an office at Carr & Ferrell and access to the firm’s law library. Carr, who worked with Reback when the two were at Fenwick & West, readily agreed. Then when the Bulletproof case came along, Reback said he needed to officially associate with a law firm and asked Carr & Ferrell if he could become of counsel. “For a while I felt I’d get hives if I walked into a law office,” Reback said. Now, he said, “I’ll continue to do things that are interesting.”

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