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Tussle Over High-Tech Corporate Espionage

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - A satellite TV software developer claims in court that a competitor used high-tech skullduggery to steal its products and customers and commit "digital crime."

Pixsys Technologies sued Agemni LLC in Federal Court, claiming Agemni used a customer's log-in credentials to access its software hundreds of times in the past year.

Pixsys claims in the lawsuit to be a leading developer of installation and repair software for DISH satellite systems.

The complaint involves a software suite called Dish Operations, which handles "work order management, inventory, payables and receivables, employee recruitment and retention, basic human resources, and business and employee performance and productivity."

Pixsys claims the configuration of its software is a closely guarded secret, and that access is available only through valid username and password credentials, which are given to licensed customers.

But Pixsys claims one of its licensed customers, Southern Star Inc. vice president of administration Randy Reed, "for reasons unknown to Pixsys," allowed Agemni access to its software for an extended period of time this year, but using his password credentials.

Neither Reed nor Southern Star are parties to the lawsuit.

"This access by Agemni (emanating from one or more Agemni IP addresses) has amounted to hundreds of page views to private areas of Pixsys' software, not viewable by the public or anyone lacking valid credentials," the complaint states. "These logins have also focused heavily on Dish Operations features which Agemni's software product does not offer. This access has been done without the knowledge or consent of Pixsys ... [and] such access has made available to Agemni details, process flows, business know-how, configurations and combinations of features and functions of Dish Operations."

Agemni's unauthorized access to the Dish Operations software became apparent in early October, when its CFO sent an e-mail to a different Pixsys customer, claiming: "'I don't know if you had heard but the largest RSP Southern Star is switching from Pixsys to AgemniST at the end of this year. We have been working with them for several months confidentially (so I couldn't tell you this earlier) on making tons of enhancements that I know our clients will love,'" according to the complaint, which quotes an email dated 4:41:22 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Oct. 11.

Pixsys claims: "Agemni would not have been able to make the 'tons of enhancements' in its software, within the time frame in which it has apparently has, had it not unlawfully and impermissibly taken and used proprietary, confidential and trade secret information belonging to Pixsys."

Pixsys seeks compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Alabama Trade Secrets Act, the Alabama Digital Crime Act, tortious interference and conversion.

It is represented by John Goodman with Bradley, Arant, Boult and Cummings.

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