Californian internet filtering software company Cybersitter has mounted a $2.2 million (€1.53m) damages claim against the Chinese government, two Chinese software makers and seven PC makers that distributed the Green Dam filtering software.
The family-owned company formerly known as Solid Oak Software filed the suit in the Los Angeles federal court claiming damages for copyright infringement, theft of trade secrets, unfair competition and civil conspiracy. The company alleges that the defendants distributed over 56 million copies of the Green Dam software, which they claim misappropriated their filtering software.
The company has already had success with a previous Green Dam lawsuit filed in October. Cybersitter sued CBS Interactive's ZDNet China for distributing Green Dam. resulting in CBS Interactive settling in December, under confidential terms.
"This lawsuit aims to strike a blow against the all-too-common practices of foreign software manufacturers and distributors that believe that they can violate the intellectual property rights of small American companies with impunity without being brought to justice in US courts," said attorney Greg Fayer in a statement.
Cybersitter’s boldest claims allege that its own systems were the subject of thousands of electronic takeover attempts from within the Chinese Ministry of Health and elsewhere in the country. Other alleged hacking attempts include Cybersitter employees receiving individually tailored emails that appeared to be from colleagues. “These emails were designed to retrieve information stored on Solid Oak’s computers and send it back to their source,” according to the suit.
The seven computer manufacturers include Sony, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, ASUSTeK, BenQ and Haier.
The controversial Green Dam project incited international uproar when the Chinese government announced that every PC sold in the country would have to include the anti-pornography software.
Researchers discovered that the Green Dam software not only blocked porn sites but also blocked thousands of websites with content relating to political and religious subjects.
Analysis from the University of Michigan has also revealed that Green Dam also contained significant lines of code identical to that in the CyberSitter program, which has been in use for 14 years by the company.
The Chinese government capitulated on enforcing the mandatory software installation but many companies installed it anyway to take advantage of subsidized PCs.