Tempus Software, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based vendor of healthcare information systems for patient scheduling, last week charged competitor McKesson HBOC with copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets.
Tempus said it had proof that its system, called Encompass, had been installed without authorization on an internal computer network at McKesson's information systems division.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where McKesson is based, Tempus accused the company of trying to incorporate parts of an unlicensed copy of the Encompass system into a scheduling system McKesson was developing.
A McKesson spokesman did not return calls for comment.
The existence of the McKesson-controlled copy came to light in late May. That's when a Y2K compliance officer at McKesson mailed Tempus a standard letter asking about the readiness of the Encompass software to handle dates past 1999, said Matt Lang, a Tempus spokesman.
Businesses use compliance officers to identify computer products with date functions and the potential for Y2K-related glitches. That job requires sending letters to the suppliers of products on hand.
But McKesson's letter to Tempus triggered a rifle response demanding to know if the Tempus software was in the hands of rival developers. A McKesson systems analyst Tempus contacted confirmed it was and said the copy would be removed, Lang said.
In the lawsuit, Tempus demands that McKesson be barred from continuing to market Tempus' scheduling product, called Pathways Healthcare Scheduling, and to hand over all profits obtained from alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.
The suit also demands that all copies of the Pathways system be impounded and destroyed. The system was installed for 100 customers between January 1995 and May 1999.
Tempus had a four-year head start on McKesson's information systems division, formerly HBO & Co., and now has 70 customers with a total of 170 installation sites. But installations slowed to six customers with eight sites in 1998 and four customers with 11 sites thus far in 1999.
In 1995, the year Pathways was getting off the ground, Tempus installed Encompass at 30 sites for 16 customers, according to its records. In 1996, the company completed installations at 20 sites for 15 customers.