RBS settles trade finance software copyright lawsuit

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has settled a copyright lawsuit, allowing it continue the use of critical software in its trade finance business.


Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has reached a settlement allowing it to continue the use of critical trade finance software after receiving a US court ban.

The bank was ordered to cease use of Complex Systems’ Bank Trade system in May, following a six-year court battle with the vendor over licence fees.

The settlement means RBS can continue using the product for trade finance transactions across its business. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Our clients remain our primary focus, and this settlement assures them of our continued commitment to our trade finance business," said a statement from RBS, seen by Reuters.

New York District Judge Katherine Forrest had previously ruled that RBS must stop using the software for new trade finance transactions within 60 days, before phasing it out by the end of 2014.

The BankTrade system is considered to be core to the functioning of RBS’ trade finance unit, which generated £295 million for the firm last year. Banning its use would have caused significant disruption to the business.

Forrest had said the bank had committed “six years of uninterrupted infringement”, and should not be allowed to continue using the software purely because of the disruption to its business.

The disagreement stems from RBS’ acquisition of ABN Amro, which had previously used the software for processing loans and credit services legitimately.

When ABN attempted to resist the takeover by RBS, it sold off its US subsidiary LaSalle, which owned a licence for use of the BankTrade software. After completing the buyout of ABN, RBS did not transfer the licence, but continued to use it.

ABN was bought by RBS as part of an acquisition by a consortium of banks, including Santander and Fortis. It resulted in complex technology integration challenges for RBS, which took over its wholesale banking operations and other parts of the business.

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