ABN Amro Can’t Use Trade Finance Software Lacking License

A Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc unit must stop using trade finance software the bank claims is critical to its business after a judge ruled the rights to it were sold seven years ago.

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest in New York yesterday ordered the RBS unit, ABN Amro Bank NV, which isn’t affiliated with the Dutch bank of the same name, to stop using the BankTrade platform owned by Complex Systems Inc. within a year. ABN Amro can’t use it to process any new trade finance transactions after 60 days, she said.

The Complex Systems software allows financial institutions to process and facilitate transactions, including letters of credit, loans, guarantees and fund transfers, according to the initial complaint filed in 2008.

Complex Systems said it licensed the use of BankTrade to ABN Amro Information Technology Services Co. in October 1997, allowing the lender to use it because of its corporate affiliation with the license-holder.

The bank lost the right to use the software 10 years later when it sold Information Technology Services and its LaSalle Bank unit to Bank of America Corp. for $21 billion, according to Forrest’s ruling. ABN Amro continued to use the software even after the suit was filed, the judge said.

“ABN argues that it has tried to negotiate a license but CSI has been commercially unreasonable and that this court should therefore allow ABN to use BankTrade perpetually in exchange for a court-imposed license,” Forrest said. “The court declines to accept these propositions.”

ABN Amro will appeal the ruling, attorney Michael E. Swartz said in a letter to the judge, in which he asked her to delay its implementation. Jeffrey Kaplan, a lawyer for Complex Systems, opposed that request in a letter telling Forrest her ruling already includes a delay.

RBS fell 1.8 percent to 325.2 pence in London trading yesterday.

The case is Complex Systems Inc. v. ABN Amro Bank NV, 08-cv-07497, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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