Minnesota Federal Intoxilyzer Law Suit: Is AG Attempting to Lose?

Posted On April 15, 2009 by Charles Ramsay

In March, 2008 the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety sued CMI, the manufacturer of the state's breath test machines. At the time the Commissioner claimed it was the owner of the source code (software) that operates the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test machine. Specifically, the Minnesota Attorney General claimed in the suit,

In its contract with the State, Defendant CMI conveyed to the State ownership of any and all copyrightable material and documents created in the course of its performance of the contact. These materials include the source code to the Minnesota model of the Intoxilyzer 5000.

Complaint, para. 51.

In its request for its relief, it asked the federal court for an order, "Declaring that pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Act, the State of Minnesota is the sole owner of any and all copyrights to the source code for the Minnesota model of the Intoxilyzer 5000. Prayer for Relief, I.


Yesterday, the Office of the Attorney General retreated from its claim that the state is the sole owner of the source code. In a letter sent by email to CMI lawyers, the AG claimed to own only a limited portion of the software.

As a result of our conversation yesterday, the State wishes to clarify its position regarding ownership of the source code. The State does not allege that it owns the entire source code for the Intoxilyzer 5000EN instruments sold to the State. In this lawsuit, the State is seeking, inter alia, a declaration that the State owns the portion of the source code created for the State.

Letter from Assistant Minnesota Attorney General to CMI's Local Counsel.

Why the retreat?

It is obvious from the state's conduct we cannot trust the AG to fight for citizen's rights. Last fall the state and CMI attempted to bury the source code in a |settlement.| Fortunately, Federal Judge Frank noted the AG |cannot adequately represent| the interests of Minnesotans, and permitted me to intervene in the lawsuit. I objected to the settlement whichJudge Frank ultimately rejected in February.

Is the Minnesota AG intentionally attempting to lose the federal source code case?