Financial settlement / muzzle contract

After the threats by DMS-Apelem and the apparent involvement of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) through Oscar Camara and Ana Sagardoy, I wanted to to have a word with Dr Xavier Binefa Valls, who is the chair of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies at UPF. The letter on my claims sent to UPF by my lawyer was directed at him and I have included him in every email communication regarding this matter. He was therefore fully informed about the illegal activities of individuals within his department, but never took any action. He kindly agreed to a Skype chat.

The Skype call started well. He did not let me finish my first sentence and immediately said I should think about a financial settlement. Of course I was very happy with that, I just want this conflict to be over as much as anyone. Clearly he thought I needed convincing and continued with the common methods of intimidation that I have come to love and expect from members of UPF. Well, never mind that, as long as this gets settled. I reminded him of the offer from my lawyer to buy the license to my software for £50,000. He did not accept this and offered me a whopping 3000 Euro instead. But guess what. It never was about the money for me. As a researcher you work incredibly hard and long hours for very little reward. That’s not why we do this. All of us could have gotten a perfectly well payed jobs. The only thing we ask for return, is credit for our work, usually by having our name on a publication. If UPF would simply buy my software, they could do with it whatever they want and it would no longer be illegal. Besides that, I could take the credit for it that I deserve by officially having provided them with my software. So, I accepted the offer, although they would have to pay for my lawyers fees, which he agreed to do. The only thing that remained was for them to send me a contract that I would have to sign. Fine by me!

A while later I received the agreement which to my surprise included the following statement:

Mr. Whitmarsh acknowledges that the software named in the letter dated January 27, 2014 as “UPF / DMS Software” did not infringe the intellectual property rights of Mr. Whitmarsh

I did not and will never acknowledge that my software was not used. I then got into the nit and gritty of settlement negotiations. Basically they wanted to state that they compensate me for the “possible” unauthorized use of my illustrations, while maintaining claims of innocence about the IP theft of my software. This was not a university trying to correct the misconducts of its personnel, but one that was trying to hide their crimes and silence those exposing them. The document was to be signed by the rector of the UPF, Jaume Casals, so I assume he was made aware of this conflict and condoned the devious methods by UPF. I continued to make clear that UPF can either buy my software or perform an independent software comparison to prove they did not use it. They would not even have to confess to the use of my software in the contract. However, this was to no avail. Negotiations ended and legal action against UPF, Galgo Medical and DMS-Apelem remains an option.

I would like to end with a citation from the bio of Dr Xavier Binefa Valls found here:

His scientific compromise is helping to construct a Society where digital information helps people in their daily life. In this sense he participates in several projects: while some of them are related to civil mediation for resolution of conflicts through the analysis of facial expressions (developed together with lawyers);

This explains why he always wanted to have Skype chats. You’d think he would have been better at resolving this conflict, wouldn’t you?