Smartmatic: We own PCOS rights
MANILA, Philippines—Smartmatic International has maintained that it has exclusive rights over the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which gives it sole authority to refurbish the equipment for the 2016 presidential balloting.
Cesar Flores, the Venezuelan firm’s president for Asia, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should award the contract to repair and upgrade 80,000 PCOS machines to Smartmatic as it owned the rights to its parts.
“If you open this to other bidders, the other bidders will try to [get into the] parts, which they cannot [do so] because we have exclusivity on those parts,” Flores told reporters in a recent interview.
He added that the Comelec would benefit a lot if it would forgo its plan to bid out the project and award it instead to Smartmatic as the former wouldn’t have to seek a recertification if new software were needed for some of its parts.
“If you change the printer, for example, you have to change the source code of the PCOS machines [and] they will have to provide a new software, which has to be recertified, which will take six months,” said Flores.
The PCOS machines were first used in the Philippines in the 2010 presidential elections, vastly speeding up the counting of votes.
The same machines were used in the midterm elections in 2013, but glitches marred their use, delaying the proclamation of a number of candidates, raising questions about their accuracy and reliability.
The PCOS machines, which the Comelec purchased from Smartmatic for P1.2 billion, are stored in a warehouse in Laguna.
Flores said the resolution of a legal dispute between Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems in the United States paved the way for a new licensing agreement that would allow Smartmatic “unlimited and perpetual” access to the latter’s technology.
During last year’s elections, Dominion, the PCOS technology owner that licensed it to Smartmatic, initially refused to release the source code due to a legal case lodged against the Venezuelan firm in 2012.
Dominion gave the Comelec permission to open the source code for public review, as required by law, only a few days before Election Day.
“Dominion and Smartmatic have settled their litigation in Delaware and we have a new licensing agreement that will provide Smartmatic with unlimited and perpetual access to their technology,” said Flores.
He said Smartmatic had already notified the Comelec about the settlement of the legal case with Dominion.
Earlier, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. announced that the commission’s law department had issued a legal opinion saying that the poll body could exercise extended warranty if Smartmatic could not prove exclusivity over the parts and services needed to repair the PCOS machines.
If Smartmatic cannot prove exclusivity, the Comelec will have no choice but to hold a public bidding for the contract, Brillantes said.
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