Intellectual Property

Astrology Software Maker Files Infringement Suit over Time Zone Database Used in Computers

An astrology company has filed a copyright infringement suit against two computer experts who maintain time zone databases used to set local times on computers using UNIX operating systems.

Software maker Astrolabe says in its complaint (PDF), filed on Sept. 30 in federal court in Massachusetts, that it owns the “ACS Atlas” computer programs and databases of historical time zone information. The company sells the programs to people in business and astrology who need historical time information for specific locations.

One of the defendants is David Olson, a National Institutes of Health employee who maintained the Time Zone and Daylight Saving Time Database as a public service, the Register reports. He shut down the server after the suit was filed. “Also known as the Olson database, it’s the official reference Unix machines use to set clocks to local time and is used by countless websites and applications to reconcile time differences across the world,” the story says.

The database is also used to update computer clocks for events such as such as daylight savings time and leap seconds, ZDNet reports.

ITWorld and the Daily Parker blog also have the news.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. to include information from ZDNet.

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