Arvest Bank v. RSA Securities Inc. et al
Judge Indira Talwani: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING remainder of 89 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment.(DaSilva, Carolina)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
RSA SECURITY INC.,
RSA SECURITY LLC, and
Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-11798-IT
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
September 29, 2017
As stated in this court’s Order [#121], Plaintiff Arvest Bank (“Arvest”) purchased a
license to use Defendants RSA Security, Inc., RSA Security LLC, and EMC Corporation’s
(collectively, “RSA”) software as part of Arvest’s online banking business. That order addressed
Arvest’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#89] in part. Before the court is the remainder
of that motion, which argues that, as a matter of law, the Intellectual Property Indemnity
provision (“Indemnity Provision”) in the software license agreement executed by the parties1 was
triggered by litigation brought against Arvest by Secure Axcess. For the following reasons, the
remainder of Arvest’s Motion [#89] is DENIED.
The full text of the operative contract—captioned “Software License and Support Service
Agreement”— is appended as Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Samuel Brenner [#77], and will
hereinafter be referred to as the “Agreement.”
Arvest first seeks summary judgment as to contract interpretation. Under Massachusetts
law, “[i]f a contract . . . is unambiguous, its interpretation is a question of law that is appropriate
for a judge to decide on summary judgment.” Seaco Ins. Co. v. Barbosa, 761 N.E.2d 946, 951
(Mass. 2002). In such circumstances, the court interprets the agreement according to its plain
terms. Fairfield 274-278 Clarendon Trust v. Dwek, 970 F.2d 990, 993 (1st Cir. 1992). “Where,
however, the contract . . . has terms that are ambiguous, uncertain, or equivocal in meaning, the
intent of the parties is a question of fact to be determined at trial,” Seaco Ins. Co., 761 N.E.2d at
951, unless the evidence presented about the parties’ intended meaning is so “one-sided that no
reasonable person could decide to the contrary.” Allen v. Adage, Inc., 967 F.2d 695, 698 (1st Cir.
1992) (internal quotations omitted).
The contract language reads in pertinent part as follows:
RSA shall defend, indemnify, and hold [Arvest] . . . harmless from and against all
claims, actions, judgments, awards, expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees)
and awarded damages assessed against [Arvest] . . . that arise from a claim that the
current, unaltered release of the Licensed Software used in accordance with the terms
of this Agreement infringes a third party . . . patent.”
Notwithstanding the foregoing, RSA has no liability under this Section . . . if the
alleged infringement arises from (1) use of the Licensed Software in combination
with other equipment or software not provided or recommended in writing by RSA if
such claim would have been avoided but for such combined use.
Agreement ¶ 11(d)(1), (2) (emphasis added).
Arvest argues this language means that RSA agreed to defend against and indemnify
losses for any infringement claim against Arvest that arises from use of the Licensed Software.
Pl. Mem. [#19] 19. It argues that the phrase “used in accordance with the terms of this
Agreement” modifies the term “Licensed Software,” and the clause thus covers a third-party
claim that “arise[s] from the Licensed Software being ‘used’” Id. Arvest points in support of this
reading to language in the next paragraph, which forecloses liability “if the alleged infringement
arises from . . . use of the Licensed Software in combination with other equipment or software
not provided or recommended in writing by RSA if such claim would have been avoided but for
such combined use . . . .” Agreement ¶ 11(d)(2). In Arvest’s view, by excluding alleged
infringement arising from combined use with non-recommended products, the contract covers
infringement arising from combined use with recommended products—even, it appears, if the
claim is not at all directed at RSA’s contribution to that combined use.
RSA, in turn, argues that the subject of the infringement claim must be the “Licensed
Software,” and the phrase “used in accordance with the agreement” is a limitation, such that if
the licensee uses the Licensed Software contrary to the Agreement, no obligations would be
triggered. In RSA’s reading, RSA is obligated to defend and indemnify an infringement claim
directed at RSA’s “Licensed Software,” not a claim that “arises from” the “use” of the Licensed
The plain language of the contract is ambiguous. While Arvest contends that RSA’s
reading of the contract would require an additional term (that the Licensed Software itself
infringes), RSA’s reading is more than plausible, even without that term. And contrary to
Arvest’s construction and consistent with RSA’s reading, the contract could be understood to
cover claims against the Licensed Software alone, as well as claims arising from combined use
of the Licensed Software with other recommended products, so long as the claim is directed at
the Licensed Software at least in part. In sum, Arvest is not entitled to summary judgment based
on unambiguous contract language.
Nor is summary judgment warranted based on undisputed material facts as to the parties’
intent. Little extrinsic evidence has been provided to the court, and that provided, such as the
deposition testimony excerpted by Arvest, see, e.g., Pl.’s Statement of Fact [#91] ¶¶ 56-63, does
not lend itself to only a single interpretation.
The second part of Arvest’s Motion [#89] seeks judgment that the Secure Axcess
litigation triggered RSA’s indemnity and defense obligations under Arvest’s interpretation.
However, as the court declines to adopt as a matter of law the interpretation Arvest proposes, the
court need not reach whether that interpretation renders RSA in breach.
For the reasons foregoing, the remainder of Arvest’s Motion [#89] is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
September 29, 2017
/s/ Indira Talwani
United States District Judge
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