Police Raid Moscow Office of U.S. Software Company after Copyright Dispute

The Moscow office of tech company Ngynx was raided by police on Thursday after the ownership of the popular web server’s source code was disputed, ZDNet reports.

Ngynx (pronounced “Engine-X”) was acquired earlier this year by U.S.-based F5 Networks.

NGINX cofounders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov were detained during the reported raid, which came a week after Rambler Group, the parent company behind Russian search engine giant Rambler, is said to have filed a copyright violation claim against NGINX, claiming full ownership of the company’s web server code.

In the cross-hairs of the source code copyright claim is Nginx creator Igor Sysoev, who was an employee of Rambler in the 2000s, and at the time wrote the code for what would become the open-source Nginx web server and proxy platform. He claims he wrote the software in his spare time, and thus it belongs to him, though Rambler appears to disagree and has claimed ownership of the blueprints.

Nginx was started in 2002, released in 2004, and launched as its own company in 2011 after Sysoev left Rambler. It was acquired by F5 for $670m in March this year, a deal that seemingly encouraged Rambler to file its ownership claim in Russia on the software. Nginx is the most widely used web server software in the world – Netcraft confirms it.

According to business news outlet The Bell, Rambler has confirmed the raid was related to its copyright claim, and the biz believes that, as Sysoev was on its payroll at the time, it owns the exclusive rights to the code.

“We believe that the rights to Nginx belong to the Rambler Internet Holding company, which is part of Rambler Group,” Rambler said. “Nginx is an official work, the development of which since the beginning of the 2000s in the framework of labor relations with Rambler was done by Igor Sysoev, therefore any use of this program without the consent of the Rambler Group is a violation of the exclusive right.”