30 Integrity A LAWSUIT AND A QUESTION: WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING? Ken Sugden, then General Manager of Flathead Electric Cooperative, still remembers when the registered letter arrived like a stray bullet, a shocking and potentially destructive missive. Sent from a Chicago law firm to Flathead in Kalispell, Montana, in October 2005, the letter claimed patent infringement related to electronic billing. EmergisTechnologies,aCanadianfirm,wantedafeeofupwardof$250,000 annually for a license to allow Flathead customers to pay their utility bills online. It claimed a patent on “electronic invoice presentment and payment” — or the process used to transmit payments electronically. NISC had developed and provided the e-billing software, but the user — Flathead Electric — was the one on the hook for any patent infringement. NISC’s contract made the situation even clearer: A disclaimer protected the company from any potential liability associated with the software. SHARED VALUES A green cursor blinks — glowing, rhythmic, impatient. Hold down Ctrl-Alt and a function button to switch screens. Tab, tab. Type in a customer payment. Hit Enter. And repeat. The Sycor 350 terminal looks like a boxy, oversized personal computer. In 1977, it represented an advance in computing, but like other terminals of its time, it offered very limited functions. In 1983, the year Apple released the Lisa computer and Microsoft launched its Word software, CADP took its own leap forward with the new Cooperative Attached Processing System (CAPS). When Eastern Illinois Power Cooperative (EIPC) in Paxton became the first beta site, CEO and General Manager Dave Fricke knew there would be some bumpy patches, but he was eager to gain in-house capability. For the first time, with data housed on minicomputers, the Left: Marty Nester (standing) of CADP provides assistance to Eastern Illinois Power Cooperative (EIPC) staff on the first implementation of the CAPS system. Right: Dave Fricke oversees the conversion to CAPS at Eastern Illinois Power Cooperative (now Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative). General Manager of EIPC and a Board member of CADP, he later worked for NISC and retired in 2013 as Manager of Engineering and Operations.