Court halts Ga. license plans

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A Georgia Superior Court judge has temporarily blocked a plan to install a new driver's license system in the state.

Digimarc Corp., which is suing the Georgia Motor Vehicle Services Department, asked for the injunction. The decision from a judge in Fulton County came almost a year after the department announced a six-year contract with Viisage Technology Inc. to produce digital driver's licenses.

Viisage would have replaced Digimarc as the maker of Georgia's driver's licenses. The state had planned to move from issuing licenses over-the-counter to mailing them from a central production facility by this month. The state also wants to incorporate some biometric feature, such as fingerprint identifiers.

The program has been halted until Digimarc's case is tried or settled, although Viisage's contract with the department is still in place, Viisage's Chief Executive Officer Bernard Bailey said. "The unfortunate victims in this program delay are the citizens and taxpayers of Georgia," he said in a statement.

Department officials would not comment on the court's decision.

Viisage and Digimarc submitted bids last fall in response to Georgia officials' request for proposals for digital licenses. Shortly after Georgia announced last November that Viisage had been chosen, Digimarc, the current license vendor for the Georgia motor vehicles department, filed a protest, then sued in Superior Court in March. Digimarc claims the state had violated its procurement procedures.

Digimarc officials said they are happy with the court's ruling. The company has been Georgia's license vendor since 1996 under a series of contracts, said Roger French, vice president and general counsel at Digimarc ID Systems. The company makes 2.5 million driver's licenses and identification cards a year for Georgia residents, French said.

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