Roman Cisar, who was found guilty of stealing a secret software code from the Kitchener company where he worked, has been sentenced to 30 months behind bars.

The 50-year-old was convicted of the intellectual property theft in February, and prosecutors also alleged that Cisar used the code to establish a new business in the Czech Republic.

The actual crime dates back to 1996 when the code, estimated to be worth over $15 million, was stolen from Kitchener's Spicer Corporation.

Prosecutor Neil Dietrich says "Sixteen years for the victims, five years in the court process, it's a long and slow process but justice caught up to Mr. Cisar today."

Cisar says he objects to the decision and called the sentence too harsh and not appropriate.

He has always maintained he had an agreement with the late Steven Spicer, the company's founder, to use the code.

In 2008, Waterloo's OpenText Corp. purchased the Spicer Corporation, and is pursuing civil action against Cisar.

The victims in the case say they are satisfied with the outcome, and the Crown says it makes it clear this type of crime is serious.

Angus Cunningham, the CEO of Printeron Corp. who used to work at Spicer, says "It was demoralizing internally in the company to see that, here's our assets being used to compete against us in the marketplace."

The investigation was intensive and included an eight-year delay the judge termed unacceptable.

"I think what we've seen here is kind of welcome to the 21st century of crime. Mr. Cisar stole a copy of a secret recipe," Dietrich says.

People watching the case say the sentence sends a message to those working in the tech sector.

Dietrich says "I think this speaks to the tech sector here in the region and to the would-be Roman Cisars out there that this is something that we can't stand for in the community and I think the denunciation and deterrents were a factored into that today."

Cunningham adds "I was happy to see that the sentence is serious enough that the court is recognizing the importance of the IP community, the tech community here, it wasn't a slap on the wrist."

In his sentencing, Justice Colin Westman said Cisar's actions were opportunistic, not sophisticated.

He also cautioned Cisar to be smart, leave the court and do what you have to do, saying "That's it, Mr. Cisar."

An appeal is expected in the case.