Another Way To Look At It

I am a regular reader of upFront.eZine from Ralph Grabowski. He made some interesting comments regarding the Autodesk-ODA law suit in his latest issue. He seems to suggest that the tide may be changing in favor of the ODA. As usual I have my own weird views on this and that’s precisely what this blog is for.

I have always maintained that the ODA received lousy legal advise to begin with. I am surprised that they accepted it and went ahead and infringed the Autodesk trademark. The ODA has now realized that a lawyer who tells them that it is ok to reverse engineer the TrustedDWG technology and then comes up with stupid arguments when hauled up in court is not someone to go along with. They have been forced to bring heavy weights to fight for them.

As I see it, the ODA’s new legal team now believes that attack is the best form of defense, which is a normal strategy for someone who find himself in a position of weakness. That’s why they are now counter-suing Autodesk for a laundry list of issues, something which I feel they should have done earlier instead of infringing the trademark in the first place.

  • VC

    To correct your assertion that ODA has infringed a trademark – that is exactly the question in this case. So, as it stands, it has only been alleged that ODA has infringed a trademark.

    Autodesk’s claims for infringement lay on creative, but tenuous legal grounds. The basis of its claim requires that the court make substantial leaps in reasoning which are not particularly justified under trademark law.

    Autodesk does not (and has not) had a trademark on “DWG.” The alleged infringement is the cause of the trademark holder – Autodesk. In particular, at no point does ODA display or represent anything.

    In addition, readers should ask the question, why didn’t Autodesk bring a claim under copyright law for the DWG file format? The answer is that they can’t. There is law on the books that provides a file format (e.g. an interface) cannot be copyrighted. DWG may be produced by Autodesk, but keep in mind that this is an interface for its product. It may be proprietary in that it is controlled by Autodesk, but this does not imply that it is protectable by IP laws.

    I could continue on with other arguments against Autodesk’s claim, but that’s not necessary. This should not be a pro- or anti-Autodesk argument. The filing a complaint is the making of an allegation. To say that ODA is an “infringer” is not correct. At this point, it is correct to say that “Autodesk has alleged ODA infringes its trademark.” That’s all.

    I am not an attorney for ODA or Autodesk, but I am an IP attorney. These areas of the law are highly nuanced. Before rushing to judgment on advice given by an attorney for one side or the other, I would consider that there is a lot that may not be obvious to non-attorneys at first glance.

  • VC

    To correct your assertion that ODA has infringed a trademark – that is exactly the question in this case. So, as it stands, it has only been alleged that ODA has infringed a trademark.Autodesk’s claims for infringement lay on creative, but tenuous legal grounds. The basis of its claim requires that the court make substantial leaps in reasoning which are not particularly justified under trademark law.Autodesk does not (and has not) had a trademark on “DWG.” The alleged infringement is the cause of the trademark holder – Autodesk. In particular, at no point does ODA display or represent anything.In addition, readers should ask the question, why didn’t Autodesk bring a claim under copyright law for the DWG file format? The answer is that they can’t. There is law on the books that provides a file format (e.g. an interface) cannot be copyrighted. DWG may be produced by Autodesk, but keep in mind that this is an interface for its product. It may be proprietary in that it is controlled by Autodesk, but this does not imply that it is protectable by IP laws.I could continue on with other arguments against Autodesk’s claim, but that’s not necessary. This should not be a pro- or anti-Autodesk argument. The filing a complaint is the making of an allegation. To say that ODA is an “infringer” is not correct. At this point, it is correct to say that “Autodesk has alleged ODA infringes its trademark.” That’s all.I am not an attorney for ODA or Autodesk, but I am an IP attorney. These areas of the law are highly nuanced. Before rushing to judgment on advice given by an attorney for one side or the other, I would consider that there is a lot that may not be obvious to non-attorneys at first glance.

  • Deelip Menezes

    I agree that the trademark law is highly complicated, which is why a non-attorney like me will look at things in a simplified manner. If I was in the ODA’s shoes I would ask myself this question: “By reverse engineering the Trusted DWG technology will end users be led to believe that my DWG file has come from an Autodesk application”. Surely the answer to that is an emphatic “yes”. Common sense tells me that the trademark law is there for this exact reason.

    I have a company called SYCODE and I have trademarked the word SYCODE. If any person does anything similar to what the ODA did, you can be sure that I will sue his sorry ass till kingdom come.

    My point is that a law suit was inevitable. Instead of infringing the trademark (or as you would like me to say “allegedly infringing”) wouldn’t it have been better to sue Autodesk for false advertising and all the things that they are suing them for now.

    Thats my basis for describing the legal advice as lousy.

  • Deelip Menezes

    I agree that the trademark law is highly complicated, which is why a non-attorney like me will look at things in a simplified manner. If I was in the ODA’s shoes I would ask myself this question: “By reverse engineering the Trusted DWG technology will end users be led to believe that my DWG file has come from an Autodesk application”. Surely the answer to that is an emphatic “yes”. Common sense tells me that the trademark law is there for this exact reason.I have a company called SYCODE and I have trademarked the word SYCODE. If any person does anything similar to what the ODA did, you can be sure that I will sue his sorry ass till kingdom come.My point is that a law suit was inevitable. Instead of infringing the trademark (or as you would like me to say “allegedly infringing”) wouldn’t it have been better to sue Autodesk for false advertising and all the things that they are suing them for now.Thats my basis for describing the legal advice as lousy.

  • Legally AutoCADed

    Deelip, do you have a vested interest in AutoDesk products because of training or coding skills? I have two legal licences for AutoCAD and cannot sell them because AutoDesk changed the rules since I bought them in about 1986. I doubt if I will take out another subscription (read as “compulsory upgrade”). I now use ArchiCAD instead, and wish AutoDesk would listen to what its customers want (as ODA does) instead of forcing them to take badly or untested code purporting to be better than before. All I want is a program that lets me draw quickly and share it with other disciplines without multiple and complicated steps (DXF or DWF). AutoDesk behaves like a monopoly, but complains like a little child.

  • Legally AutoCADed

    Deelip, do you have a vested interest in AutoDesk products because of training or coding skills? I have two legal licences for AutoCAD and cannot sell them because AutoDesk changed the rules since I bought them in about 1986. I doubt if I will take out another subscription (read as “compulsory upgrade”). I now use ArchiCAD instead, and wish AutoDesk would listen to what its customers want (as ODA does) instead of forcing them to take badly or untested code purporting to be better than before. All I want is a program that lets me draw quickly and share it with other disciplines without multiple and complicated steps (DXF or DWF). AutoDesk behaves like a monopoly, but complains like a little child.

  • Deelip Menezes

    legally autocadded, please read my post “For The Record”

  • Deelip Menezes

    legally autocadded, please read my post “For The Record”