The latest document posted at the USPTO site looks strange: entire sentences are blacked out by Autodesk's lawyers, because they might contain Open Design Alliance's confidential trade secrets. See ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=92047002&pty=CAN&eno=29 [PDF file].
Getting past the blackouts, here are Autodesk's newest arguments as presented by this document:
- that they have a right to OpenDWG, because they now own RasterDWG.
- that the ODA committed fraud in obtaining the OpenDWG registration.
(History: after waiting more than two decades, Autodesk wants to register DWG as a trademark in several countries. The USPTO [patent and trademark office] and the equivalent in the European Union have so far denied Autodesk's request. Here in Canada, common law would probably prohibit such an action after the decades-long delay.)
Until a few months ago, "RasterDWG" belonged to softelect, a raster-to-vector developer. The Germany company is an Autodesk Authorized Developer and member of the ODA. I asked softelec why Autodesk now owns their trademark, but was told the agreement is secret -- except for the part where softelect gets to keep using the trademark for one of its products.
This new USPTO document provides the reason why Autodesk convinced softelect to give up the registration.
In the case of the fraud accusation, Autodesk's first argument takes this route:
In its registration with the USPTO, the ODA claimed first use of the OpenDWG trademark in February, 1998. "However, [ODA president] Mr. Van Der Weide testified that XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXX..." etc. This is one of the areas that is blacked out. But in the text following, Autodesk states that "ODA had not been using the OPENDWG mark since February 1998."
Thus, Autodesk opines, the ODA obtained the OpenDWG mark fraudulently. But, Autodesk's claim appears faulty in this case. upFront.eZine #95 carried this headline as its lead item on 17 Feb 1998:
Visio Forms OpenDWG Alliance
A week earlier that month in 1998, Visio had formed the ODA as an independent entity, and provided it with the Marcomp DWG libraries. The e-newsletter also carries Autodesk's reaction, none of which is concerned with the ODA's use of "OpenDWG."
The USPTO does not register file extensions as trademarks, and I had wondered why. Evan Yares provides a reason: the contents of filename.dwg files are created by users, not Autodesk. Or, put another way, if there were no users, there would be no .dwg files.