Autodesk files suit against DS SolidWorks over a whole wack of things:
- Unfair competition.
- False designation of origin.
- False advertising.
- Trademark infringement.
- Trade dress infringement.
- Unfair and unlawful business practices.
- Misleading advertising.
All these years DS SolidWorks has been grooming its image as the Nice Guys (think orphans in Rwanda), and now Autodesk demands a jury indict SW on being nasty.
No surprise. Part of the complaint is over DS SolidWorks using DWG in product names and so on. So this law suit is Autodesk's second battle front against SW, the first being in the European trademarks arena, which, I believe, Autodesk lost after its first Ireland-based lawyer basically gave up. Autodesk is appealing that European decision with a new London-based lawyer.
In the USA, Autodesk had been battling the Open Design Alliance over its use of DWG, but was also on the losing end. The USPTO basically said that waiting 25 years to register something is too long; in any case, file extensions cannot be registered as trade marks.
Hence, no surprise that Autodesk's lawyers have now turned to the courts to help it get that darn DWG registered -- or, perhaps, preventing anyone else from using it without permission.
In this lawsuit, Autodesk is using it recent agreement with Bentley Systems (as well as PTC) as one of its reasons DS SolidWorks is stepping over its bounds in using DWG in product names, such as DWGeditor and DWGgateway. Autodesk sez, no problem for SolidWorks adding .dwg to the end of a translated file name, but to market DWG to AutoCAD users is going t-o-o-o far.
Autodesk notes that SW uses a reverse-engineered version of DWG. Gee, I wonder where it comes from (Open Design Alliance).
Autodesk thinks it is misleading (and unnecessary) for SolidWorks to name some of its products and Web sites with a DWG. Autodesk feels this misleads people into thinking software from DS SoldiWorks works perfectly with DWG file.
It is true that non-Autodesk-sanctioned DWG products imperfectly translate DWG files. But Autodesk has to be careful, because its own non-DWG programs (Inventor, Alias, et al) also don't do perfect translations.
Autodesk maintains that much of DS SolidWorks' marketing statements regarding the superiority of its software and translators is false.
Autodesk argues that SW xlators can't be accurate because they are not based on Autodesk's own APIs. Autodesk calls SW-generated DWG files "faux," and that SW seeks to conceal that its software is the source of data corruption when DWG files are brought back into AutoCAD. Autodesk has to be careful here, because DWG files become corrupted within the AutoCAD ecosystem -- hence the need for the Recover command.
Autodesk asserts that SolidWorks is not authorized to use DWG in product names; of course, they can (as can anyone else), for no one is the registered owner.
Autodesk includes density analyses, which shows that the most commonly used terms on SolidWorks Web sites include autocad and dwg -- more than is reasonable necessary. Indeed, overwhelmingly more than even solidworks gets used.
It would be interesting to do a similar analysis on the Pepsi Web site and see where coke places.
That Orange Frame Bites Back
When DS SolidWorks updated their image with an orange rectangle, I wondered if they would get into trouble, because Inventor first used the same looking orange frame.
Today, they did. "Through its widespread use of the distinctive orange frame, Autodesk developed substantial goodwill and consumer recognition in its trade dress." Frankly, I don't think anyone but a graphic designer like myself ever noticed it, but it was really stupid of SolidWorks to color their rectangle orange. Aren't there 16.7 million other colors available?
Autodesk is also ticked off that DS SolidWorks uses "real" in its marketing -- just as Autodesk does.
Autodesk wants the court to determine the damages (ie, $$$) it suffered at the hands of DS SolidWorks' misleading marketing. And to restrain SW from being a copycat competitor.
Oh, and by the way, they also want to court to order the USPTO to deny DS SolidWorks' ownership of DWGeditor and DWGgateway.
After reading the 24 pages of court documents, the question that pops in my mind is, "Will Carl Bass and Jeff Ray sit at the same table during COFES next April?"
I agree that SolidWorks has gone overboard with the whole orange rectangle thing and its outreach to AutoCAD users through DWG tools. But then SW is a company that at one point claimed 300,000 of its customers were former AutoCAD users. Makes me wonder why they can't find very many fresh customers of their own.
OTOH, this obsession of Autodesk's in trying to register a decades-old file extension is very strange, particularly when you read of DWF being used more and more for xlation between Adsk software.
Well, let the titans battle it out. This'll make a dent in the profits DS SolidWorks sends to home to France each quarter. If nothing else, it was nice of Autodesk to wait until the celebrations in Barcelona ended.
Next up: DS SolidWorks' countersuit. I can hardly wait.