Vernor vs. Autodesk Lawsuit Reaches Partial Settlement

7 Nov, 2008 By: Kenneth Wong

Question still remains on legality of AutoCAD software resale.

Timothy Vernor, who owns and operates Happy Hour Comics, and Autodesk have come to an agreement to settle part of the Vernor vs. Autodesk lawsuit he filed against the AutoCAD giant.

Vernor sued Autodesk in August 2007, alleging the company interfered with his attempts to sell a used copy of AutoCAD on the popular auction site eBay. Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy group representing Vernor, contends that “the owner of a copyrighted product can resell that product without permission, and that the court should protect Vernor’s rights to resell AutoCAD software.”

Autodesk, like most software vendors, maintains its software is licensed, not sold; therefore the software cannot be transferred. (For detailed history, read “Genie Out of the Bottle,” Cadalyst, September 2008).

Autodesk’s press office confirmed both parties have reached a confidential agreement on the second claim for relief, in which Vernor accuses Autodesk of using “unfair and deceptive practices,” but the other portion still remains active.

Vernor declined to comment on the recent settlement, but said, “We want to focus on the main issue of establishing that the resale of software does not violate copyright law.”

In the unsettled portion, Vernor asks the court to declare that his resale of the software is lawful and does not infringe Autodesk’s copyright.

In a previous order denying Autodesk’s motion to dismiss the case, the presiding judge sided with Vernor, noting, “Mr. Vernor’s resale of AutoCAD packages is not contributory copyright infringement.”

Even if Vernor wins the case in the end, the eBay seller’s virtual storefront might no longer offer used AutoCAD copies. He revealed, “I am not currently selling on eBay due to recent fee increases and policy changes.”

To share your views on this item, go to my blog entry, “Software Resale on eBay.”

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