CAD Central

31 Dec, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

Autodesk sues Open Design Alliance; Windows Vista implements DWF support; and more.

Autodesk Sues Open Design Alliance

In a suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle on November 13, Autodesk alleges that the ODA's (Open Design Alliance's) DWGdirect software libraries infringe on Autodesk's TrustedDWG trademark.

The ODA released updated DWGdirect libraries to comply with a judge's order to stop using or simulating Autodesk's TrustedDWG technology. The initial version of the ODA DWGdirect libraries for the AutoCAD 2007 DWG format masks the identity of non-Autodesk generated DWG files to bypass the warning box that appears whenever a non-Autodesk file is opened.

The suit comes at a difficult time for the ODA, which is also dealing with a half-million dollar embezzlement scandal and the recent dismissal of Evan Yares, its longtime president and executive director. Mauritz Botha from IMSI/Design will perform the duties of the president until further notice.

Windows Vista Implements DWF Support

The newly released Windows Vista operating system incorporates support for Autodesk's DWF technology XPS (XML paper specification). This support will allow Vista users to view DWF files without requiring plug-ins or other additional software tools. DWF files published to the XPS specification can be automatically opened and viewed using the XPS viewer built into Windows Vista, Autodesk reports. XPS is an open, platform-neutral format for digital paginated documents, much like Adobe's PDF format. (It has, in fact, been dubbed a potential "PDF killer" by more than one industry commentator.) Microsoft will also release a stand-alone viewer for use in Windows 2000 through Vista. XPS Viewers will also be available for Mac, Linux and UNIX platforms. XPS supports only 2D DWF files in the initial release of Vista. Autodesk plans to add XPS publishing support to its products but did not specify a timetable. The XPS format does provide many of the features available with PDF, including the ability to apply digital signatures and control rights.

"Working with Microsoft, we're liberating our customers from paper-based sharing and proprietary software that might otherwise limit use and cause costly project or product delays due to lack of clarity or insight," said Amar Hanspal, vice-president, Autodesk Collaboration Solutions. "In effect, Windows Vista and XPS's integration in DWF technology democratizes access to CAD data, by making it possible for engineers and designers to share the right information with the right people at the right time."

In addition to automatic DWF file viewing, the Windows Vista desktop search function will make it easier for users to find relevant design files with Live Icons and Preview Pane features.

CMM Patent Dispute Ends in Mistrial

The ongoing courtroom battle between FARO Technologies and Hexagon-owned ROMER ended in a mistrial last month. At the heart of the dispute is a ROMER patent that covers a feature of articulated-arm CMMs (coordinate measurement machines): the ability to rotate a swivel axis indefinitely without encountering a hard stop. The jury found ROMER's patent valid, but it was unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether FARO infringed on it. A new trial is scheduled for April 2007. In a separate reexamination proceeding initiated by FARO, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected claims in ROMER's patent, determining that the unlimited rotation feature was already found in a number of prior patents. ROMER plans to respond to this decision by providing evidence to demonstrate the validity of its patent. ROMER says it's confident that after being presented with all of the evidence, the Patent Office will reach the same conclusion reached by the jury in the federal court trial—unanimous support for the patent.

Intel Rebounds in Workstation Market

Jon Peddie Research reports that workstation sales remained strong in the third quarter of 2006. Around 623,000 units shipped, up 17% from the same period in 2005, bringing in $1.5 billion in revenue. Results for the closely coupled professional graphics market were similarly robust: 869,000 units shipped for $284.1 million in revenue. Dell retained top vendor standing with 41% market share, and roughly 92% of workstations shipped were based on Intel technology.

Just a year ago, performance for Intel's Xeon platform was looking ragged compared with AMD's, and the market leader was consistently flogged in the press, Jon Peddie reports.

Dell was in a similar position, having tied its work-station products exclusively to Intel. But the long-awaited revamp of the Xeon platform in Spring 2006 began a turnaround for both companies.

PC graphics device shipments for the third quarter totaled 76 million, Peddie estimates, up 11.2% from the same period last year. A record 22.7 million mobile graphics devices shipped.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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