CAD Central

30 Jun, 2008 By: Kenneth Wong

Court Rules AutoCAD Resale Lawful; The Other Scanner; SolidWorks Education Edition Teaches New Lessons; MSC.Software Plugs into PTC; The Twilight of LDT

Court Rules AutoCAD Resale Lawful

If you're wondering if you can legally resell those old copies of AutoCAD collecting dust on your shelf, you'll be glad to know the Honorable Richard Jones of the U.S. District Court in Seattle believes you're within your rights to do so.

In Timothy S. Vernor vs. Autodesk (for background, read "Licensed to Resell?" [Cadalyst, "CAD Central," November 2007]), eBay seller Vernor contended that he could resell the AutoCAD R14 copies he'd bought from someone else because the first-sale doctrine "permits a person who owns a lawfully made copy of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of the copy."

Autodesk argued Vernor couldn't hide behind this doctrine because "the transfer of AutoCAD packages to CTA [the original buyer] was not a sale." In doing so, Autodesk took the position that most software vendors have adopted — that when the clients pay for a software package, they're merely acquiring the right to use the code but not to own it, as you would a Superman comic book.

Judge Jones acknowledged, "No bright-line rule distinguishes mere licenses from sales. Several principles govern." He dug deep into the legal archives to compose his 21-page ruling. Citing a series of precedents, he reasoned, "[Vernor] seeks to sell a package of physical objects, which contain copies of copyrighted material. The essential features of such sales vary little whether selling movie prints via mail . . . or software packages via eBay."

Autodesk's software license specifies the software is nontransferable, suggesting the initial licensee has no right to pass on the usage right to someone else. But in this case, that clause didn't help Autodesk.

Judge Jones noted, "Not only has Autodesk failed to surmount the thorny issues of privity and mutual assent inherent in its contention that its license binds Mr. Vernor and his customers, it has ignored the terms of the license itself. The Autodesk license is expressly 'nontransferable.' License: grant of license. Autodesk does not explain how a nontransferable license can bind subsequent transferees." (For the complete ruling, go to [registration required].)

The court made several important pronouncements, including the following:

  • 1. Vernor is entitled to the protection of the first-sale doctrine.
  • 2. Vernor's resale of AutoCAD packages is not contributory copyright infringement.
  • 3. Autodesk has not established that its license binds Vernor or his customers.

Electronic Frontier Foundation's staff attorney Corynne McSherry calls the ruling "a major victory for consumers' rights." She observed, "Autodesk may have called the transfer a license, but it didn't look much like one. For example, the license didn't require consumers to return the software when they were done with it, nor to make ongoing payments for continued use."

Autodesk's press office says the company disagrees with the court's decision and plans to appeal.

The Other Scanner

The Other Solutions, which positions itself as an alternative to the big names in the scanner market, has just released another piece of hardware — a GTCO Calcomp Scan Plus 7 S (Superior) Series.

The Other Solutions released the new GTCO Calcomp Scan Plus 7 series.
The Other Solutions released the new GTCO Calcomp Scan Plus 7 series.

According to the company, the S Series is "ideal for customers who primarily scan technical documents and maps" — in other words, those who work with architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) and geospatial information system (GIS) applications.

Priced beginning at $9,250 for monochrome and at $9,950 for color models, the new 1200-dpi wide-format scanner runs on contact image sensor (CIS) technology and Nextimage scanning software.

It's ENERGY STAR–compliant and uses USB 2.0 extended Data Transfer Rate (xDTR) to eliminate USB bottleneck in data transfer.

SolidWorks Education Edition Teaches New Lessons

If you're a student or teacher, you now can upgrade to SolidWorks Education Edition 2008–2009, which includes all the capabilities of SolidWorks 2008 Office Premium. Previous versions of the software came with COSMOSWorks (for finite-element analysis), COSMOSMotion (for kinematics and motion analysis), COSMOSFloWorks (for computational fluid dynamics and thermal analysis), and COSMOSWorks Advanced Professional (for nonlinear and composite materials analysis).

For the first time, the 2008–2009 edition comes with COSMOSFloXpress, a fluid dynamics application that calculates how fluids flow through a part model. The new curriculum included with the software focuses on designing, analyzing, simulating, rendering, and constructing a scale-model Formula One racing car. According to the company, the new release includes more than "250 user-requested enhancements introduced in SolidWorks 2008."

MSC.Software Plugs into PTC

In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, the investment firm Elliot Associates, which owns 9.2% (4.1 million shares) of simulation software maker MSC.Software, revealed it was urging MSC to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale. According to the Orange County Business Journal, the investor reserved the rights to "have discussions with management, potential acquirers, financing sources, or other shareholders and formulate proposals."

MSC.Software introduced simulation solutions that plug into PTC s products. For example, users can run simulation on Pro/E models using the SimExpert module, which is part of the SimEnterprise package.
MSC.Software introduced simulation solutions that plug into PTC s products. For example, users can run simulation on Pro/E models using the SimExpert module, which is part of the SimEnterprise package.

One of the strategic alternatives is to plug MSC simulation products into the PTC product lifecycle management (PLM) portfolio. "Captured best-practice CAE [computer-aided engineering] methods can be directly distributed to Pro/E CAD users using MSC.Software's SimDesigner Enterprise template capability," the company announced in May. "[MSC.Software's] SimManager can be combined for a complete, end-to-end enterprise simulation environment that enables integration with Windchill, adding complementary capabilities to manage simulation related content and automate processes for added productivity."

Frank Kovacs, MSC's vice-president of global business partners and alliances, pointed out, "We exchange technology for demonstration and integration purposes . . . What we've achieved . . . was the availability of the functionality, which not only makes available our advanced analysis capabilities to Wildfire users, but integrates our SimManager technology with the Windchill environment."

In a recent investor call to explain the results of Q1, the company's chief operating officer Sam Auriemma acknowledged, "2007 was a year of transition for MSC with many opportunities and hurdles." The company's CEO and chairman Bill Weyand shared some good news. "Our first-quarter total revenue grew at 6% at $61.2 million," Weyand said. "This was led by a 20% growth in Europe, maintenance grew at 15% to $33 million, maintenance and services revenue grew in all geographies worldwide as well as having a favorable currency impact."

The Twilight of LDT

AutoCAD Land Desktop (LDT) users learned about the retirement of LDT 2006 in March when Autodesk announced the news. Recently, they learned Release 2009 is destined to meet the same fate.

IMAGINiT Technologies, owned by the AutoCAD reseller RAND Worldwide, wrote, "The day is finally here! Autodesk is announcing today [June 3] that AutoCAD Land Desktop 2009 will be the last . . . " To curb panic, it added, "As we say goodbye to Land Desktop, we are saying hello to a new product called Civil."

Engineered Efficiency, a civil engineering consultancy, used its Civil 3D discussion forum ( to pronounce "The king is dead! Long live the king! . . . Land Desktop 2009 and Land Desktop Companion 2009 will be the last versions of the venerable Autodesk civil application."

Reaction to the news ranged from enthusiasm ("Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's about time.") to annoyance ("A little sooner than I thought") to acceptance ("It should not come as a surprise to any of us; we have been hearing 'rumors' of this sort for a few years now").

According to Adam Strafaci, Autodesk's senior manager for civil engineering industry marketing, "Autodesk is not simply reducing the choices for its civil engineering customers with this move." It plans to launch AutoCAD Civil, which will provide design and construction documentation for civil engineering technicians, drafters, and surveyors.

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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