Autodesk Settles Piracy Cases Against Two Midwest Firms

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 14, 1998--Autodesk today announced it has settled software piracy cases against two engineering and design firms: Iowa-based Vector Graphics and Minnesota-based Pharmaceutical Feeding Corp.

The Autodesk settlements are part of a broad Midwest anti-piracy campaign being waged by a number of software companies, separately and through the Business Software Alliance. The multi-company effort includes a public education effort as well as legal action.

A custom building, engineering and manufacturing firm that built automation machinery, Pharmaceutical Feeding has closed its Brooklyn Park, Minnesota business as a result of financial obligations including the Autodesk agreement, which calls for payment of $80,000. Pharmaceutical's president, Donald Giorgio, is in the process of liquidating business and personal assets.

The company was found to be using 10 illegal copies of Autodesk's AutoCAD Release 12 software product, with a total value of $37,500 (manufacturer's suggested retail price). No legal copies of AutoCAD were found.

"The last thing we want is for legitimate small businesses to close their doors," said Sandra Boulton, head of Autodesk's anti-theft department. "However, no matter what size the company, it is not right to use illegal software to fund your business. And cases like this one are particularly ironic, when a company that depends on the law to protect its own designs decides to flaunt copyright laws to avoid paying for software."

In the Vector Graphics case, Autodesk confirmed the company's illegal software use during a software audit. Although the company owned some legal copies of AutoCAD design software, Vector Graphics was illegally using four copies of AutoCAD. According to US law, unauthorized duplication of copyrighted computer software can result in civil penalties as high as $100,000 per copyrighted work. In this particular case, however, Vector Graphics showed that it had been making an attempt to get a loan to pay for the software, so Autodesk agreed to a settlement covering the software's value.

Vector Graphics President John Trickel said his company will be more careful about software from now on, with clear, written policies to prevent improper software use. Trickel noted that before Autodesk even conducted its audit, he had filed a Small Business Loan application detailing proposed purchases, including the Autodesk software.

"We didn't set out to intentionally hurt anyone, but because we hired personnel prior to the receipt of our Small Business Loan and consequently could not purchase the necessary AutoCAD software, we ended up withholding legitimate revenues from Autodesk," he said. "As a businessman, I can understand how that can mount up to millions of dollars when you add up all the companies and individuals who don't take software laws seriously. After this experience, you can bet I take them seriously now."

Autodesk is a leader in the fight against software theft, and has recovered more than $26 million from illegal users of its software since the company's anti-piracy program began in 1989. Autodesk also works with other software companies to fight theft through the Business Software Alliance and the Software Publishers Association.

For more information on Autodesk's anti-theft program, to report suspected piracy, or to confirm that you are not violating your software license agreements, call Autodesk's anti-theft hotline, 800/NO-COPIES.

The fifth-largest PC software company in the world, Autodesk has more than three million customers in over 150 countries. For more information on Autodesk, contact any Authorized Autodesk Reseller, call Autodesk at 800/964-6432, type GO ADESK on CompuServe, or log in with a World Wide Web browser at . Autodesk shares are traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol ADSK. -0-

Note to Editors: Autodesk, AutoCAD,and the Autodesk logo are registered trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. For further information about the Business Software Alliance's anti-piracy efforts, call 202/872-5500.