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Autodesk Suing to Keep Format Closed

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the haven't-we-been-through-this-before dept.

Software 365

An anonymous reader writes "AutoCAD is by far the industry standard CAD tool for engineering drawings. When I was an engineering student it was on every computer in the college of engineering. Autodesk, the makers of the AutoCAD software, are attempting to quash an effort to reverse-engineer the proprietary binary format used by AutoCAD. Looking at the court order, their whole argument revolves around something called TrustedDWG that basically looks like a digital signature that verifies the file was created by an Autodesk product."

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365 comments

Trademark, what? (4, Interesting)

Saxerman (253676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313584)

From the court papers, the restraining order is against "using or simulating Autodesk's TrustedDWG technology, including but not limited to the Autodesk watermark and/or TrustedDWG code, without Autodesk's authorization, from distributing DWGdirect libraries that use, incorporate or simulate Autodesk's TrustedDWG technology or that otherwise insert or mimic the unauthorized Autodesk watermark and/or TrustDWG code."

It further says this is granted under the Lanham Act, which is "found in Title 15 of the U.S. Code and contains the federal statutes governing trademark law in the United States. "

My (limited) search of the 41 sections of the Lanham Act finds no reference to any technological protections, and everything I can find points to other sections of federal law which deal directly with patent and/or copyright. Anyone running some legal codecs care to explain how a trademark grants protection for code and technology?

Re:Trademark, what? (5, Informative)

shystershep (643874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314118)

The Lanham Act is the federal trademark code. What Autodesk is trying to argue is that anyone 'faking' their 'TrustedDWG' technology is violating their trademark. The best analogy I can think of is GM saying you can only put 'genuine GM' parts in their cars. Of course, it is a lot more complex than that here, and judges aren't known for their technological savvy. The keystone of trademark law, though, is how likely something is to confuse the consumer. In other words, for Autodesk to win they will have to show that consumers are likely to confuse this imitation 'TrustedDWG' for the real thing; i.e., that since it's a .dwg file, it must have been made/come from Autodesk.

Not sure what I think of their chances. On the one hand, AutoCAD is so ubiquitous that anyone that has any need for CAD probably automatically associates .dwg files with AutoCAD. On the other hand, well . . . who gives a shit? It'd be like MS claiming trademark in .doc files -- sure, everyone knows .doc files = Word, but it's something that's below the radar. It's not like you go into a store to buy a .doc or .dwg file, and might be confused about it's source.

It's been a while since I've looked at the Lanham Act, but I think Autodesk would have to prove some sort of damage, even if they were able to show likelihood of confusion.

Re:Trademark, what? (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314186)

Its not about confusing the customer in this case its about confusing the product. Lets my GM car has some sorta scanner on it that looks for the GM logo on every part installed. Of course in the car example you would be violating the trademark, but lets say I do some mumbo jumbo that makes it visually look to a human eye to not look anything like the GM logo. The fact that I'm using the GM logo at all is the issue then.. Is it legal to use another companies logo on your product even if the customer never sees that logo.

Re:Trademark, what? (3, Insightful)

linuxg0d (913436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314280)

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Re:Trademark, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314472)

Isn't it more important to first work out what colour ar the leaves?

Sounds like printers... what happened with them? (1)

Lanoitarus (732808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314560)

If your analogy is correct, this sounds an awful lot like a software version of when printer manufactuers sued to prevent generic cartridge cos from making replacements that had their "authentication" chips in them (the printer would reject a cartridge that didnt have the correct chip). What ever happened to those suits? I cant recall.

Re:Trademark, what? (3, Interesting)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314308)

The most compelling argument I could see them giving is that people could start considering Autodesk's products inferior for their inability to open subtly malformed (but supposedly "genuine") files correctly. It's kind of like Apple only legally allowing their software on their own hardware so they can limit the possible configurations and better manage the user experience (not that I agree with either stance, but it's where they're coming from, I imagine).

Re:Trademark, what? (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314568)

Not sure what I think of their chances.

I'm not sure either, and IANAL, but if I wanted to contest this I would probably cite Sega v. Accolade [eidolons-inn.net] (Scroll down, copied text appears here:

If you will recall from our earlier discussion, it was none other than Electronic Arts who first determined how to bypass the proprietary Sega code in the Genesis and thereby produce its own videogame cartridges. In response to EA's actions, Sega developed a new security system for the Genesis and quietly incorporated it into the system boot ROM starting with the 1991 production batches. Sega called this proprietary code the TradeMark Security System (TMSS). In essence, it was a simplified version of the 10NES lockout chip that Nintendo had used in the NES. Sega had elected not to go to the 10NES route because they felt that a complete lockout solution was needless overkill. Their solution, the TMSS, was based on very simple principles of intellectual property law. A piece of code burned into the Genesis boot ROM would look for a header code that was supposed to be part of every Genesis program stored in cartridge format. If the header code contained certain unique characteristics, then it was a legitimately licensed Sega product. If the TMSS did not find what it sought, then it would refuse to boot up the system. If the system booted correctly, then the TMSS would display the phrase PRODUCED BY OR UNDER LICENSE FROM SEGA ENTERPRISES LTD. on the screen for a few seconds before running the program contained inside the cartridge. Both pieces of code, the one in the TMSS and the correct cartridge header code, were copyrighted Sega property. The TMSS also generated a trademark display every time it was activated, that being the Sega name itself. In essence, the TMSS was a double tripwire for anybody trying to produce unlicensed Genesis cartridges. If you made an unlicensed cartridge that activated the TMSS, then you were in violation of both copyright and trademark law. If you could figure out a way to get your game running without tripping the TMSS, then you were legally in the clear.

Most of us know how that turned out - Accolade eventually won the right to continue to distribute their game cartridges. Sega went on to do the same kind of crap on the Dreamcast, but they weren't able to prevent clever programmers from putting a notice on the same screen that came up saying "licensed by sega" that says "no, it isn't, but this message has to be here".

Trademark protection != Denial of interoperability (4, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314504)

AutoDesk can certainly make a lot of noise about other people using their trademarks (if they are), and courts might listen with some interest.

But no way in hell can AutoDesk deny interoperability with their file formats. The precedents for interoperability as a protected activity are legion, spanning decades.

And if such claims were ever to be allowed even once, it would open Pandora's Box bigtime. The ramifications for all of human industry (not just computing) would be utterly immense, and catastrophic.

A huge amount of manufacturing rides piggyback on standards set by named brands, and really the relationship is symbiotic, although the big brands don't wish to acknowledge that. AutoDesk wishes to have a wholly tied customer base instead of being "merely" the leader in their manufacturing community. Such protectionism is very blinkered.

Hopefully their claims will be denied. If not, this could be very bad.

Industry Standard? (4, Insightful)

bryansj (89051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313606)

I've been using CAD programs (mainly CATIA) in my line of work for 10 years and haven't used AutoCAD once since college.

To me AutoCAD is like MS Paint compared to Photoshop. Maybe other places use it more but they sure don't use it much in aerospace CAD.

Re:Industry Standard? (4, Interesting)

TERdON (862570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313674)

CATIA isn't really suited for 2D CAD work (floorplans, early design sketches, electrical and other schemas, PCB construction etc). Neither is Solidworks, Pro/E or any of the other 3D CAD tools I've used. This is one of the areas where AutoCAD still shines (except of course, backward compability - with old files as well as old engineers!)

Re:Industry Standard? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313762)

Microstation beats, or at least used to beat AutoCAD in 2D.

Re:Industry Standard? (3, Informative)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314130)

Blech. At least as late as Microstation 98, it was a button driven piece of trash. Our drafters needed two monitors. One for the drawing and one for the ocean of palettes required to do the drafting. Call me a luddite if you must, but a CLI/keyboard interface will always be faster for Drafting than a GUI/palette driven one. The tools need to change too fast to waste time zipping the mouse around the screen.

Re:Industry Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314230)

You realise though that 98 was now almost 9 years ago now though? Things might of changed a touch in that time :)

Re:Industry Standard? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314326)

But even 9 years ago "might of" didn't make any more sense than today. Perhaps you meant "might have", which does make sense?

Re:Industry Standard? (3, Interesting)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313746)

"To me AutoCAD is like MS Paint compared to Photoshop. Maybe other places use it more but they sure don't use it much in aerospace CAD."

Hence the lawsuit. This is an effort by a company to lock its customers into its product artificially rather than creating a product that competes on actual features/support etc... If you use AutoCAD and decide to move to another software, you either have to redraw all of your current drawings or do without them. This is identical to MS reasoning with regard to file formats; the only difference being that MS has to be very careful about who they sue due to anti-trust issues whereas AutoDesk has no such worries.

Re:Industry Standard? (4, Informative)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313876)

"If you use AutoCAD and decide to move to another software, you either have to redraw all of your current drawings or do without them."

No, you don't. Most major CAD systems will import DWG files since they have paid the licensing fees to AutoDesk to include a utility to perform the import. It isn't always pretty, but the functionality exists.

Re:Industry Standard? (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313960)

"It isn't always pretty, but the functionality exists."

So it is pretty much as useful as importing macro-infested word docs into OpenOffice? If you have to redo parts of your drawing and re-proof it, how is that a whole lot different from just redrawing it? In other words, how valuable is your time and isn't this still an incentive to stay with AutoDesk rather than moving to the competition?

re: redraw drawings to switch products? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314550)

In many cases, I've found this shareware program to be an excellent, inexpensive way to get drawings converted into other formats:

http://www.freefirestudio.com/cadconvert.htm [freefirestudio.com]

Re:Industry Standard? (1)

Gaima (174551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314582)

There is always DXF.

The last 6-7 years might have changed things though, and you'd still probably have to open and save all your existing documents.

Re:Industry Standard? (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314122)

Autodesk has its own product to compete with the likes of Pro/E. It is called Inventor, and is a parametric modeller, with modules for assemblies, sheet metal, etc.

Re:Industry Standard? (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314384)

This is identical to MS reasoning with regard to file formats; the only difference being that MS has to be very careful about who they sue due to anti-trust issues whereas AutoDesk has no such worries.

Why shouldn't they be worried? What percentage of this market do they control?

Re:Industry Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17313796)

I've been using CAD programs (mainly CATIA) in my line of work for 10 years and haven't used AutoCAD once since college.


Well, you must know their product pretty well then, eh?

Re:Industry Standard? (2, Interesting)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313896)

It's used by some lower tier autmotive suppliers. It's used rather exstensively in many smaller to maybe mid-sized architectural firms (At least from what I have seen of architectural firms.) It's also used rather extensively in the design of many consumer products, like grills, stoves and refridgerators.

    The "industry" that uses CAD software is rather wide and deep.

Re:Industry Standard? (5, Informative)

rtaylor187 (694389) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314238)

Most of the posts here seem to be stating that AutoCAD isn't the "standard" because
it isn't the leader in the arena of 3D design.

AutoCAD is _not_ the standard for 3D design. I'm not sure it ever was...
Autodesk competes in that arena with their Inventor product - but I don't think
that they are anywhere near the market leader. It's a pretty fragmented market.

However, I believe the AutoCAD _is_ the standard for 2D architectural drawing.
This is the arena where architects (or, rather, the draftsman working for an architect)
draw the 2D drawings. Buildings, landscapes, etc.

Re:Industry Standard? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314288)

Just out of curiosity, what are CATIA's main competitors and how do they handle data transfer from one program to the other?

Re:Industry Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314606)

Autocad has changed alot in 10 years.

Aerospace is dominated by CATIA. (i have a friend who is a tool and die engineer for a major aerospace company, he uses autocad. the aircraft are designed in CATIA but the tools and dies are mainly done in Autocad.)

transportation is dominated by microsation (mainly because DOTs want the files in microstation format and many of thier standards are desigend around microstations output)

other than those two examples, Autocad dominates pretty much everything else.

Won't happen - too many precedents (3, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313614)

This doesn't even deserve publicity as there is no chance in hell that it's going to pass. Saying this will pass would be equivalent of Microsoft being able to quash OpenOffice.org and StarOffice's .doc import utilities.

Re:Won't happen - too many precedents (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313646)

Saying this will pass would be equivalent of Microsoft being able to quash OpenOffice.org and StarOffice's .doc import utilities.

Shhhh! Don't give them any ideas...

Re:Won't happen - too many precedents (3, Informative)

DeepRedux (601768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313774)

The judge hearing the case disagrees. He signed an order saying [aecnews.com]
the Court finds that Audodesk has demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits.
This wording was proposed by Audodesk's lawyers, but signed by the judge.

It's not about reverse engineering. (2, Informative)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314026)

There was a recent discussion about this case, and the central point was NOT that the open source group was reverse engineering documents. It was about the open software's representation of itself as a "genuine" file using the AutoCAD name. The equivalent to a ODT file containing the terminology "Genuine Microsoft Word file, guaranteed to work". I have my issues with Autodesk, but they aren't necessarily the evil ones here.

With the myraid tags and calls in the DWG format, any open source implementation, while well intentioned, is bound to miss a few and create problems. Ironically, the Autodesk Genuine tag was meant to assist interoperability by giving support staff a clue as to why a file might not open correctly. They weren't ever trying to stop the creation or use of DWG files by third party software, and it's likely in their best interests to keep it a de facto standard.

Re:It's not about reverse engineering. (5, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314228)

There was a recent discussion about this case, and the central point was NOT that the open source group was reverse engineering documents. It was about the open software's representation of itself as a "genuine" file using the AutoCAD name. The equivalent to a ODT file containing the terminology "Genuine Microsoft Word file, guaranteed to work". I have my issues with Autodesk, but they aren't necessarily the evil ones here.

Right, and that combined with their products only working with signed drawings means they're using this watermark as a ruse to try to monopolize their corner of the industry. This is basically what HP and Lexmark have tried to do, in which they've put code in their printers to check the manufacturer of the printhead. There's no reason for it technologically, it's only there for anticompetitive purposes. Same here, and the DMCA, as bad as it is, does say that using copyright as a ruse to prevent interoperability won't fly.

Re:It's not about reverse engineering. (3, Interesting)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314574)

their products only working with signed drawings
Not true, at least yet. From EFF:
it pops up a warning dialog stating that the file was not created by an app authorized by Autodesk and might therefore result in "stability issues." (Users can disable these warnings, but they are enabled by default.)

So I can still do my work, open and save my files, regardless. I don't see why this a frivolous lawsuit. Trademarks have to be defended. I will agree with you in that the DMCA is probably not the approach they should be using, but there is a fine line between completely opening the format, something which they probably can't do simply because of the 20 years of evolution that has made it an in- house mess (and they already have the open DXF format), and suing everyone who trys to use it - a la Adobe in the early days of PDF.

I don't know, as an admin, I would welcome a simple warning for my users, especially if they are going to be getting files from consultants and other sources unknown.

Printers are so much different than an enterprise implementation of a multi-library CAD package that I don't know if the HP analogy works here. If generic ink breaks something on your deskjet, it can't be saved back to a server and cause thousands of drawings to ship with a critical fire escape symbol missing. There are many very real technological reasons to check file integrity, which is what they are really doing here.

Many on here are trying to spin to towards corporate greed, but I think this court case comes down to respect above all else.

Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (0, Flamebait)

realnowhereman (263389) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313658)

It's been a while since I used AutoCAD, so perhaps it's moved on significantly since then; but I'd be surprised if anyone does any real work with AutoCAD any more. It's essentially a tool for teaching students about CAD.

If you're actually building any kind of real object, then you're probably using Pro/E or Solidworks. If you're not, then you're wasting a lot of your own time.

Am I wrong? Once you've done 3D parametric modelling, you wouldn't want to go back to AutoCAD.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (1)

TERdON (862570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313738)

If you're actually building any kind of real object, then you're probably using Pro/E or Solidworks.

Custom made electrical cabinets? I'd like you to explain the workflow of creating an electrical schema in Pro/E! :)

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314110)

Sure, I wouldn't want to do my taxes in SolidWorks either, but what advantages does AutoCAD have over traditional schematic capture programs (OrCAD, gschem, etc.) for making electrical schematics?

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313808)

At one point in my engineering school career, I was a MechE major. As such, I had to take an introductory CAD course in AutoCAD and an advanced one in Pro/E. I didn't mind AutoCAD for the 2D stuff. We started doing some simple 3D stuff in AutoCAD and it was absolutely horrible--a complete kludge if I've ever seen one. Pro/E makes that stuff so much easier. Now, I really don't love Pro/E. In fact, CAD was one of the reasons I left MechE. There was a lot to like in MechE... but I was a lot more interested in mathematically modeling physical systems than doing CAD and actually design work. That said, Pro/E can do amazing things if you actually learn to use it well. I couldn't be bothered. I dropped the class several weeks into it.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (1)

Tesen (858022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313886)

If you're actually building any kind of real object, then you're probably using Pro/E or Solidworks. If you're not, then you're wasting a lot of your own time.

Or Unigraphics, especially considering once you've modelled your product, generate the program code from with in and wooha, you're off laughing on your CNC (mostly).

Tes

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (2, Interesting)

mrycar (578010) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313918)

I work at primarily a UGS house, but AutoCAD is still entrenched in the facilities layout, Electrical Controls, facilities management areas. We do cheat though, we use factoryCAD a add-on which provides parametric capabilities.

Now this suit does raise concerns, we manage all data with Teamcenter, We require one data management solution to keep all of the relationships of parts, tools, and layout linked to reduce effort. With the suit AutoDesk may break some of those links. Also our Parametric plugin may cease making valid DWGs.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (2, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313926)

I can only speak for my country, but AutoCAD is absoultely huge here in the architect business, at least on a national scale (Sweden), but I believe it's big throughout at least the rest of Scandinavia too, if not Europe. Over here, it's what MS Office is to Office applications, Apache to web servers. Not AutoCAD by itself though; maybe that's what you meant, but AutoCAD with various plugins depending if it's about architecture, industry and piping, HVAC, or something else.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (1, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314220)

but I believe it's big throughout at least the rest of Scandinavia

Now I can see why AutoCAD software is being protected in this way. Once those US Haxors pwn the DWG format, Ikea's design files are sitting ducks.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (2, Informative)

MouseR (3264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313946)

My father was chief architect for Royal Bank of Canada, when it had it's own architectural dept (wich they closed in the 90s). The department took the entire 7th floor of the Place Ville-Marie [emporis.com] building in Montreal. It was a big department with lots of architects, engineers and dedicated drafting machinery like CalComps.

AutoCAD was the *only* thing they had internally. It was *very* big, and they had 3D extensions and bill management.

So, yes. Industry standard. Surpassed? Certainly with products such as Catia, but in the technical plan & drafting area, AutoCAD is still very big. Most small to medium architectural design firms still use it today.

Surprise! (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313956)

I'd be surprised if anyone does any real work with AutoCAD any more.
My home town's public works department uses AutoCAD.
Believe it or not, lots of real-world CAD work is 2D.
Am I wrong? Once you've done 3D parametric modelling, you wouldn't want to go back to AutoCAD.
Just like how once you've used a word processor, you wouldn't want to go back to a text editor.

A tool may be more powerful overall but still be impractical for tasks easily handled with simpler tools.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314092)

Most of the condo's in Toronto are designed in 2D in AutoCad. There is a little sketchup used here and there and 3dsmax is mainly what's used for the billboard renderings of the Condos. It's still being used.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (3, Insightful)

WaXHeLL (452463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314154)

Documentation/specifications, cable specifications/assemblies, overview drawings, interwiring diagrams, etc are depicted *so well* in a 3D parametric environment.

Sure, the modern set of design tools is far above AutoCAD, but there are quite a few situations where 2D modelling (which AutoCad excels at) is required.

Ummmm how about NO? (4, Informative)

DnemoniX (31461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314202)

I am the IT Director for a county, I can tell you that AutoCAD is used heavily outside of teaching. Not only does our Highway Department use it exclusively for designing civil engineering projects such as roads and bridges, but the State Department of Transport also uses it for nearly every aspect of their projects. I have several friends who work in many different aspects of design and engineering from CNC work to design prototyping for medical devices. Surprise! They all use CAD products from Autodesk.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314398)

I work for SolidWorks.

The market shares off AutoCAD and SolidWorks are very close in terms of installed licences, with AutoCAD taking the edge by a few percent.

Re:Who cares? AutoCAD is a toy for students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314474)

Agree 100%. Long live REAL tools, like Catia.

AutoCRAP is a very expensive toy 4 rich students (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314536)

AutoCRAP became very expensive early on. It never really improved itself, as all its programmers were evidently told to work on was more 'security' and 'anti-copy/fair use' logic, and all its' real money went to pay lawyers to erect legal fences on its cash cow. All cows grow old, and AutoCRAP is no different. I still fume over the 'dongle'
that they stuck on some early versions. Even its so called student and academic discounts sucked except for version 12 which windows' version was available in colleges for two and a half bills. I was an early user in a engineering shop and even got two companies to buy it. That was long ago. No more will they dupe me, and I am not alone. They are devious crooks ripping off business people. They do this easily business people are really stupid, and even more backward technically. Business people get a limited education, long on BS and on acting prideful and short on real math and real science. They get a physics course with no mathmatics. Most do not progress in math
beyond the six basic financial functions, and they use calculators for that. They are easily duped by slicksters and slow to admit when they've been had....bad for their 'image'. Seen it happen over and over again. Government civil servants are some of the worst. When ITT took the Air Force it was for millions, and the Air Force has not admitted being rooked to this very day! And that was over thirty years ago. Bet they
are STILL buyin spare parts for the junk that ITT sold them. Of course bribes and influence peddlin were extremely likely involved. Probably more secret than 'Dubya's secret affair with 'Condi'. Think I'll see a 'Lincoln Lawyer' and get my own piece of that rock. Taxpayers deserve some break from this stupidity.

Nice Squat on Baltic Avenue You Have There. (5, Interesting)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313672)

This behavior is consistent with monopolistic thinking: we own the market, so let's raise the barrier to entry and/or companion-software diversity by making our product harder to use.

The thing is, you'd best be sure your monopoly is rock solid before attempting such a move, lest it bite you in the ass when your users find their workflow has a new kink in it.

Interoperability is cool. All the happening kids are doing it. Software mongers who fail to understand this are doomed to wither and die, or rule us with a taste of rising bile in our throats (I'm looking at you, MS Office). Grudging and bitter acceptance is not equal to brand loyalty.

We've been phasing AutoCAD out of our shop here because it won't play nice with others. I doubt we're the only ones.

Re:Nice Squat on Baltic Avenue You Have There. (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313990)

This behavior is consistent with monopolistic thinking: we own the market, ...
The thing is, Autodesk doesn't own the market. AutoCAD may be more well known to the common user, but there are many other products in use for mechanical and electrical design. Microstation, CAM350, PADS, SolidEdge, etc. None of which use the DWG format. Ultimately, this is a non-issue.

Re:Nice Squat on Baltic Avenue You Have There. (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314044)

Since the CAD market is _not_ anywhere near being monopolised, it can't be a monopoly move. It's a lock-in move, to try to make it harder to switch. It's like you own a Ford, and GM, uh, never mind, let's not go down that road.

Re:Nice Squat on Baltic Avenue You Have There. (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314366)

MS Office may be a monopoly, but I'd rather deal with Microsoft any day over Autodesk.

We used to have a CAD class at the college, but we had to cancel it due to the costs of AutoCAD. We could teach using another CAD offering, but since Autocad is still the de-facto industry standard, and the only CAD professor available knew only AutoCAD, it would be a disservice to the students to teach a CAD class without teaching AutoCAD. The upgrade from Autocad 2000 to their latest offering was something around $2000 per seat, And this was education pricing. Compound this with the fact that we are starting to phase out computer labs with a laptop per student initiative which would make the AutoCAD costs even higher, not to mention that there wasn't enough students interested in the class to recoup the costs, the college made the decision to kill the class.

Of course, we don't have a huge engineering department or engineering students (we focus on liberal arts) so it was an easier decision for us but I can probably make a safe bet that if other small colleges were put into this same situation of CAD class vs Cost, then the class would go. You just can't justify a $20000 cost every 1-3 years for 10-20 students tops Especially when we can spend this money on other classes with much higher student counts and better software cost options for education.

Re:Nice Squat on Baltic Avenue You Have There. (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314452)

> Nice Squat on Baltic Avenue You Have There For the Monopoly n00bs out there (I had to look it up), Baltic and Mediterranean are the cheapest buy/rent properties on the board, and the least landed-upon.

Fighting the Last War--Muskets are Out (5, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313684)

I've been using CAD since the Mid 80s (paper before), and AutoDesk got the jump just because they were the only early serious 2D CAD player when Microsoft hit the street with that, what was it, CP/M derivative OS, called DOS or something.

This is a new millenium and 2D is not gone, but it is dying fast. Somehow they, Autodesk, missed the point that we live and think in a 3D world.

SolidWorks.com has about 500,000 users of their mid-range software and has trounced AutoDesk's various offerings, so AD is just trying to protect what little it has left in 2D. What a pity.

By all rights, AD should have been a leader in low-mid 3D CAD, but they squandered their efforts, not the least of which involve cumbersome user interfaces. I think they needed someone like Andy Hertzfeld and others from Apple's early days to make their CAD interfaces far easier to learn and use.

Good bye AD. I use us no more.
Now History. Part of the lore.

Re:Fighting the Last War--Muskets are Out (1)

gregorio (520049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314158)

This is a new millenium and 2D is not gone, but it is dying fast. Somehow they, Autodesk, missed the point that we live and think in a 3D world.

SolidWorks.com has about 500,000 users of their mid-range software and has trounced AutoDesk's various offerings, so AD is just trying to protect what little it has left in 2D. What a pity.
Except that Autodesk has a lot of 3d products, including the sucessful Autodesk Inventor line, wich is superior than SolidWorks.

Re:Fighting the Last War--Muskets are Out (1)

Meatloaf Surprise (1017210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314460)

Why end a blockquote
when you can start a new one!

Re:Fighting the Last War--Muskets are Out (4, Informative)

addsalt (985163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314324)

This is a new millenium and 2D is not gone, but it is dying fast.
There are still plenty of applications (wiring schematics, HVAC) that don't transfer well into 3D and will continue to use 2D applications. Even in applications that are based around a 3D model still need a 2D interface for creating prints.

Re:Fighting the Last War--Muskets are Out (2, Informative)

marx (113442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314340)

Autodesk owns both Maya [autodesk.com] and 3DS Max [autodesk.com] , so I think it's a bit too early to say "good bye Autodesk". Perhaps they're not dominating the 3D CAD segment, but in principle the difference between a general 3D modeler and a CAD program is marginal.

Re:Fighting the Last War--Muskets are Out (1)

pkiesel (245289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314394)

Autodesk does sell a 3D parametric solid model design package: Inventor. It's a low-mid level solution with a steadily growing range of functions and user base. Similar to Solidworks, though generally less well regarded, Inventor is extremely easy to learn, with a pretty intuitive interface and feature set.

I've been using Inventor professionally for about four years and have taught it to high school students whom I mentor in the FIRST Robotics Competition. You can see some of their award-winning work http://www.cybersonics.org/cybersonics/awardentrie s/2006/inventor2006.asp/ [cybersonics.org] here.

Stop playing dumb, you know the law (0, Troll)

plastic.person (776892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313706)

"at the court order, their whole argument revolves around something called TrustedDWG that basically looks like a digital signature that verifies the file was created by an Autodesk product."

Yes, it's called DCMA. In addition to the illegal reverse engineering, the forging of a digital signature is tantamount to check forgery. If you participate in either of these then you must be sent to prison as was Ikeman, David Irving and (hopefully soon) Torvald! I can't wait for the mass FBI raids on Open Source offices, and seeing the buses taking them all to prison where these thieving, overweight, WOW players belong.

If Torvalds Were In Prison... (2, Interesting)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313842)

...millions of bearded virgins would pore over every aspect of the prison security system until an exploit was discovered. A hole would be opened in the prison's firewall and Linus would be rescued through an SSH tunnel.

All the while the prison officials would be just sitting there going, "Doo doo, doot-doot-doot, doo de doo doo-dah..."

Then, in a feat of classically passionate Finnish revenge, Linus would initiate a global hack which would make all of our cities go coo-coo like in Superman III, like when the little silhouette guys in the walk|don't-walk lights starting punching each other out.

And all the while the government would be just sitting there going, "Doo doo, doot-doot-doot, doo de doo doo-dah..."

Re:Stop playing dumb, you know the law (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313884)

"Yes, it's called DCMA."

Aaaahhh, DCMA [dcma.mil] . That makes the rest of your statement make more sense. I thought this argument revolved around the DMCA [wikipedia.org] . My bad :)

Re:Stop playing dumb, you know the law (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314134)

Just a note - it's the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), not the DCMA (which would be Digital Copyright Millennium Act, which doesn't really parse).

More like "gotcha last" (4, Informative)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313722)

Looking at the Open Design folks site brings up this tidbit [opendesign.com] :
The Open Design Alliance understands that Autodesk has, for approximately two years, been distributing application programs which include our copyrighted DGNdirect libraries, for reading and writing DGN V8 format files. Autodesk does not have, nor has it ever had, any license or right to use DGNdirect in its application programs. We believe that Autodesk, by its actions, is infringing our copyright.

All Autodesk had to do was join the Open Design Alliance, and they could use the ODA libraries without restriction. Instead, they filed suit.

Don't forget to read The Autodesk File [fourmilab.ch] for more insights into how the once-revered company became just another soulless money hole.

Re:More like "gotcha last" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314042)

Autodesk was about to get sued because it using a software library without the needed license for over two years. Instead of getting a license, they sued the makers of the software library:

http://www.opendesign.com/dgnstatement.asp [opendesign.com]

I think this would be a good time to drop the DWG format altogether, it wasn't very good anyway.

Not the standard anymore (4, Insightful)

rsmith (90057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313724)

AutoCAD is by far the industry standard CAD tool for engineering drawings.

Not in the mechanical engineering world. 3D packages like CATIA, Pro/Engineer and Unigraphics have long eclipsed it in the high-tech industry.

It's still usefull for making quick sketches etc.

For exporting drawings, dxf and especially pdf are much more important than the dwg format. For 3D data, IGES and STEP are most often used, especially because they're open standards.

Less litigation... (2, Insightful)

Fysiks Wurks (949375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313776)

...more inovation please. AutoCAD is desperatley trying to hang onto past instead of leading the way with new inovative and intuitive CAD/3D software. They are no longer the only game in town. Sour grapes.

Increasingly Irrelevant Anyway (5, Informative)

DG (989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313804)

For those who have never done CAD:

AutoCAD is a 2D drawing tool with functions optimized for the production of scale drawings. It is an extension of the old T-Square And Pencil technique into the computer; a sort of Adobe Illustrator tuned to drafting.

It is very, very good at this, and I found it (given that I had a little old skool drafting experience) fairly easy to adapt to.

But at its core, you're still projecting 3D objects into 2D or psudo 3D (orthometric projections) using the draftsman's brain as the projection device.

Enter Solidworks.

Solidworks is a parametric 3D modeling package. You create the object in 3D, and then the software generates your 2D drawings from it. No more construction lines. No more mismatched views.

There have been 3D modelers before (VariCAD for Linux isn't bad) but Solidworks takes it a step farther - it remembers every step in the construction of an object, and every step is tunable. Where past 3D modelers used Boolean operations to construct their shapes - but then the shape was fixed - Solidworks allows you to change the parameters of every operation at any time. Punch a hole through an object, but then discover it is the wrong size? No problem - just select the hole in the object's construction tree, and change its size.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It has revolutionized mechanical drawing, to the point where it is inconceivable that I'd ever use AutoCAD ever again. Solidworks is one of the few software packages I've ever used that just left me dumbfounded in amazement at how powerful, easy, and intuitive it is.

And no, I don't work for them. :)

DG

Re:Increasingly Irrelevant Anyway (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314040)

Yep, though they are different tools and each have valid uses. I believe that you can get your hands on AutoCAD for a LOT less money than SolidWorks...that puppy ain't cheap. If you don't need all the solid modeling capabilities of SolidWorks, there's really nothing wrong with AutoCAD.

SolidWorks is an awesome package though. I've got a few friends in the automotive industry that basically get paid to play in solidworks all day. Yes, I said 'play'...most of them feel like they're being paid to play a video game all day ;) I've played with it myself a bit, and it truly is one of the most intuitive 3D modelling packages out there, very easy to learn. Hard to master, but really only because of the massive scope available within SolidWorks...it doesn't just allow physical modeling of 3D shapes, but also handles modeling of material properties and on and on and on.

That piece of software alone makes me wish I'd gone with mechanical engineering instead of programming. Ah well, might just have to make the switch one day.

Re:Increasingly Irrelevant Anyway (1)

tmq (750235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314218)

In creation of construction documents, AutoCad and Microstation have few serious competitors. Drafts, especially architectural construction or planning documents are routinely 2d, since often there is simply not enough information at early stages to work with 3d. Autodesk also provides BIM (building information modeling) in Architectural Desktop and more fully in Revit, but most architect still stick to 2d cad, for speed and accuracy.

One thing that sets Autocad apart from the competition is its text-driven interface. It's been tricked out with icons and menus in the last decade or so, but drawing in AutoCad is essentially issuing commands. This makes it unbelievably fast for the practiced user. I recently switched to mac, but only because Parallels allows me to run AutoCad on it. Earlier, that had been the deal breaker.

AutoCad, for all its flaws, is hardly irrelevant.

Re:Increasingly Irrelevant Anyway (1)

Gaima (174551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314530)

I was doing 3D parametric modeling in RADAN like 8 years ago. It was so new at the time I was using it for about a month, then when we convinced the boss to get us some training I ended up teaching the trainer!
However, I only used it for about a year before leaving the CAD game.
The company next door were big AutoCAD people (NetWare too), and they were doing stuff in 3D with it.

Format War (1)

Frobozz0 (247160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313810)

While this is clearly not as simple as a format-lockout (as the article's title would suggest), there is a lot of precedent AGAINST AutoCAD. So far as I am aware, no company has EVER succeeded in blocking other people from reverse engineering their file format. Where this deviates is that AutoCAD has extended the file format to include a system of checks and balances. Does that could as a lock out? Can people still use DWG as a common 2D / 3D CAD format exchange but be flagged as "unofficial?" Does this hurt them?

I'm guessing they'll fall flat on their face. Frankly, I hope they do. AutoCAD is a horrible program to use and is terribly outdated. Aside from being first to market, they have nothing going for them.

Re:Format War (4, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314310)

So far as I am aware, no company has EVER succeeded in blocking other people from reverse engineering their file format.

Enter the DMCA, stage right-wing. AutoDESK added basic encryption to the file format starting with AutoCAD 2004. Now, instead of just reverse engineering the protocol, you would have to decrypt it as well. This is now, in the U.S., against the law except for certain conditions. This one, interoperability, may well be one of the conditions, but that will be up to a judge.

And file formats are THE key. This is why Microsoft doesn't provide the full specs on .doc, .xls, .ppt, Project or other file formats. This is why AutoDESK is fighting so hard to keep .DWG closed. Switching to another program, including training your entire user base, is child's play compared to making sure that mountain of existing files you have can still be read and used.

"Function A is under a different menu in OOo Writer than MS Word" and "This function doesn't seem to exist in OOo Calc" are trivial compared to "I can't read this document" and "My formulas don't work any more".

Lock those customers in tight enough, and they'll not only put up with getting screwed, they'll fight for your right to screw them as hard as you want.

Re:Format War (1)

webrunner (108849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314522)

they aren't suing under DMCA in this case though, they're suing under trademark law.

Essentially I think the idea is that there's an Autodesk trademark in genuine autocad files, and creating a file with that trademark isn't allowed.

I could be wrong, but I'm thinking of it like this: Every document is signed at the end "Sincerely, AutoCad". If you make a document and don't sign it "Sincerely, Autocad" it's not a genuine autocad file.

If you DO sign it "Sincerely, Autocad", you're pretending you're AutoCad, and Autocad is a trademark.

It's really quite an ingenious way to get around existing legal allowances.

Re:Format War (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314586)

If AutoCAD succeed in this case then they will be able to ensure that drawings which are both unsigned by AutoCAD and use features from newer versions of AutoCAD (and hence files from a rival) don't render properly in AutoCAD.

If AutoCAD treats it's own documents differently from those of other vendors just because they have been digitally signed then that's an anti-competitive practise.

IANAL but the DMCA covers breaking encryption not adding it to your own documents. i.e. you can make your own region encoded disks AFAIK.

When you can't compete any longer... (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313812)

When you can't compete in the open marketplace any longer, bring in the lawyers. I'd have to say this is a rather tacit admission that other CAD tools are catching up, and at much better prices.

Lawsuits flying the wrong way... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313814)

I think AutoCAD should be just as worried about competitors suing them for keeping their format closed only to maintain their huge market share.

RoboCAD (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313830)

"When I was an engineering student it was on every computer in the college of engineering."

Maybe I'm a little older but does anyone else remember learning CAD on the Apple II using RoboCAD [robosys.com] ?

Formatting Rights? (1)

w33t (978574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313848)

How can there be ownership of a file format?

Isn't that a bit like having ownership of a poem format, Or a literary format?

I can understand owning the rights to the software or mechanism which generates the format - but if another, novel, software or mechanism can be created which generates this same format, is that not legal?

In other words, it makes sense to me to be able to copyright a haiku, but not the format of haiku itself.

I must be missing something vital (and maybe obvious).

People other than schools (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313850)

Still use Autocad anymore? The sheer lockin was one of the reasons our school and a few others moved away from it to Vectorworks.

Maybe they should... (1)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313858)

take a queue from Intergraph. (the fine makers of Microstation, Redline, and In-roads) They have partnered with ODA. I work for an engineering firm and we use alot more software from Intergraph than Autodesk. In fact we only use AutoCadd compared to Microstation 7 & 8, PDS (used for piping), Support Modeler, Iplot, Projectwise, Tri-Forma and a slew of others.

Re:Maybe they should... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17314062)

Correction: All the non-Autodesk products mentioned above are produced by Bentley Systems, not Intergraph. http://www.bentley.com/ [bentley.com]

To the Management at Autodesk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17313880)

...who think this is a viable business model:

You're the man now TrustedDWG!

AutoCAD seem to be dicks (1, Redundant)

LocalH (28506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313894)

Looking at the linked site, I see a link entitled "Open Design Alliance statement on the use of its technology by Autodesk". Following it gives me a page that basically says that Autodesk used their DGNdirect code without authorization, even after being notified.

Re:AutoCAD seem to be dicks (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314404)

Think i asked somebody like that for a key/files to access some linix project sometime ago, they never responded. Thus i found a better way of doing it outside of cad. Interoperability of cad systems was awfull. I'd rather not have to start games of 'will it/wont it open' in other cad system.

This might be a good test case (4, Interesting)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313964)

I believe, that of all things, proprietary document formats should be illegal. If I endeavor to purchase a product to create something for myself, my business, or even someone else, it should not the vendor's choice as to how I must access that document at a later point in time. If I decide that it is no longer feasible to continue using the product (due to licensing, technical, or other considerations), I should be free to access my data with any other software of my choosing. The problem with proprietary formats is that they impose what I see as form ownership by proxy, whereby the owner of the software used to create the document has a sufficient degree of control over the documents themselves.

Say it ain't so (2, Funny)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17313970)

This building you guys got us workin on here, ain't designed by no trusted autodesk product? You can't trust those other designed projects, sometimes things just go wrong on them, the crane pulls something too far and then BOOM! So its like this, we don't move one finger unless it was designed by 100% genuine autodesk products.

version for Linux .. (0, Offtopic)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314002)

According to this Wikipeda [wikipedia.org] article there used to be versions for Unix and Macintosh but was dropped in the 1980s.

To everyone complaining about 2D: (0, Troll)

gregorio (520049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314242)

Autodesk has also 3D products that are not only comparable to SolidWorks, but better at some aspects. One of them is the AutoDesk Inventor line.

So stop BS-ing about 2D, the evolution of CAD, and how AutoDesk is late on "obvious changes" in the market, while talking crap (and trying to look smart while doing it) about SolidWorks and other offers.

Just because you heard about SolidWorks while trying to build an open-source MMORPG, that does not make you a CAD expert.

Re:To everyone complaining about 2D: (1)

gregorio (520049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314270)

BTW: AutoDesk Inventor is also parametric. In fact, Inventor's geometric engine is far superior than SolidWorks engine.

Oh, hell no! (2, Interesting)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314250)

I hope to god Autodesk loose this case. Their DWG / DWF strategy is a complete and utter shambles. We use AutoCAD because there are tons of plug-ins for our industry, it makes it a very good tool for our drawing office.

Unfortunately, while AutoCAD itself works fine on our network, most of their more recent tools do not. It's a minor point of them not supporting folder redirection... Attempts to point Autodesk at Microsoft's developer guidelines have so far fallen on deaf ears, and I've been complaining of this for over a year now.

Thanks to Autodesks stranglehold on DWG, nobody else produces reasonably priced DWG markup tools any more. And that leaves us stuck using old, buggy, unsupported software, purely because it's the most up to date package produced by Autodesk that still runs on our network and can markup these files.

The sooner someone reverse-engineers DWG the better.

PS. Whoever at Autodesk thought the best way to update their DWF viewer was to embed it within IE just wants shooting. Yes, you heard me, they took a stand alone program and decided it would be better off if it relied on IE... They even went to the effort of creating the File menu structure in html! And yes, SP2 broke it...

It hasn't been closed in many years! (2, Informative)

JonathanBrickman0000 (536903) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314290)

It may be that Autodesk has some new version of DWG which is closed, but older versions have been open for many years, as well as DXF. Google on the words autocad compatible [google.com] , and you'll see it.

IntelliCAD [autodsys.com] , the most prominent AutoCAD-compatible code base, is still being worked on, and there are new versions of it which are very low in cost, and at least one which is donation-ware. There are quite a large number of companies developing this code-base now. I'm certain that other products are easier to use, but you can still do truly excellent 3D work using the modern AutoCAD-type GUI and its venerable command-line system, and industry compatibility is tremendously high. And because of the command-line system, its scriptability is excellent.

Download free* student editions of Autodesk soft.. (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314422)

http://students2.autodesk.com/?lbon=1 [autodesk.com]

* FREE products subject to the terms and conditions of the end-user license agreement that accompanies download of the software. Autodesk reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear herein.

   

inspired Rudy Rucker's Hacker and the Ants (3, Informative)

purplelocust (944662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314444)

Autodesk was a market leader and a real Silicon Valley 80s-90s wonder. One of the great things that came out of it, indirectly, was the book "The Hacker and the Ants" by Rudy Rucker [sjsu.edu] which had some obvious inspiration from the time Rucker spent at Autodesk. The CEO at that time John Walker [fourmilab.ch] is a remarkable guy. As a bunch of people have already pointed out, they are long past market relevance (except for legacy lockin issues) so this is sad, but they were at one time quite the acme of geekdom.

Autocad (1)

dlhm (739554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314454)

I have been using Autocad for years, I can say that if there is one company to hate other than Microsoft it would have to be AutoDesk. They are one of the greediest, monopolistic uncaring about quality or customers ,company I have ever seen. If I could change companies or software I would, but I can't, hence the craptastic monoply

death to dwg (1)

navtal (943711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314478)

These guys need a little healthy competition. Strictly speaking from an IT perspective this product is crap. Seriously their patch to a long existing roaming profile problem was to recreate the user preferences every time a user logged on. Witch seems to be indicative of their over all product management. Competition? That would mean they would have to put out better products. Am i being naive?

Oh Noes! (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314548)

Shit! We'll have to compete... what do we do?

innovate?

No, too time consuming.. I got it, SHUT EM DOWN!

-GiH

Old trick, new court (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314580)

It's a trick which has been tried many times before -- make your software not work with other software unless that other software contains your trademark. It usually doesn't work; courts have ruled that if you use your trademark in a functional way like that, you can't use trademark protection. Thus video cards which contained strings like "Some code expects 'IBM' here" (because the BIOS was checking for 'IBM' in a particular location), and similar nonsense.

Of course, throw enough lawyers at enough courts, particularly if your opponents aren't well-funded, and eventually you're likely to get your view accepted.

wish there was decent free CAD (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17314600)

I used AutoCAD R11 (circa 1991) a little and was stunned at how primitive the interface was. In R11 the main screen is a menu of about 9 options that must be selected by typing the number followed by the enter key. To load a file, you might type "3" and "Enter" to get a list of files, page thru that list more style, write down the name of the file wanted (in case your short term memory wasn't quite up to it), go back to the main menu, select "1", then type in the name of the file to load.

I thought such a pathetic interface would be easy to improve on. And here we are years later, and where's a decent GPL CAD program, especailly one with a decent interface? It's not the recently open sourced BRL-CAD -- the interface on that is horrible too.

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