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Autodesk has "phone-home" technology, make sure you are you in full compliance to avoid audits?

Posted by Steve Vondran | May 07, 2020 | 0 Comments

Attorney Steve® - 2020 Autodesk Audit Updates

Autodesk phone home compliance

  

Introduction

It was of those not-so-fun things people always remember - getting a software audit letter from a law firm out of the blue.  Not understanding why you received the letter, and not knowing if it is real (a good percentage of my software clients tell me they thought it was a scam and was going to throw the letter away), and wondering if you actually need to comply with their demands or not.  Well, since I am writing this post you probably know that the letters are true (but make sure to double-check as we know offshore legal scams exist), but we do handle a large number of software audit cases.  This blog is to provide you with updates on what we are seeing in the Autodesk audit trenches.

EULA Audits (aka "Contractual Audits")

We are now hearing (not to say it has not been asserted before), with more frequency, that Autodesk - the maker of AutoCAD, Revit, AEC Collection, Fusion 360, Inventor, Maya and other products is conducting "EULA Audit."  What is a EULA Audit?  It is based on something you signed or agreed to (usually by clicking "I agree") when you signed up for an Autodesk software subscription online.  The EULA stands for End User License Agreement.  For example, your company might have received a letter asking you to participate in an audit.  The letter may be from Autodesk itself or a law firm on their behalf (see below).  The letter may suggest your company is suspected of using unlicensed installations of their software, and that they are asking you to submit to an audit (aka "contractual audit").  If you get this letter (or an email) YOUR BEST BET IS TO CONTACT US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.  DO NOT CONTACT THEM WITHOUT KNOWING WHERE YOU STAND. WE OFFER LOW, FLAT RATE LEGAL SERVICES TO GET THIS PROBLEM OFF YOUR HANDS.

An email request may go something like this:

Dear Customer

During a routine review of your use of Autodesk software, we found a potential problem and need you to resolve it immediately to avoid further action.
 
According to our records, the following product(s) being used in your organization were activated with a nonvalid serial number.
 
 
Use of Nonvalid Serial Numbers
Nonvalid Serial Number
Product
Version
No. Installations
125-11111111
Civil 3D
2018
3
125-11111111
Revit
2017
2
 
To resolve this issue and ensure your account remains in good standing, you will need to purchase 3-year subscription license(s) of the products listed in the table to replace all nonvalid licenses.  You may do this by purchasing via the Autodesk Store.  Once your purchase is complete, please email me your order confirmation or invoice as proof of purchase.
 
You must take action immediately. As soon as you have uninstalled and destroyed the nonvalid license(s), replaced them with genuine Autodesk software and provided proof of purchase, we will consider this matter closed.
  
If you believe that a mistake has been made or have questions about how this may have happened please reply to this email.
 
You can also learn more by reviewing our frequently asked questions or visiting www.autodesk.com/genuine.
 
This letter may be offering you a "true-up" opportunity, but what if they find out you are short on multiple products going back multiple years?  What if you try to make ONE purchase of a three year Revit (using the example above), but they think you should be buying 5 Revits?   Will you still get a release of all claims?  Will you get a written release of all claims that releases both the companies and its officers and directors (who can also be held liable in copyright infringement actions)?
 

Good reasons to hire Software Compliance Legal Counsel

What if, due to Covid-19 virus (aka CoronaVirus), for example, your company does not have the funds to BUY IMMEDIATELY as they say?  Will Autodesk agree to a CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT of the case, or might they, for example, post a press-release stating "we just settled with Andy's Architect & Engineering who was pirating our software?"
 
These are some of the reasons you may want to hire software copyright legal counsel to assist you.  Again, we make this extremely affordable to handle, and we have helped many companies, both large and small over the years.  We have a TON of software audit videos on YouTube should you want more information.  We are near 20,000 subscribers to our popular legal channel.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE!!!


Phone-home technology

We have also recently confirmed that Autodesk does use some type of "phone-home" technology to monitor and detect software compliance / piracy.  This is set forth in their EULA's and you might have seen something like this when you signed up for your last AutoCAD® software subscription:

"We would like to inform that Autodesk collects information about you in order to deliver products, services and support to our customers. We collect identifying information, like your name, email, phone number, city and country.  We also collect information about your use of our applications including which products you use, when, and how you use them. Autodesk uses all of this information to support our legitimate interest in improving your experience and building better applications, as well as to pursue our legitimate interest in preventing and reducing fraud and software piracy."

Check your EULA for more information.

Resources

Here are two general links to the agreements that may be helpful.

https://www.autodesk.com/company/terms-of-use/en/general-terms

(look at 21.5)

https://www.autodesk.com/company/legal-notices-trademarks/software-license-agreements-legacy

(depending upon the product installed, you can pull the agreement…but usually, section 9.7)

Did you get a letter from Donahue Fitzgerald or Weir-Johnson?

These are two law firms who help Autodesk protect and enforce their intellectual property rights.  We have handled many cases over the years with both of these firms.  Our job is to protect the interests of small business owners and to get the lowest settlement possible with a confidential release of all claims. This is not always as easy as it sounds, and software settlement negotiations can become very contentious, although I would like to see we have a professional working relationship. 

Call us if you received a letter, telephone call (I would immediately hang up), or an internal compliance email.  Again, we are the proven leader in Autodesk software licensing disputes and offer very attractive flat rate legal fees so you do not get a surprise legal bill once your case is over.

One more important tip - make sure you are purchasing software from VALID AUTODESK RESELLERS (you can check on authorized Autodesk Partners here).  Problems can also arise buy buying "cheap" or counterfeit software online, or downloading invalid software through use of BitTorrent protocols, and by posting job ads or LinkedIn pages explaining your CAD experience, for example, but not having any company licensed legitimate copies.  Informants (especially disgruntled ex-employees can sometimes also turn you in and "nail their boss" as some call it, and these complaints can be made to Autodesk directly, or the Business Software Alliance (trade organization that handles many Microsoft audits, along with KPMG).

Contact a CAD software compliance lawyer

If you need help and received a letter, phone call or email call us for more information at (877) 276-5084 or shoot us an email through our contact form.  Most business owners (and even in-house counsel) feel much better when turning their case over to a software audit professional firm.  We have been in business since 2014 and have excellent client reviews and have appeared in nearly 200 federal court cases.  In this area of law, there is simply no substitute for experience.
 
We can help with disputes with BSA, SIIA, Autodesk, Adobe, Solidworks, Siemens, Microsoft, Vero software, VB conversion and others.
 
 
 
 

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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