We are a premier Software Licensing, Compliance and Dispute Resolution Law Firm in the United States. It is likely we have handled more software compliance matters that any other IP law firm in the United States. This includes cases involving Microsoft, The Business Software Alliance, Siemens, Vero, Autodesk, Solidworks and other software companies. We offer low flat rate (predictable) non-billable hours for most non-litigation cases. Call us at (877) 276-5084.
2022 Software License Compliance Updates
BSA has literally disappeared from the scene for the last two years. We don't know why. This means many Microsoft "Office Piracy" cases have not been pursued. It is not clear if they will ever fire up the engines again, so that is an unknown. Solidworks has become much more aggressive in 2022 and has filed a few copyright infringement lawsuits against officers and directors. Autodesk continues to run both internal audits (they tell us some are "random" based on the EULA terms), and settlement demands have been high. Vero software is also in the running enforcing piracy of its Alphacam, and Cabinet vision products. We have helped many architects and engineering firms, design firms, and general machine shops respond, defend and settle the investigations, usually with a confidential settlement of all claims.
2021 Software Audit Updates
This year, apparently due to the global health crises, The Business Software Alliance ("BSA") was virtually nowhere to be found. It appears they may have closed up their shop - at least for the meantime. Other companies continue to run hot including Siemens, Vero, Solidworks/Dassault, and Autodesk. Our firm has helped many small to mid-size companies deal with random, contractual, and "informant-based" audits in 2021. Siemens even filed a large lawsuit in Texas federal court.
2020 Autodesk Audit Updates
Our Software IP law firm is cranking out the settlements again this year. Covid-19 has NOT stopped Autodesk from pursuing copyright infringement cases against both small and large architects, engineers, and designers. Companies are getting busted for a variety of reasons (informants, posting job ads on Indeed or other sites touting "AutoCAD or Revit" skills when no license exists, LinkedIn profile pages that do the same, using student version of the software commercially, having contractors knowingly using unlicensed software and downloading cracked software for examples). Autodesk can be very aggressive when it comes to seeking a settlement, which will likely include infringement penalties and attorney fees.
There have also been some recent issues with Revit software on the architectural side of the software, where paying clients are upset about fee structures and the actual development of features for the program. In all, it has been another great year of progress, and working hard to secure licensing for our clients and seeking to achieve fair and reasonable settlements given the Coronavirus and financial challenges many firms are facing. If you received a letter, call us at (877) 276-5084.
Hope everyone is safe, and don't forget to check out our popular legal channel - we are closing in on 25,000 subscribers and nearly three million video views! Some people have called me the "hardest working attorney in America." Some have even claimed to have watched "every one of your videos." Stay Safe!
Sample settlement victories
We are an experienced software audit defense law firm. We have helped many companies from across the United States save their businesses from bankruptcy, limit their legal exposure, avoid director and officer copyright infringement liability and reach settlement agreements that make sense. In some cases, where the facts are warranted, we fight for a “TAKE-NOTHING” result (note this is more on the rare side, but it does happen from time to time.
This page highlights some of our successes in this area of law. Keep in mind, that past results are no guarantee of future performance or future settlements and we cannot guarantee any particular outcome in any case. That being said, here are some of our victories!
IMPORTANT GUIDE: Make sure you download our popular Software Audit Checklist which is a starting point for any business that has received an audit demand letter and is wondering how to respond.
Visit our Software Audit and BSA defense lawyer page!
As a preliminary matter, if you need basic information about what you can expect from a software audit, go to our resource center that discusses our software licensing defense strategies. We offer the state-of-the-art defense page and we are aware of no other firm that provides the sheer volume of blogs, videos, podcasts, and sample legal documents (such as a confidentiality agreement) that can help you win your case. We are also the only firm that we are aware that has published a “self-help” guide that provides general tips on whether or not a company should handle their audit without a lawyer. Our passion and dedication to our clients are thus unmatched.
Sample of Autodesk, SIIA, and BSA software settlements.
The following are a sample of some of the settlements we have been able to reach for our business clients in cases involving the Business Software Alliance Vero, Siemens, VB Conversions, and Autodesk. These are sample cases only and past performance is no guarantee or prediction in your case. No guarantees are made. Every case is worked hard, using the facts of the case and available defenses against willful copyright infringement, and often threat of officer and director liability that can surface in these software licensing shortage cases. For more information, call us at (877) 276-5084.
SAMPLE SETTLEMENT RESULTS
- Settled a contentious case involving threats of copyright infringement for $21,802 for an architecture firm.
- West Coast graphic design company was alleged to be a software pirate and a $340,000 demand was made. We were able to prove there were no lawful grounds for the infringement claim and we negotiated a case dismissal with no out-of-pocket payment to the company based on a legitimate defense to software infringement.
- Settled a case with Architecture Firm for $8,183 despite demands exceeding that amount.
- Autodesk software settlement for $10,000 following a 30k+ demand.
- Negotiated a $12,500 settlement for a high-tech media firm. Initial demands were at $26,441.
- Settled case with the large software trade association for just over 25k (starting offer was over 520K). The contentious case included threats of a “software raid” on the company and the filing of a federal copyright lawsuit.
- Settled case for hi-tech graphics company at 50% of a settlement demand.
- Represented architect firm with minor infringement and demand in excess of $30,000. Case settled less than 1/3 of that amount.
- Settled Autodesk infringement case at 1x multiplier (not the typical 3 or 4 times MSRP damages some law firms will just cave in to)
- Challenged a company purporting to be a “compliance firm” on grounds of legal authority to act on behalf of the software publisher, and demanded a copy of the license agreement forcing a TAKE NOTHING case.
- The client was charged with infringing copyrighted products by purchasing invalid software over the internet. We argued the software publisher had no legal rights as the Client paid fair market value believing it was purchasing the valid legal title to the software from what appeared to be an agent of the software company (ostensible agent). The copyright bully was demanding over $80,000. The final settlement “TAKE NOTHING.”
- The client received a sample lawsuit along with a demand letter (intimidating our Client to no end). We dug into the case, raised our defenses and have not heard back from the company. This was another case based upon software purchased online, which is becoming a bigger problem with all the website selling “cheap” or “discounted” software. Sometimes it appears the website is the “ostensible agent” of the software company and I argue THEY SHOULD BE GOING AFTER THEM AND NOT YOU.
- A large mortgage lending company was charged with massive amounts of copyright infringement and software theft. Monetary demands from software trade association exceeded $200,000. At issue were claims of a large number of unlicensed Microsoft Office products. The software was installed by the alleged information and following claims of extortion, aiding, and abetting corporate sabotage, the case was eventually dropped after extensive negotiation. A huge win that saved the company. Zero payout.
- The client received a letter directly from the counsel for one of the major software trade groups. The letter demanded payment for infringed software that was purchased on eBay. Client purchased what he believed to be a valid license from a valid internet retail website. He was not aware of any licensing restrictions, and thus had no reason to believe that he had pirated software. After negotiations ensued, the case was DROPPED! This is a common occurrence when OEM software is purchased over the internet. Save your receipts. Make sure the website is valid. Some legal issues can arise as to whether you obtained a valid license or not. Keep in mind if you are SELLING software online, the software trade orgs may also use “undercover software cops” to try to trap you into an infringement.
- Software companies made a demand for over $80,000 claiming illegal download and use of programs. We disputed this challenging their policing of online vendors. Case closed with a “TAKE NOTHING.”
- Autodesk audit involved multiple unlicensed copies. Settlement demand was reduced by over $10,000.
- Autodesk audit letter – after explaining the situation audit demand was withdrawn and the case closed.
- Software Audit of custom pool enclosures company. Autodesk Investigation closed with a “TAKE NOTHING.”
- Vero Software Audit results in a settlement under $8,000.
- Helped client complete a SAM license verification audit, closing out all legal liability for copyright infringement.
- The settled case where software was purchased after receiving the audit demand letter. Serious pressure was put on the client and we were able to get the case settled without a lawsuit being filed in federal court. Plus, in this case, an offer for a FREE one-year Autodesk AEC collection was offered.
- Settled an Autodesk case involving Architecture firm “post-letter purchases” of Autocad for a significant reduction over the initial offer to settle.
- Settled case with major software compliance association for nearly half of amount demanded.
- A settled case involving illegal OEM purchased on the internet for a fair and reasonable amount giving credit for the amount paid.
- Able to reach settlement terms on a large piracy case involving an organization with NO proof of any software licensing.
- Settled SOLIDWORKS software audit with a TAKE NOTHING.
- Heated negotiations started at $49,000. After showing significant mitigating factors, reached an agreement in the 11k range.
- Settled a fairly large architect software case for 1X multiplier after extensive negotiations with Autodesk.
- Hired to represent a client after the initial offer was received. The case was resolved to save the client $285,000 over the initial offer.
This is just a sample list, we have many other cases (over 250 settled cases), references, and reviews available upon request. We have a slew of recent victories not reported above.
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Important software compliance videos to watch
If you received a letter from Autodesk re AutoCad infringement watch this:
If you received a letter from the Business Software Alliance watch this
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Should our company hire software counsel to handle our case or just do it ourselves?
PODCAST: Listen to Attorney Steve explain this topic on our Vondran Legal Hour podcast.
As we tell all of our clients when your company is involved in a software audit with big software publishers such as IBM, Microsoft, Adobe, Bentley, Rosetta Stone, Apple, Ansys, Autodesk, and their trade organizations (BSA, SIIA) you are usually in for a good fight. Many clients think if I just call up and be nice we can hopefully settle this case out real quick, and hopefully, they will keep it quiet.
While this might sounds nice if it actually worked that way, in reality, many officers and directors fail to understand the various steps and phases that most of these cases take. Your time is better spent focusing on your highest and best use (i.e. making money doing what you do best), which probably does not involve dealing with intellectual property lawyers who are paid and trained to negotiate the highest settlement possible.
Respectfully, we like to inform our clients (and sometimes they find out on their own) that you are dealing with some very “shark-like” aggressive IP collection attorneys who really do not care if your business buys some software and pirates others. They want the high settlement possible.
Some of the things we can do, which are highly unlikely your company will be able to do (even with its own in-house counsel) are the following:
Here are some of the services we may provide in your case depending upon the facts of the case:
- Evaluate your legal exposure;
- Review potential officer and director liability;
- Seek an FRE 408 confidentiality agreement during the course of the representation;
- Review available software infringement defenses and strategies;
- Help review and analyze your audit results;
- Review legal issues involving unscrupulous “informants” who are out to destroy your company;
- Discuss the possibility of filing a Declaratory Judgment action for totally bogus shakedowns, bullies, and extortion attempts;
- Negotiate settlement agreement (often 5-15 pages or more) including limiting follow up procedures, audits, and addressing privacy and confidentiality issues
Fill out the contact form below to discuss other defenses to software audits that might apply.
How do you calculate damages in a software audit case?
VIDEO: Important video on potential damages your company - and its officers and directors can face (personally) for pirating software such as Windows, Office, AutoCAD, Revit, Maya, Surfcam, Alphacam, Cabinetvision, and others.
This is always one of the most important cases – “what is this audit going to cost us?” For some companies and 50k to 100k settlement would literally bankrupt them. We fight hard to avoid this harsh result. The main thing to bear in mind, at least from my perspective, is the greater the appearance of a company being a “copyright pirate” the greater the BSA, SIIA or Autodesk lawyers will push for a higher settlement amount, higher legal fees, and the like. They will go for a 3-5 times multiplier (and sometimes we will even see some totally outrageous demands, for example, demand for 500k).
In general, we believe and have seen in our audits that many companies are NOT SOFTWARE PIRATES and their businesses do not need to be threatened with lawsuits or raids on their businesses or making threats that each officer and director of the company will be held jointly and severally liable for the losses.
Many companies have legitimate reasons for having licensing shortages such as:
- Cannot find the receipts (losing receipts is not against the law);
- “Informant” (could be a current or ex-employee, contractor, IT guy, etc.) tried to sabotage the company and installed the software with the motivation to retaliate and seek a monetary reward; [click here for information on suing the informant]
- An outside contractor installed the software (the “career informant”);
- The merger caused confusion around the office (failure to exercise due diligence in the merger process to address whether all software was licensed and whether all Microsoft CAL licenses (windows and exchange CAL”s and RDS CAL'S, SQL licenses, etc.).
- Rapid company growth created an inadvertent series of software installs that were not properly tracked.
- Employees purchasing and installing software inadvertently, for example, student versions of software, trial versions, or possibly goofing around with a “crack code”
Of course, there are other reasons and we have discussed some of these on other blogs and on our Vondran Legal Hour podcast.
Intellectual property law firms we have dealt with
Here is a list of some of the firms we have dealt with for both Autodesk and Business Software Alliance compliance audits:
- Donahue-Fitzgerald, LLP
- The Venable
- Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld
- Troutman Sanders, LLP
- Warner Law Group
- Saul Ewing
- Wiley Rein
- FDK Law
- Flyer & Flyer
- Harness IP
If you received a letter from one of these law firms or another, contact us below to discuss your case BEFORE YOU TALK TO THEM. These are serious IP law firms and they mean business. We have discussed in other blogs the importance of not talking to the BSA without copyright counsel representing you.
Why is Vondran Legal better than the competition?
Here are some of the reasons we believe we are the best Autodesk and BSA defense law firm in the United States:
- We get results and have a track record of success;
- We are passionate about what we do;
- We don't give you some car salesman talk that other firms might do (putting several attorneys on the phone to scare you into signing a retainer agreement);
- We don't charge BILLABLE HOUR fees which will mount up fast and likely result in STAGGERING legal bills (DO NOT PAY $20,000 to hire an IP law firm);
- We are able to offer LOW flat rate fees due to our experience and efficiencies of the process;
- Unlike some of our other competitors, we don't look to drag your case on for 9 months to a year, as we hear some rookie law firms have done (usually on an expensive billable fee basis);
- Our customer service and responsiveness cannot be beaten - unlike other attorneys, we call you back or email you back;
- Unlike some of our competitors, our IP copyright firm is comprised of an attorney with SERIOUS state and federal court litigation (having appeared in over 250 state and federal litigation cases). Does the IP law firm you are considering hiring have BONA FIDE PROOF of federal court experience? [here is the federal court experience for Attorney Steve Vondran]. Because we know the federal courts, we are not SCARED when the opposing lawyers start threatening us with federal copyright lawsuits. The BSA, SIIA, and Autodesk lawyers can look us up the same as you can on the Pacer system and verify that the software audit lawyer at our firm is "battle-tested" and we are not afraid to go to court if necessary to protect your interests.
- As litigators, we know how to FIGHT FOR YOU AND NEGOTIATE (as opposed to rolling over and taking the first offer so to speak). We fight to get you the best deal possible in your case.
- We know the "tricks" and traps of organizations like Autodesk and the Business Software Alliance (located in Washington D.C.) and have tons of experience in handling software negotiations and settlements. In this area of law, there is no substitute for experienced software counsel, and many times we get referrals from other lawyers, for example, corporate counsel and we are able to work effectively with them to resolve a serious legal matter.
For more information, contact us below.
Once you call and weigh your options we believe you will choose Vondran Legal and we look forward to serving your company, whether large or small, and wherever located in the United States as these cases are federal copyright infringement matters that can lead to a publicly embarrassing federal court lawsuit.
Free initial software audit defense strategy session!
To discuss your case in confidence or to get us retained call us at (877) 276-5084 or email us through our contact form to have a copyright attorney contact you, normally within the hour.
It is helpful if you fax/scan us a copy of the letter you received from the software company or their representatives in advance.
Please note, that our firm is a leader in software licensing compliance and dispute resolution.
We have handled hundreds of cases with powerhouse software publishers and trade associations such as SIIA, Adobe, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero Software, Solidworks, Microsoft (ex. SPLA audits), VB Conversion, and other publishers.
We have been in business since 2004 and have excellent client reviews.
Also, make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our popular legal video channel with over 35,000 subscribers and over three million videos views. If you use the search bar you will be able to watch a wide variety of software and copyright-related videos that will help you better understand the compliance and settlement process.