Attorney Steve® - Software Audit Essentials [Synopsis letter].
NOTE: If you received a letter from Orrick or notice of software piracy / infringement, call us at (877) 276-5084.
Another company that might send you a software audit demand letter is Synopsis. According to their website:
"Synopsys is at the forefront of Smart Everything with the world's most advanced technologies for chip design, verification, IP integration, and application security testing and quality testing. We help our customers innovate from silicon to software."
You may receive a letter from their legal counsel Orrick demanding that you cease and desist infringing their software, and also, they may ask for something most other companies do not usually ask for (to forensically examine your computers). Their letter may ask you to disclose all usage details and to deliver any software and keys back to their company. The letter may also inform you that you are required to "preserve all evidence" (evidence preservation letter) which can some times be construed as a threat to litigate the case in federal court.
In fact, I have reviewed the federal court docket and I did notice precedent for them filing a lawsuit.
NOTE: If you get a letter from Synopsis or their law firm, call us before you do anything else. While it may be tempting to want to call them up and try to work things out, a simple admission of fault can be your downfall and lead to huge copyright infringement fines, fees, damages and other actions. We offer an initial no cost review of your case.
Sample allegations in the software infringement lawsuit
If your case is not settled, it could move to an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit (which is also, by the way, public in nature which can hurt future business). Here are some allegations pulled from one federal court lawsuit:
Case 5:19-cv-02082 (Northern District of California)
SYNOPSYS, INC., Plaintiff, v. INNOGRIT, Corp., a Delaware corporation,
and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.
Plaintiff Synopsys, Inc. (“Synopsys”) hereby brings this Complaint against Defendant InnoGrit Corporation (“InnoGrit”) for circumventing technological measures that effectively control access to Synopsys software in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 1201, et seq. (the “DMCA”). Synopsys seeks injunctive relief, statutory and/or actual damages, attorneys' fees and costs, an accounting, and any such other relief as the Court may deem proper.
Plaintiff Synopsys is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business in this judicial district in Mountain View, California.
As modern electronic devices become more and more compact and powerful, they use increasingly sophisticated computer processor chips. When designing a computer processing chip, the stakes are enormous. Chip designers need software that will ensure that their complex designs will work flawlessly. Accordingly, chip designers require extremely robust and powerful computer software to design and test those chips. Many of the world's biggest and most important chip design companies turn to Synopsys for such software. 8. Since it was founded in 1986, Synopsys has been a leading provider of Electronic Design Automation (“EDA”) solutions for the semiconductor industry. EDA generally refers to using computers to design, verify, and simulate the performance of electronic circuits. For more than 30 years, Synopsys' solutions have helped semiconductor manufacturers and electronics companies design, test, and manufacture circuit chips and electronic systems for a wide range of products. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Synopsys is the 15th largest software company in the world and currently employs over 13,000 employees worldwide. Synopsys has developed a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of prototyping, IP, implementation, verification, manufacturing, optical, field-programmable gate array, and software quality and security solutions. 9. Synopsys EDA software applications, including its VCS, Design Compiler, Design Compiler Graphical, DesignWare Library, DC Ultra, Power Compiler, Formality, Verdi, DFT Compiler, Library Compiler, PrimeTime ADV and PX Add-On, HDL Compiler Verilog, and Spyglass Lint (collectively known as “Synopsys Tools”), are creative and original works subject to copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code.
Synopsys does not sell its ownership rights, copyrights or other intellectual property rights to its EDA software and associated services. Instead, Synopsys customers purchase licenses. These licenses grant Synopsys customers limited rights to install Synopsys EDA software and to access and use specific Synopsys software programs subject to control by Synopsys via its license key system, which is a security system that controls access to its licensed software by requiring a user to access an encrypted control code provided by Synopsys in order to execute the licensed software. This encrypted control code is contained in a license key file that specifies the location(s) where the licensed software is authorized to be used and controls certain aspects of the licensed software, including among other items the quantity and term of the licensed software in accordance with the purchased license terms. Synopsys controls access to and use of its license key files through Synopsys' proprietary license server software, which is licensed to customers along with Synopsys' EDA applications.
To protect its valuable intellectual property from copyright infringement and unauthorized access, Synopsys has incorporated into its software technological measures that control access to the software. Synopsys' access controls, in the ordinary course of operation, ensure that Synopsys EDA applications cannot be used without Synopsys license key files. Synopsys is the sole source of legitimate license key files, which it provides only to licensed users of its software. 13. Each customer needs a license key file to execute Synopsys tools. The license key file contains information that allows Synopsys' license key system to determine whether the customer is authorized to execute Synopsys tools. For example, a license key file will list the name of the customer, the customer's address, and identify the software the customer is licensed to use. Importantly, the license key file also contains a site identification (“Site ID”) number. The Site ID is a unique number provided to a customer by Synopsys and refers to the geographic location where Synopsys and the licensee have agreed that Synopsys will deliver the EDA tools.
The Site ID also defines the location or locations where the customer is authorized to use the software. Each customer must provide Synopsys with its physical address and Host ID for the computer(s) that will execute Synopsys license server software for purposes of identifying the Site ID. Each customer is then authorized to use the licensed software solely at the authorized Site ID(s) and in accordance with the terms and conditions provided in the Synopsys license agreement. 14. To generate a license key file, Synopsys requires the customer to provide a unique identifier for a server that will host the license server software – i.e., the server that will authenticate and control the customer's request to check-out and use Synopsys software – referred to as a “Host ID.” The customer provides Synopsys with the Host ID information, which represents the license server for which the license key file is generated. Like the Site ID, the Host ID is listed in the license key file. Before Synopsys can deliver its software to a customer, Synopsys' policies require a unique Host ID(s) to be associated with a single Site ID.
Unbeknownst to Synopsys, on or about May 2017, just months after the EULA specifying use exclusively in Shanghai was signed, InnoGrit began accessing and using EDA tools in the United States without authorization. Specifically, InnoGrit began pirating Synopsys software at InnoGrit's San Jose, California offices. On information and belief, InnoGrit is bypassing Synopsys' license key system by altering identifying information on at least 15 of its computers so that the computers impersonate a designated license server computer in Shanghai to facilitate unauthorized access to and usage of Synopsys Tools. On information and belief, InnoGrit's conduct of circumventing the Synopsys license key access-control system has enabled it to use Synopsys software without authorization many thousands of times. Synopsys is informed and believes that InnoGrit continues to use Synopsys' software without authorization through at least April 2019. 26. InnoGrit knew or had reason to know that its access and use of Synopsys software was unlawful. The fact that InnoGrit knows a license is required to access and operate Synopsys software and nonetheless is intentionally using technological measures to circumvent Synopsys' software access controls shows that InnoGrit understands that it is violating Synopsys' intellectual property rights.
(Violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1201) 27. Synopsys hereby restates and re-alleges the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 26 above and incorporates them by reference. 28. Section 1201(a)(1) provides, in pertinent part, that no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title. 29. Synopsys Tools, including its VCS, Design Compiler, Design Compiler Graphical, DesignWare Library, DC Ultra, Power Compiler, Formality, Verdi, DFT Compiler, Library Compiler, PrimeTime ADV and PX Add-On, HDL Compiler Verilog, and Spyglass Lint software, are works owned by Plaintiff Synopsys, Inc. and protected by the Copyright Act. Access to Synopsys Tools, including its VCS, Design Compiler, Design Compiler Graphical, DesignWare Library, DC Ultra, Power Compiler, Formality, Verdi, DFT Compiler, Library Compiler, PrimeTime ADV and PX Add-On, HDL Compiler Verilog, and Spyglass Lint software, is controlled by technological measures that effectively control access to Synopsys Tools. 31. Defendants altered identifying information on their computers and servers located in California in order to circumvent Synopsys' access control license key protections, thereby gaining unauthorized access to Synopsys Tools. 32. The conduct described above has harmed Synopsys in an amount to be computed at trial and constitutes violations of 17 U.S.C. § 1201. 33. The conduct described above was willful and done with knowledge of wrongdoing. 34. Accordingly, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 1203, Plaintiff Synopsys, Inc. is entitled to and hereby demands statutory and/or actual damages in the maximum amount for each of the violations of the statute. 35. Plaintiff Synopsys, Inc. is further entitled to an award of attorneys' fees and costs as provided under 17 U.S.C. § 1203. 36. Defendants' conduct, unless enjoined and restrained by the Court, will cause irreparable harm to Synopsys, which has no adequate remedy at law. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 1203, Plaintiff Synopsys, Inc. is entitled to a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting further violations of § 1201. PRA
Contact a Copyright DMCA defense lawyer
If you received a software audit demand letter, served a subpoena or a summons and complaint or received a cease and desist letter, don't go it alone, this is the time to lawyer-up. Most of the time the accusing party will have experienced copyright lawyers on their team (it is not atypical to have 3-5 lawyers and staff assigned to one infringement case - this can also drive up the legal fees).
With liability that can reach to the officers and directors of a company, these matters are not something to take lightly. We are a leader in handling software defense in the United States. These cases are typically brought under the United States Copyright Act.
You can reach us at (877) 276-5084 or email us through our contact form.
We have appeared in over 200 Federal Court cases and were recently identified as the #1 Copyright infringement defense law firm in the nation for the year 2020 (by Unicourt.com) in terms of number of cases handled. In the niche area of software copyright and DMCA law (illegal access circumvention cases) there is no substitute for experience.