u p F r o n t . e Z i n e
t h e b u s I n e s s o f c a d
Issue #628 | January 12, 2010 | English Edition
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In This Issue
1. Unhappy New Year
2. Autodesk vs SolidWorks Collapses
- Background on DWG Actions
- Autodesk Can't Own DWG
- Autodesk's Attempt to Sidestep the Functional Problem
- Why Autodesk is Desperate to Own DWG
3. Out of the Inbox, and our other regular columns
Unhappy New Year
GM says it just might make a profit in 2010. And just when things look like their turning around, a spate of CAD-related companies and publications fail in the first weeks of the new year:
- drcauto of Australia shut down 31 December after company owner Gary D'Arcy died unexpectedly.
- BunkSpeed stopped selling HyperShot as of 31 December after apparently failing to pay royalties for a year. (They say a replacement renderer in on the way; Luxion will now sell HyperShot.)
- Manufacturing Business Technology magazine folded January 7.
- Cadopolis.com Web store will close February 5. "Unfortunately the US economy really did a number on sales for us this past year and we had to make the hard decision to shut it down. "
Moving to 3D is easier than you think
As you consider the move to 3D, take a look at how easy the switch is.
In a few short minutes you'll learn the secrets of synchronous technology through short demonstrations, customer testimonials, and commentary from Dan Staples, Director of Solid Edge Development. Find out more here!
Or call 800-807-2200
Autodesk vs SolidWorks Collapses
The night before Autodesk's lawsuit against SolidWorks was to go to jury trial in San Francisco, the two sides agreed to drop the suit. According to Evan Yares tweeting from the courtroom, SolidWorks ceo Jeff Ray looked relieved. (The outcome would have been interesting, for Mr Yares reported that one juror was familiar with SolidWorks, three with AutoCAD, and the remaining nine were oblivious to DWG.)
But first some background...
Background on DWG Actions
For several years now, Autodesk has worked on owning DWG as a registered trademark. The problem it faced, however, is that file extensions cannot be trademarked, because they are considered functional -- never mind the history that (1) other software packages used .dwg prior to AutoCAD; (2) that other CAD packages incompatible with AutoCAD use .dwg as a file extension; and (3) Autodesk waited nearly 25 years to attempt to register DWG as a trademark. All three are reasons for the USPTO to reject Autodesk's claim to own .dwg.
As one of its tactics, Autodesk attempted to get the USPTO to cancel the registration of names containing DWG owned by SolidWorks and OpenDesign Alliance. The USPTO so far has blocked Autodesk's attempt.
As another of its tactics, Autodesk took SolidWorks to civil court over DWG naming. The USPTO agreed to suspend the dispute pending the outcome of the jury trial. But Autodesk and SolidWorks agreed to settle. Autodesk, perhaps because it realized it would lose the case, for reasons described below; SolidWorks because it didn't want to be sued in the first place.
As a third tactic, Autodesk has paid off at least one other software company that uses DWG in its product names. softelec agreed to stop using names containing DWG in exchange for an unknown amount of cash.
As a fourth tactic, Autodesk has licensed its DWG API to most major CAD vendors., and states it will sell licenses to anyone.
Autodesk Can't Own DWG
Autodesk cannot own the trifecta of letters d-w-g because it is "functional." Functional means that .dwg performs a function. The function of a three-letter file extension is to identify the content of a file for programs running on the Windows operating system. (File extensions are optional in Unix and its offshoots, such as Mac OS X and Linux, because the content is determined by metadata located at the start of the file. )
For example, .tif tells AutoCAD to attach the file as an uneditable image, while .dwg tells it to open the file as an editable drawing. In contrast, .tif tells PaintShop Pro 6 (the version I still use) to open the file as an editable image, while .dwg tells it to ignore the file.
By definition, a trademark cannot perform a function. The trademark must it exist on its own, its primary purpose being to identify a product. (The courts also recognize a secondary purpose: identifying a broader group of products under one name.)
Autodesk's Attempt to Sidestep the Functional Problem
Because of the functional problem, Autodesk's lawyers split DWG into two tracks; when they attempted to later merge the tracks, however, the judge stopped them.
DWG is used in two ways: (1) as an extension for several incompatible file formats; and (2) as a part of several trademarks, such as DWGgateway, RealDWG, and OpenDWG. Some of these are trademarks of Autodesk, Open Design Alliance, and SolidWorks. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to match trademarks with their owners.)
Since Autodesk knew it could not trademark .dwg, it attempted to trademark DWG -- the split into two tracks. Once the company presumably won DWG in the courts, it would then deal with gaining ownership over .dwg as well. The judge was suspicious of Autodesk's motives. So suspicious that he called Autodesk's circuitous attempt at owning .dwg "monopolistic." He demanded of Autodesk's lawyer that the company allow anyone, anywhere to use .dwg for all time." The lawyer agreed.
The lawyer was a junior, and later a more senior lawyer tried to reverse the promise by adding the condition that use of .dwg was subject to Autodesk's approval. The judge saw through the trickery, and on December 31 issued a memorandum condemning the tactic. The maneuvering was for naught, however, for at just after midnight the day the trial-by-jury was to begin, the two combatants came to an agreement, part of which is secret. The judge was still not satisfied, and made the two sides rewrite portions. It appears that SolidWorks has agreed to no longer use DWG in names, although it certainly can use .dwg in file extensions.
Why Autodesk is Desperate to Own DWG
The following is my speculation: Autodesk wishes to own DWG and .dwg so that it can shut down Open Design Alliance. (A few years ago, Autodesk lowered its DWG API licensing fees to match those of ODA.) With the ODA closed, I speculate, Autodesk gains a monopoly in the DWG API field, it will be able to raise its licensing fees again, and perhaps dramatically.
Out of the Inbox
ManuSoft releases Periscope 5.0 ($30) for Bricscad v9 and 10, displaying information about objects beneath the cursor; includes an API for modifying the data displayed. http://www.manusoft.com/Software/Periscope/Index.stm
MWH Soft updates its H2ONET Generation V9 water distribution engineering (or as they call it, "wet infrastructure modeling") for AutoCAD 2010. http://www.mwhsoft.com
The new Spatial Database add-on in MAPublisher imports ESRI Personal, File, and ArcSDE geodatabase feature classes directly into Adobe Illustrator CS3 and CS4. http://www.avenza.com
Extensible CAD Technologies announces InspectionXpert for Pro/ENGINEER, its software for automatically generating inspection report forms and ballooned inspection drawings. http://www.inspectionxpert.com
Hexagon Metrology releases DataPage+ software for integrating with PC-DMIS measuring software, and will first be available in English and Chinese. http://www.HexagonMetrology.us
Avizo from Visualization Sciences Group uses phase-contrast X-ray imaging to visualize low density materials. http://www.vsg3d.com/vsg_prod_avizo_overview.php
VizTerra 3D landscape design software from Structure Studios can now import AutoCAD drawings directly. http://www.VizTerra.com
And Avatech Solutions gave away $5000 in prizes to winners of its Render Us Speechless contest. http://www.avatech.com/renderingcontest
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These were some of the news items posted during the last week at the WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
- Live blogging the nVidia press conference, remotely
- Onto the next law suit: Vernor vs Autodesk
- Law.com comments on Adsk vs SW outcome
- Apple applies to patent multi-touch viewing and moving of 3D objects
- Ten-fingered touched screen from 3M; next up: ten fingers and ten toes?
- Bricscad Linux goes pre-alpha
- Judge rules Autodesk's anti-"SolidWorks" cartoons A-OK
- Judge agrees that orange rectangles are generic
And at the Gizmos Grabowski weblog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos>:
- Getting the tx1220 running again
- Sleepy USB ports still a problem in 7
- Fixing the 4GB-Installed, 2GB-Usable Problem
- Here's why you cannot trust the cloud
- Why I've given up on iTunes Store
- Successful upgrade to Linux Mint 8
Seminars & Conferences
Bentley Systems' SmartGeometry 2010 Conference is Mar 23-24 in Barcelona, Spain. http://www.SmartGeometryConference.com/2010
People/Companies on the Move
Cedric Desbordes writes to tell us that he left in 2009 his position as chairman of ITC, and now works as an independent consultant (Dilitech)
ITI TranscenData joins Siemens PLM Software's JT Open Program, adding the format to their CAD data translation software, http://www.transcendata.com
Autodesk's first acquisition of the year is Dynamite VSP and SIM visualization software from 3AM Solutions of England. The packages automate visualizations of drawings made in Civil 3D software, but will also be made to work with Autodesk's other software. http://www.autodesk.com/dynamite
Learn Bricscad V10 in a Day
by Ralph Grabowski
200 full-color pages; PDF ebook
Published by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.
(Content is essentially identical to earlier editions; see http://www.upfrontezine.com/lb8)
Best Buy Optimization Is A Big Stupid Annoying Waste Of Money
by Meg Marco
"How NOT To Promote an iPhone App"
by Patrick J
Letters to the Editor
Talking about CAD not going anywhere. I have used Fastcad for many years and the new version coming out soon, V8 is stunning in it's design. It is new programming, and worth a look.
Autodesk recently acquired Robobat (an analysis and FEA system, which was very good). Now that Autodesk has it, it has globbed a few times and now my computer can't handle it. I knew it would happen.
Also I got a rude call from some unknown that the yearly [Robobat] licence had doubled and I had to pay it immediately, even though my old one had not run out yet. I told him to FO. End of another good relationship.
- Fred East
I found the overseas CAD coverage more interesting than I thought. Thanks for that.
Joel Orr says, "move beyond modeling". Clearly, he hasn't been following Siemens, who is doing exactly that. It appears the acquisitions are largely complete now, with the dev teams really starting to sing. Newer NX releases will continue to feature modeling and editing improvements, via Synchronous Technology. (Disclosure as always: I work for a Siemens Var, Acuity, in the Northwest USA.)
However, the bigger news is HD3D, where models and meta-data, and other data can be woven together, presenting the user with not only a geometric representation, but one where it's overlayed, and attribute (color) associated with said data.
A NX user, for example, will be able to ask the system for the current work state status of all parts visible. Red for in progress, blue for released, green for checked in, gold for obsolete. Another variation of this might be to color parts by compliance with a rule based geometry analysis system.
- Doug Dingus
To answer your question about what happened to the 1 million number vs. 130k downloads of CoCreate Personal Edition, there were 130k + downloads but the product has been STARTED over 1M times. We found this to be a significant figure because it indicates the value of the product to the customer, meaning they are actually working with it.
Pure download numbers are not real indicators of the way a product is received by the user. Curiosity, download, trash. We found it interesting to communicate the 1M number to show that the product is valued by the customer and is in use.
- Libby Fink
Thanks for including Dassault’s release of Isight 4.0 in this week’s issue. The implications of this kind of simulation flow automation are huge for FEA, CFD, CAD, you name it -- in terms of speeding up analysis processing time.
- Lynn Manning
I just retired from McNeel and want a long break from thinking about CAD and design. Thanks for your fine work over the years
- Gordon Adams
Spin Doctor of the Moment
The number is likely larger now.
- Yukari Iwatani Kane, Digits
On first reference, use 'retweeted.' On subsequent references, you may use 'RTed,' 'copied,' or 'had nothing original to say'.
- @erinberin on Fake AP Stylebook
Thank You to Our Subscribers & Donators
These great people support upFront.eZine through their contributions of $25 (or more). Thank you, guys!
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- Heather Kernahan-Kenney of Autodesk Manufacturing group (10 subscriptions)
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Entire contents copyright ©2009 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "On your desktop every Tuesday morning" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.