UPDATE: I have done further searching, and it appears as if the prices that Siemens PLM is asking for is shockingly accurate. They appear to be asking from John Doe Defendants the cost of 1-2 business licenses for their NX software, which can be as high as $30,000 per license. So while for an average internet user spending $30,000 on a piece of software would be obscene, apparently this is what people are paying for this software. This does not mean that there is no room for negotiation — circumstances as to whether or how the use happened differs for every defendant, and every John Doe Defendant has a different financial situation and personal circumstances.
It usually makes no sense writing about cases once they have progressed quite a bit, but with the Siemens PLM cases, Siemens has ramped up their sales tactics in a way which needs some explaining.
Recent letters that have gone out from Andrew Bluebond of Reed Smith LLP are asking for numbers in excess of “$50,000, plus any applicable sales taxes, legal fees and expenses, to license [to accused defendant]” (emphasis added). Thus, a Siemens settlement could end up being $55,000 – $60,000 (or more) just for using the software without a license.
I have not yet figured out how they have come to this large number, because each defendant only has a limited number of “infringing uses” of Siemens PLM’s NX software.
WHY HIRING AN ATTORNEY AT THIS LATE STAGE OF THE LAWSUIT IS A GOOD IDEA.
Initially, I stopped taking clients for this case in February, but because no doubt people are being hit with these high numbers (this was an unexpected turn for Siemens), it makes sense to have us represent you to negotiate a settlement price this high down to something that is in more of a “fair” price range. And yes, I am willing to take on a limited number of new clients simply because Siemens is suing in my state, and I can easily appear and represent clients in the Texas Southern District Court should negotiations go awry. Also, I am already spending the time to research the cases and review the evidence they have against each John Doe Defendant, so I have already done much of the legwork (which you will not need to pay me for).
It also must be noted that at this price point, it simply makes sense to fight the case in court (especially if you did not use the software). But before you panic about the $50,000 settlement letter you received, understand what is likely going on.
HOW SIEMENS PLM SALES TACTICS MIMIC THOSE OF SELLING AN EXPENSIVE SUIT.
When you go to purchase a $300 suit, the salesperson will always show you the $2,000 suit first. Then, he’ll show you an $1,800 suit that is obviously not nearly as nice as the $2,000 suit. Then, he’ll show you a $1,000 suit that looks even less pleasing than the more expensive suits. You begin to doubt whether a $500 suit will even give you the quality you thought you wanted. But then… poof! The salesperson finds a $500 suit, “in the back, that we just got in stock,” and that $500 suit is more beautiful than any of the other more expensive suits. Excited that you are getting a good ‘deal’, you proceed to purchase the $500 suit, and while you are at it, you purchase a belt, buckles, an expensive tie and shirt, and spend another $300 in accessories and alterations. In sum, you walk out of the store having spent $800, but you feel like a million bucks.
Obviously there is ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION between buying a suit and being hit in the face with a $150,000 copyright infringement lawsuit for tinkering with software that is being shared on the piracy bittorrent websites, supposedly for free (and what company monitors and sues on the piracy and unlawful USE of that software, anyway). But there is something to say of this tactic. No doubt if you end up paying $7,500 for their base software after being initially asked for $50,000, you’ll think you are getting a great ‘deal’.
WHAT IS THE TRUE RETAIL PRICE OF SIEMENS PLM SOFTWARE?
I mentioned $7,500 as the guesstimate of the base price for the Siemens software, and really, I do not know what the base price actually is. I have seen websites advertise the sale of that software from $7,500 – $12,500. I have also seen ‘less credible’ sell ‘valid’ licenses for $2,500, so who really knows.
UPDATE: Siemens PLM business licenses (“seats”) can easily cost $30,000+ for each license. There are various levels, e.g., Mach 1, Mach 2, Mach 3, and Mach 4, and the higher-level business licenses mirror the amount they are asking for from John Doe Defendants in their lawsuits, “in order to turn infringing users into genuine customers.”
As my general understanding goes (from speaking to various individuals at Siemens), Siemens NX software ranges in price from $7,500 – over $20,000 depending on the various modules, licenses, or versions you are purchasing. And, business licenses are significantly more expensive than student licenses, which can be purchased for $99 (and on those student licenses, the receipt will often say, “you just saved yourself $9,999 on this software!” which suggests that the software itself costs over $10,000.
Most “John Doe” Defendants are being accused of using a pirated copy of the “NX Mach 3 Product Design” software. You MUST assume that any Siemens PLM software is being similarly tracked; the list of software owned / provided by Siemens can be found at http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/
SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY AT THIS LATE STAGE OF THE LAWSUIT?
At this point, three methods of handling your lawsuit are flowing through your mind.
1) Paying the $60K and taking the hit (likely a bad move because I believe this price can be negotiated).
2) Ignoring this (who gets named and served anyway?) and risking the $150,000 judgment. After you, you think you can’t pay $60K, so you can’t pay $150K either. You’ll just take the loss and file for bankruptcy. (Again, bad move because you would have exacerbated the situation. Even if you are named and served as a defendant, it is not too late. There are still ways to salvage the case and get you out of this, minimizing the damage to you).
3) Maybe you can hire an attorney, and he can negotiate this down to something that you feel comfortable paying. And if not, at the very minimum, he can represent you in court with the best result of getting you dismissed from the lawsuit, and the alternative goal of forcing a lower settlement amount. Realistically, your attorney can speak to your plaintiff attorney and negotiate a price that you can pay, or at a minimum come to some resolution to satisfy Siemens PLM’s claims against you.
So in sum, there are two BAD options, and two GOOD options. The two BAD options are 1) PAY THE ASKING PRICE, 2) IGNORING THE LAWSUIT COMPLETELY. The two GOOD options are either 1) hiring an attorney to NEGOTIATE YOUR SETTLEMENT, and 2) (if settling is not an option, OR if you simply did not do what Siemens claims you did), have that same attorney FIGHT THE LAWSUIT and minimize the damages, or get you dismissed altogether without paying any settlement.
CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.
NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together. That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.
LIST OF ACTIVE SIEMENS PLM CASES
(as of 3/12/2017)
Cases Filed in the Texas Southern District Court:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 4:16-cv-03552)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 4:16-cv-01422)