Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Piracy Lawsuit

What to do about the Siemens PLM Software v. Does case (TX).

This is one of the more difficult blog entries to write, because the “Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc.” case is not the typical bittorrent extortion case, but rather, more of a “compulsory licensing” case.

In short, it would be too easy to say that the 100 John Doe defendants were implicated as downloading or uploading Siemens’ CAD software using bittorrent, because this is not the case. Siemens’ software appears to “phone home” when being used, revealing the computer users IP address (thus making them a target in a lawsuit such as this one).

Cracks and keys probably were part of the software download package, if the software was downloaded via a website. Alternatively, the download instructions perhaps instructed “to block the internet connection using a software firewall,” but the downloader forgot to read the instructions.

Lastly, some of the defendants are believed to have purchased the software (e.g., while the software license itself could cost $20,000, the pirated copy cost $50), but the software they purchased was pirated. Thus, when they entered the key to register the software, the key was flagged as being a pirated copy.

In short, Siemens is a software company looking to stop the unlicensed use of their software, and for this reason, they hired attorney Robert Riddle (more accurately, his firm) to file the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-100 (Case No. 4:16-cv-01422) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The weird part for me about this case is that there are so many software solutions out there which would accomplish the result for significantly cheaper.  The Siemens software modules appear to be commercial and high-end, which is more than a typical engineer would need to do their work.

So… what to do now. If you purchased a pirated copy or downloaded an unlicensed copy of the software, all is not lost. This is why you will be hiring an attorney — to speak to your plaintiff attorney and “make it right,” whether that means purchasing a copy after-the-fact, or signing a licensing agreement for the months or years the software was in use.

If you are a business owner, or if the software is in use in your engineering company (or on the laptops of your employees) without authorization, you are the plaintiff’s prime targets, and the licensing strategy will likely be more comprehensive.

If you have absolutely nothing to do with this lawsuit and yet you were implicated as a John Doe Defendant, well, this happens too, and I’d be happy to represent you telling them that there will be no software licensing deal, and that there will be no payment to the plaintiff copyright holders.

The immediate concern is that like all copyright infringement “John Doe” lawsuits, your plaintiff copyright holder has been given permission by a federal judge (here, Texas Judge Keith Ellison) to issue subpoenas to the internet service providers to hand over the subscriber contact information to the plaintiff attorney by or before a certain date.  That date is quickly coming to a close, so this is why you have been trying to contact our firm to figure out your options in how to proceed.  I’d be happy to discuss these with you, obviously time permitting.

OTHER ARTICLES ON THE SIEMENS PLM SOFTWARE CASES:

How an attorney should handle a Siemens PLM Software, Inc. lawsuit, on 1/11/2017.

Siemens PLM NX-based lawsuits – converting accused engineers into loyal customers, on 1/9/2017.

Software Developers are now tracking piracy through the USE of downloaded software, on 9/9/2016.

Siemens Software Case IS a Bittorrent Case, on 6/20/2016.

What to do about the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does case (TX), on 1/16/2016.


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3 thoughts on “What to do about the Siemens PLM Software v. Does case (TX).”

  1. As you probably know Siemens is a major global industrial company based in Germany with $75 billion in annual revenues. They are not particularly likely to be trolling for a few more bucks. I don’t know what their PLM software is used for but it appears to be a a fairly wide range of products, so I can’t comment on why people might be using it without authorization..

    1. As far as it has been explained to me, the software has a number of modules. Students are given the opportunity to purchase and use the software through an authorized vendor at a greatly discounted rate. It is likely someone who used the software was not aware of the lower-cost alternatives. This is all “company line” talk; my only concern is that some internet user came to a place they didn’t expect to come to, and now they are being threatened with a copyright infringement claim. Now they need me [or another with my skillset] to get them out of this (without paying based on the evidence, or via negotiating some reasonable licensing fee).

      I know I am answering more than you asked, but I’m really treating this as a brick-and-mortar copyright infringement lawsuit, and if we’ll need to settle, it will likely resemble a business transaction (a software license) rather than a settlement agreement. I understand that Siemens is taking great pains to “not” look like a copyright troll, even though they are still “monetizing their intellectual property” using the federal courts as a weapon (which is the classic definition of what a “copyright troll” does).

      To answer your question, people are using the software without authorization BECAUSE THEY CAN. Most people I have spoken to claim to have licenses to the software, so I am wondering whether the issue is whether they ACQUIRED the software in an inappropriate way (and that software has a “phone home” feature, likely which fails to authenticate that it is a licensed copy on Siemens’ servers). This is all guesswork. More will be revealed as the lawsuit unfolds.

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