Siemens INDUSTRY SOFTWARE INC. converting NX software pirates into customers.

Siemens PLM | Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Piracy Lawsuit

Siemens Industry Software Inc. has been suing engineers as “John Doe” Defendants

Siemens Industry Software Inc. has been suing engineers as ‘John Doe’ Defendants in federal courts.  The lawsuits are for the piracy of their NX software since it was in version 7 (so far, I have seen claims against users of NX 7, NX 8, NX 8.5?, but not yet for NX 9, NX 10, or NX 11 — all of which are available on the bittorrent networks). Most recently, I have seen lawsuits focusing in on the unlawful use of the Solid Edge ST9 Foundation software.

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In June, I wrote the “What to do about the Siemens Industry Software Inc. v. Does case (TX)” article which provided specific information surrounding the lawsuit from information acquired from the Siemens Industry Software lawyers themselves. However, back then, there was much still unknown, and now (almost 6 months later), I have a much better idea of how this is happening, what Siemens Industry Software is doing to catch those using the software illegally, whether claims of piracy are leaking over to the employers of the engineers who use the pirated software at their workplace, and how they are handling claims against those defendants, both in and out of the courtroom.

What you need to know about these lawsuits is that the Siemens Industry Software Inc. lawsuits still deceptively look like “copyright troll” lawsuits, but they are not. I will get into this momentarily.

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*UPDATED* LIST OF FEDERAL COURT CASES FILED:

IN THE CONNECTICUT DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. et al v. Demin (Case No. 3:16-cv-00553)

IN THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1 – 100 (Case No. 1:14-cv-01926)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-50 (Case No. 1:11-cv-08469)

IN THE OHIO SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software In v. Manufacturing Services International, Inc. (Case No. 3:16-cv-00182)

IN THE PENNSYLVANIA EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does 1-50 (Case No. 2:12-cv-06795)

IN THE TEXAS EASTERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. BTL Machine, Inc. (Case No. 4:14-cv-00506)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:15-cv-00582)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc. v. Mercury Metal Forming Technologies, LLC (Case No. 4:14-cv-00002)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does (Case No. 4:15-cv-00017)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. TWIVision Engineering Group, LLC (Case No. 6:11-cv-00679)

IN THE TEXAS SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT:
Siemens Industry Software Inc. v. Does 1-150 (Case No. 4:20-cv-00798)
Siemens Industry Software Inc. v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 4:20-cv-00801)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-118 (Case No. 4:19-cv-02448)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-150 (Case No. 4:19-cv-00129)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-107 (Case No. 4:18-cv-02344)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-97 (Case No. 4:18-cv-00397)
Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-93 (Case No. 4:17-cv-01796)
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)

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JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS ARE GETTING CAUGHT THROUGH THE *USE* OF THE SOFTWARE, NOT THROUGH THE ACQUISITION OF THE SOFTWARE.

In September of 2016, I was still piecing together how a person can get caught not through the download of pirated software via BitTorrent, but through the USE of that software (that article is still available for viewing, although the picture is more clear to us now as I describe my current understanding of it here, specifically tailored to the Siemens Industry Software Inc. Software-based lawsuits).

As we’ve learned, most Siemens Industry Software Inc. NX Software available for download on the piracy websites comes with a serial number (“SN”) and an “activator” which modifies the application to allow it to accept a random password that the SN activator generated.  (Not relevant, but still interesting to know:  The serial number + details about the computer or laptop upon which it is installed creates a “Unique ID” which can be checked with valid IDs on the server; this circumvents a computer from using a “valid” registration code for a computer for which that registration code was not licensed to.  Thus, even though the serial number activator provided the software with a valid serial number, the company servers know the software is pirated.)

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This application modifier is known as a “crack,” and software which is altered to accept the serial number generated by the crack thinks locally (that is, on the laptop in which it was installed) that the software was properly acquired, purchased, and lawfully registered. Most cracks also revert the executable file used to run the file back to its original unaltered state once the software has been registered.

The problem is that even cracked software connects to the internet, for example, to access libraries in the program file which are stored on the company’s servers. In other words, for economy purposes, it would take up too much hard drive space to store every piece of a large multi-gigabyte-sized program on each person’s hard drive. Thus, companies now store core components of their software on their servers. This is generally referred to as “cloud-based software,” but what exactly is stored online with the Siemens Industry software is still unknown (and they keep this purposefully undisclosed because they track the IP addresses of the computers who run the software and access these files online).

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EVEN IF THE SOFTWARE HAS BEEN REGISTERED using a “SN and an activator,” (as provided on the bittorrent websites), when the software connects to Siemens Industry Software Inc.’s servers to access pieces of the software to run, if the registration code (or more accurately, the Unique ID, as described above) does not match a valid paid registration from their own records, that software unbeknownst to the user is flagged as being unlicensed, and the IP address is recorded.  We now understand that the software user is not made aware of this until he is implicated as a John Doe Defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

EVERY TIME that user uses the NX software, another entry of unlicensed use is recorded (date, time, etc.) and the IP address of the internet connection used when accessing the software is also logged. This is how a Siemens Industry Software Inc. lawsuit against a John Doe engineer can leak over to his employer receiving letters for the infringement of their software, even when the software was acquired at the accused John Doe engineer’s home.

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WHO IS THE TARGET OF THESE LAWSUITS.

I mentioned above that the Siemens Industry Software Inc. lawsuits look deceptively like “copyright troll” lawsuits, but in hindsight, we have learned they are not. Rather than extorting a few thousand dollars from every John Doe Defendant regardless of guilt, Siemens is looking for a particular defendant.

Siemens Industry Software wants to find the engineer who is providing “paid” engineering services, either 1) from his own laptop in his own small business, or 2) from his employer’s place of business where unbeknownst to the employer, that employee is bringing his unlicensed software to his workplace and using that pirated software at work [noting that his work does not own or pay for a license for the software].

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In other words, Siemens Industry Software wants to find those engineers who are using their software but who are not paying a license for the use of that software, and they want to turn that enterprising engineer into a paying customer. Moreso, Siemens Industry Software wants to find that company (the employer of that engineer) who is benefiting from the unlicensed use of their software, and to turn that corporate entity into a “volume license” paying customer. This is where the “big bucks” are made.

WHAT IF YOU ARE A STUDENT?

Students are a different story than paid engineers. Just as law students are fed unlimited free case lookup services and are encouraged with points and free coffee mugs for using as much of services as they can [only to be hit with a multi-thousand-dollar subscription upon graduation for what a few days ago was free (think, WestLaw, LexisNexis)], engineering students are seen as the same “cash cows” for Siemens Industry Software Inc. as law students are seen by the WestLaw/Nexis case lookup services. A poor engineering student today is seen by Siemens as a future subscription-based customer for the rest of his working career, and if not, that engineer’s employer will be a “volume license” customer which is even more profitable for Siemens.

If you have not yet figured this out, I have found that engineering students (and those individuals who are smart enough to figure out that the NX software has specific applications for use in conjunction with their 3D printers) find themselves in the spider web of these lawsuits more than anyone else. These individuals ‘mess around’ with the software in ways which do not provide them an income (what we call “non-revenue-producing use,” or “personal use”). Rather, they use the NX software (or more recently, the Solid Edge ST9 software) to gain professional skills knowing that if and when these students do find employment, use of the Siemens PLM software will become a necessity. So the students download it, play around with it, then get sued and call me fearing that their professional lives are over.

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But no attorney at Reed Smith LLP — not Robert Riddle, Andrew Bluebond, or most recently, Kate Geldmacher… and certainly not Steven Dietz — wants to end the financial life of a future customer. Aside from the fact that a student has no assets to seize, it is my understanding that Steven Dietz would rather turn that student into a loyal customer. For this reason, I have been able to accomplish resolutions of claims with students in a way in which is simply not available to the engineer who uses Siemens Industry Software Inc.’s unlicensed software for profit.

That is not to say that an engineer won’t be able to “get out” of this lawsuit — it simply takes a bit more work, perhaps paying Siemens Industry Software a settlement fee based on their particular circumstances (read that again carefully), and based on what software was allegedly used, what module add-ons were used or needed, whether the use was for personal or business reasons, and whether use of the software is still needed in the future.

The Engineer-Student Roommate Scenario

Lastly, [since I am listing scenarios I’ve seen over the past few months,] non-engineering students who have roommates or suitemates who are engineering students also have been the recipients of the subpoena letters from their ISP (most recently, Comcast). While Siemens does not see the non-engineering student or enterprising 3D printer genius as a future customer, your engineering roommate or suitemate is still seen as such, and thus involving him or her as part of the solution can easily fix a $150,000 copyright infringement lawsuit against you.

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In sum, Siemens wants to convert those illegally using their software into customers.

So as you see, Siemens Industry Software Inc. looks like a copyright troll, but they are not. Their attorneys are often not interested in merely a settlement, but in converting the accused John Doe software user into a customer (or, as a future customer). This means that settlements are accepted where there is a future benefit to Siemens Industry Software, as they are not looking to use the lawsuits as a means to “cash out” or to “punish pirates.” Obviously this could change, and there have been circumstances where it is more feasible to simply defend a client by representing him or her in the federal court rather than having him agree to anything he or she did not do, but for the most part, Siemens Industry Software Inc. seems to be straightforward on what they seek to accomplish with these lawsuits.

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OTHER ARTICLES ON THE SIEMENS INDUSTRY SOFTWARE INC. CASES:

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

Siemens Industry Software Inc. 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.

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

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


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.

    Siemens Surprises John Does With $50K+ Settlement Requests

    Siemens PLM | Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Piracy Lawsuit

    I have done further searching, and it appears as if the prices that Siemens Industry Software Inc. is asking for are 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.

    [ *2020 UPDATE* ] :
    REBRANDING.  Siemens has recently rebranded from “Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc.” (or, “Siemens PLM”) to “Siemens Industry Software Inc.”  To avoid confusion, when referencing Siemens, I will use their current name, but when referencing their older cases, I will use the names that are still on the court records.

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    It usually makes no sense writing about cases once they have progressed quite a bit, but with the Siemens Industry Software Inc. cases, Siemens has ramped up their sales tactics in a way which needs some explaining.

    Recent letters that have gone out from Andrew Bluebond (and in more recent lawsuits, they might be sent by Katherine Geldmacher) 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 Industry Software Inc.’s NX software.

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    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.

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    HOW SIEMENS INDUSTRY SOFTWARE INC. SALES TACTICS MIMIC THOSE OF SELLING AN EXPENSIVE SUIT.

    When you go to a clothing store 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 $15,000 for their base software after being initially asked for $50,000, you’ll think you are getting a great ‘deal’. 

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    WHAT IS THE TRUE RETAIL PRICE OF SIEMENS INDUSTRY SOFTWARE INC. SOFTWARE?

    I mentioned $15,000 as the guesstimate of the base price for the Siemens Industry software, and really, I do not know what the base price actually is.  I have seen websites advertise the sale of that software from $15,000 – $20,000.  I have also seen ‘less credible’ sell ‘valid’ licenses for $2,500, so who really knows.

    2020 UPDATE: Siemens Industry Software Inc. 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.”

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    As my general understanding goes (from speaking to various individuals at Siemens), Siemens Industry NX software ranges in price from $15,000 – over $30,000 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 Industry Software Inc. (or “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/

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    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 Industry Software Inc.’s claims against you.

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    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 Industry Software Inc. 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.

      MOST RECENT SIEMENS INDUSTRY SOFTWARE INC. CASES
      (as of 3/8/2020)

      Cases Filed in the Texas Southern District Court:

      Siemens Industry Software Inc. v. Does 1-150 (Case No. 4:20-cv-00798)
      Siemens Industry Software Inc. v. Does 1-10 (Case No. 4:20-cv-00801)
      Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-118 (Case No. 4:19-cv-02448)
      Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-150 (Case No. 4:19-cv-00129)
      Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-107 (Case No. 4:18-cv-02344)
      Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-97 (Case No. 4:18-cv-00397)
      Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. v. Does 1-93 (Case No. 4:17-cv-01796)
      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)

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