November 03, 2003
The Spatial Versus Autodesk Lawsuit -- Was Justice Truly Served?
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While this November 2001 date concurs with programmer's Kershaw timeline, in earlier testimony from Autodesk's Mollon, he testified that negotiations for new contract began between Autodesk and D-Cubed late September of 2001, before the infamous "drop Inventor" meeting. Inventor 5.3, the first version to use ShapeManager was released on January 30, 2002, but it is built on top of ACIS with over 2,500 connection points to it. So if the Autodesk relationship with D-Cubed started in November, was it possible to do get everything working technically and work out a contract, by late January? Who knows? However, if the relationship started in September, then this timeframe makes more sense.
talked to him and he compared it to how Dassault Systemes ended up buying SolidWorks in 1997, pointing out how that acquisition started out as a casual comment by a Dassault executive over lunch and ended up as a full-fledged business deal. In court, Spatial did not address the possible Autodesk non-access to CATIA technology, but Payne told me after the trail that this was regarding an ACIS husk (add-on) that was never supposed to be inside the core of the kernel anyway.
In short, Spatial's main answer to Autodesk's charges, and what they stressed in their closing statements, was that none of this mattered, because it didn't have anything to do with the 1991 contract. Technically, I feel they were right, because while it seems that Spatial was trying to bully Autodesk into working them a sweeter deal financially, this doesn't give Autodesk the right to breach the contract, if that is what they indeed did.
So did they? A jury said no (more on them later). It really depends on how you interpret the contract. (So get yourself a copy of it and curl up with it by the fireplace)
Spatial said that not only did Autodesk break the contract, but it was planning on sharing the profits of their newly developed joint technology with D-Cubed "behind Spatial's back". However, Spatial had no documents or testimony in court to prove this. Autodesk feels that the entire Dassault Systemes acquisition of Spatial was a plot to "get Inventor off the market, because it cuts into their profits" in the words of Carl Bass. As Bass puts it, EDS doesn't ask Dassault Systemes to drop SolidWorks and resell Solid Edge, just because it makes the kernel SolidWorks is built upon.
than it received.
Again, I don't blame them. The deliberations could have, like the trial, gone on forever. For every point made by one witness, there seemed to a counterpoint. However, all I can do is leave you with this to consider -- most of Autodesk's key witness either still work for Autodesk or have business with them, whereas key Spatial witnesses like Hansen and Cunningham don't even work in the CAD industry anymore.
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