Novel Trademark Case Name Settles With Last-Minute Drama

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Judge William Alsup punctuated a courtroom-steps settlement in a novel trademark case by asking the lawyers to rewrite the agreement on the fly and apologize to the jury pool for wasting their morning.

It was the latest dramatic turn in a case that had been set for trial Tuesday morning, featuring two leading IP lawyers: Michael Jacobs for software giant Autodesk Inc. and Claude Stern for Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corp. The case raised the unique issue of whether a software company could trademark a widely used name for a type of computer file.

Autodesk, represented by Morrison & Foerster’s Jacobs, sued SolidWorks for trademark infringement over the use of three letters: DWG. That’s the extension given to design files, much like .jpg is given to photos or .txt is given to text files.

Autodesk, a leading maker of 2-D and 3-D design software used by engineers and artists, has launched an effort to trademark “DWG,” which it uses on its packaging. The suit alleged that SolidWorks, which makes software similar to Autodesk and has products with names like DWGeditor and DWGviewer, was infringing and engaged in false advertising (pdf).

Read the rest of the story here.

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