SAN FRANCISCO--A U.S. federal court ruled Monday (June 13) that China’s ZTE Corp. is liable for its employees using an unauthorized key code to access and use software marketed by high-frequency EDA vendor AWR Corp.
Relying on data AWR gathered through a “phone home” feature of its software, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found that ZTE employees had accepted AWR’s click-through license agreement. The court also rejected ZTE’s claim that it was not bound by that agreement.
The court granted AWR's motion for partial summary judgment holding ZTE liable for breach of contract. AWR argued that when ZTE employees installed AWR’s software, ZTE became bound by a click-through license agreement that prohibited its employees from using the software with unauthorized licenses.
In a landmark case, AWR last year filed compaint against ZTE and its U.S. affiliate, alleging that ZTE installed and used unauthorized versions of AWR's EDA software.
A hearing on AWR’s remaining
claims and on damages is set to begin Aug. 9.
Software piracy has become a major source of concern for EDA vendors, particularly in China, where respect for intellectual property has not traditionally carried the same cultural significance that it does in the West. But estimates of EDA revenue last due to piracy are hard to come by.
"Piracy is a huge problem for EDA and other engineering software providers around the world," said Kathryn Kranen, vice chairman of the EDA Consortium, in a statement issued by AWR. "Piracy hurts paying customers by distorting their competitive playing fields. EDA Consortium members, including AWR, have an active program to assure that our customers benefit from elimination of software piracy."