SAN FRANCISCO -- High-frequency EDA vendor AWR Corp. Wednesday (Aug. 4) filed a complaint in U.S. federal court against China's ZTE Corp. and its U.S. affiliate, alleging that the company installed and used unauthorized versions of AWR's EDA software.
AWR (El Segundo, Calif.) charges that telecomm equipment supplier ZTE (Shenzhen, China) "knowingly and deliberately" circumvented copyright protection mechanisms to enable the company to use AWR’s software without having to purchase valid, legal licenses.
AWR said the suit—filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California—was designed to protect its intellectual property. The company said in a statement that "software piracy in the EDA market space can undermine the competitiveness of semiconductor, telecommunications and aerospace companies worldwide."
The complaint alleges that by using AWR software without authorization, ZTE has avoided paying millions of dollars in license fees.
AWR declined to comment beyond a brief written statement. ZTE could not immediately be reached for comment.
Software piracy is considered a growing problem in EDA and other software markets. With the rise of the semiconductor industry in China, where respect for intellectual property does not carry the same cultural significance that it does in the West, EDA firms have increasingly been forced to contend with the reality that a growing number of designers are using their software without authorization or payment.
The EDA consortium, a trade group that represents EDA firms, maintains an anti-piracy committee charged with driving increased security and license management capabilities for the benefit of the industry. Last year EDAC launched a multi-faceted investigation into EDA software piracy.
The history of EDA is paved with allegations of IP theft, including high-profile suits like Cadence Design Systems Inc. versus Avanti Corp. in the late 1990s and Synopsys Inc. versus Magma Design Automation Inc. a few years ago. But suits like the one filed by AWR—accusing an electronics firm of wholesale piracy of products—have been rare.
Tech firms have in recent times been getting more aggressive about using litigation to protect their IP in China. Last month, Motorola Inc. sued Huawei Technologies Co., alleging a plot to steal trade secrets.