On April 24, 2023, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court announced it awarded Dassault Systemes Co., Ltd. 20 million RMB and an injunction in copyright infringement case involving the CATIA computer aided design (CAD) software. The Court found that the defendant IAT Automobile Technology Co., Ltd. (阿尔特汽车技术股份有限公司) copied and installed 103 copies of the CATIA series of computer software involved in the case without authorization and IAT obstructed the Court’s evidence preservation.
Dassault claimed that IAT used Dassault’s CATIA series of computer software without its authorization, which infringed Dassault’s legal copyright to the CATIA series of computer software, and demanded that IAT should stop the infringement and compensate for the loss of 20 million RMB and pay reasonable expenses of 80,500 RMB.
Upon Dassault’s application, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court conducted evidence preservation on the use of the CATIA series of computer software in the computers and servers in the company’s business premises. With the agreement of both parties, random sampling was used to conduct evidence preservation operations on 54 of the 343 office computers in IAT’s office premises. Dassault claimed that IAT used virtual desktop software to implement evidence obstruction during the court evidence preservation process.
The Beijing IP Court found:
1. IAT Company copied and installed the CATIA series of computer software involved in the case without authorization
After the case was filed and accepted, Dassault filed an application for evidence preservation. After review, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court made a Civil Ruling ((2021）京73民初345号) in accordance with the law, approving Dassault’s application for evidence preservation, and admissible the evidence obtained during the execution of the evidence preservation ruling as evidence in this case. According to the preserved facts, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court determined that IAT had copied and installed the CATIA series of computer software involved in the case without authorization.
2. IAT Company has implemented acts of obstructing evidence preservation
During the preservation of evidence in this case, it was found that 42 of the 54 computers inspected for security showed virtual desktop software was enabled, and the remaining 12 computers did not enable the software. 42 computers with virtual desktop enabled are in abnormal condition, and 12 computers without virtual desktop enabled are in normal condition. The evidence in the case shows that IAT’s main business includes automotive product planning, styling design, vehicle/engine/transmission/parts engineering design, CAE analysis, NVH optimization, new energy vehicle development, electronic control technology development, and simultaneous engineering analysis, mold/fixture design and manufacturing, exhibition car manufacturing, vehicle and component test evaluation and consultation, etc., and covers the entire process of automobile design. Usually, its departments related to R&D and design need to use relevant professional design software to complete the automotive product development process such as design, analysis, and simulation. However, in the departments related to R&D and design preserved by the court, no professional software related to automobile R&D and design was found in the 42 computers using the virtual desktop software, which obviously did not meet the business needs of IAT’s automobile R&D and design, and IAT did not give a reasonable explanation. Therefore, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court held that IAT did not truthfully disclose the fact of copying and installing the software involved in the case, which constituted obstructing evidence preservation.
3. IAT copied 103 sets of software involved in the case without authorization
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court calculated the proportion of the 3 sets of software involved in the 7 computers in the normal office environment, and calculated the software involved in the copy and use of the 338 computers, plus the 1 set of software involved in the computer room. Therefore, the total number of software involved in the case copied and installed by IAT is (3/7)×338+1=146 sets. In addition, the evidence on file can prove that IAT has purchased 48 sets of genuine CATIA V5 software, 5 of which are clearly arranged in Changchun, and there is a possibility of installing these 43 sets of genuine software at the office address of IAT in Beijing. When calculating the total number of infringing software, we deduct 43 sets, that is, the total number of infringing software is 146-43=103 sets. Therefore, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court determined that IAT had copied and used 103 sets of infringing software without authorization.
4. IAT’s copying of the software involved in the case belongs to commercial use
First of all, judging from the business scope, company introduction, recruitment information, etc. of IAT, it is a commercial company specializing in automobile design and a commercial user of CATIA series software. Secondly, the CATIA software involved in the case is an industrial design software, and its use is closely related to IAT’s business. Thirdly, evidence preservation data showed that the computer with the software involved in the case was installed in the product design department of IAT, and the above-mentioned software involved in the case was in a usable state.
In summary, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court held that the commercial use of the CATIA computer software involved in the case by IAT without Dassault’s permission violated Dassault’s right to reproduce the software and constituted infringement, and ruled that IAT immediately delete the CATIA V5R18, CATIA V5R19, CATIA V5-6, and CATIA V5-6R2016 software that was copied and installed without authorization from the office computer as of the effective date of this judgment, and destroy the carrier containing the copy of the aforementioned software, and within ten days from the day when the judgment comes into effect, compensate Dassault Systems Co., Ltd. for economic losses of 20 million RMB and reasonable expenses of 80,500 RMB.
The case is currently under appeal and has not yet taken effect.
The announcement from the Beijing IP Court can be found here (Chinese only).