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Judge Strikes Down Autodesk and Sides with Ebay Seller

An on going feud between an eBay seller and Autodesk was put to rest this week. Timothy Vernon has been listing auctions for the resale of AutoCAD. However AutoCAD maker, Autodesk, has been arguing that Vernon has been violating the software’s license agreements. Autodesk claims the company licenses the software, rather than selling it. Federal judge Richard A. Jones rejected Autodesk’s argument and cites the First Sale Doctrine that gives rights to those who sell used copies of copyrighted works.

“I really couldn’t believe it. There was always the chance that they misunderstood and thought it was a pirated copy. I basically told them that I didn’t believe it was a violation and would continue to sell the item, and then they threatened further action,” said Vernon in response to the judge’s decision. “I’m thrilled, though this didn’t really come as a surprise. I just really had a lot of faith in our position.”

Timothy Vernon, an eBay powerseller, has been in an on going soap opera with Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD. Vernon first drew attention a few years ago when he put up first copy of AutoCAD for resale on eBay. Instantly Autodesk sent out letters to stop the auction, citing the auction violates the company’s copyright under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Vernon sent out a counter-notice to Autodesk. When the company failed to respond Vernon was allowed to reinstate the auction.

Fast forward a couple years, Vernon listed several other copies of AutoCAD and Autodesk was not too far behind with DMCA notices. This forced eBay to suspend his account for a month. Vernon claims the suspension cut off his livelihood and sued Autodesk in November of last year. “I filed it (the suit) out of frustration,” said Vernon. “There was a lot of uncertainty.” The suit accused Autodesk of suppressing “competition from the online sale of used copies of its products,” in other words unfair competition.