The IMSI free CAD product that it is putting up against AutoCAD LT has a very interesting name: A/CAD LT*. Does A/CAD sound familiar to anyone? I vaguely seem to remember some other CAD product with a very similar name. Hmm, let me think, it has a main program file called acad.exe and many other support files called acad.something, it has had its name abbreviated to ACAD by its users for decades… No, sorry, the name somehow eludes me.
I’m not a trademark lawyer (or any other sort), but here’s what I can tell from a quick glance at the USPTO site. It appears that Autodesk had ACAD registered as a trademark in 1986 with a first use in 1983, and that the registration was abandoned in 1987. It was registered again in 1988 and abandoned again in 1992. That may be an unfortunate lapse. I wonder what else may have slipped through the cracks?
Now there is an ACAD logo design registered to a certain ACAD Corporation of California (possibly unrelated), and a trademark application from IMSI, not yet approved. IMSI owns, and is actively using, the acadnow.com domain name. The IMSI advertising materials show the word A/CAD with a little TM after it, which indicates that they are claiming that they own the trademark, but it is not registered. The A/CAD packaging is, to me, rather too close to the style of the AutoCAD packaging. There’s even a Big Red A. Oh, sorry, it’s actually a big white A on a red background. That makes all the difference.
Given Autodesk’s history in using the courts to chase quarry as elusive as an unregisterable file extension that it never actually owned, and having a legal prod at competitors who dare to use orange rectangles in their marketing, what do you think are the chances that Autodesk’s hyperactive legal department is going to let this one slip by without a fight?
IMSI, if you’re going to compete, great. All power to you. But compete, don’t leech; it looks awful. Tacky, tacky, tacky.
While you might get some cheap** publicity (including from me), I’m afraid you miss out on the underdog sympathy factor when it looks like you’re actively trying to get sued. Finally, did you consider what happens when somebody tries to find your A/CAD product using Google? Didn’t think so.
* A/CAD LT Express is the full name of the currently marketed version.
** Excluding legal fees.