This morning I spoke with CAD International‘s Nigel Varley. Here is a paraphrased summary of the interview.
SJ: When did CAD International buy the drcauto intellectual property rights?
NV: About two weeks ago.
SJ: You are currently helping drcauto customers with authorisation codes, is that correct?
NV: Yes, masses of them. It’s taking up a lot of our peoples’ time.
SJ: Are you charging for this service?
NV: Not at present.
SJ: Do you intend to charge for this service in the future?
NV: Maybe. We may need to, both to pay for our time and to recoup our investment. I don’t particularly like the idea of annual renewals for software, so we may do something different in future.
SJ: If somebody wanted to buy drcauto products such as LT Toolkit now, could they do so?
NV: No, we’re still processing the materials we were given when we bought the rights. It wasn’t left in a well-organised state. I’m not sure if that was done deliberately or if it was just like that.
SJ: Do you have any plans to continue development of LT Toolkit or the other drcauto products?
NV: It’s too early to say at this time. I understand it doesn’t work right now with AutoCAD LT 2010 with Update 2 applied, or on 64-bit Windows, or on Windows 7. It’s not clear at this stage how much work is involved in making it work. It should be doable, but we can’t make any commitments at this stage.
SJ: So do you have a timeframe for doing any of this stuff?
NV: No, it’s too early. We’re still processing it.
SJ: What about former drcauto employees helping people out with authorisation codes?
NV: They have no rights to do that. They don’t own the intellectual property, we do. People need to be very careful.
SJ: Are you contemplating legal action?
NV: I think I’ll keep that under my hat for now.
SJ: Do you foresee any problems with Autodesk if you go ahead with LT Toolkit?
NV: I don’t think so. Autodesk would be pretty naive, with competing products around at a lower price than LT and with LISP built in, to think that they would gain any sales by blocking LT Toolkit. They would just be shooting themselves in the foot.
SJ: Autodesk has always been strongly opposed to products like LT Toolkit. Are you concerned about legal action from Autodesk?
NV: Well, people say that Autodesk has been against it, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that. When I spoke to the late Gary D’Arcy he told me that Autodesk had never once even contacted him to try to get him to stop developing it.
On Deelip’s blog there has been some discussion about resellers and what they should be allowed to do, so I asked some questions along those lines.
SJ: What is the relationship between CAD International in the USA and Australia?
NV: We’re an Austalian company, moving into the US marketplace for those people in the USA who want to buy our products. We don’t have offices in the USA, but we do have people on the ground.
SJ: Is CAD International an authorised AutoCAD reseller?
NV: No. We’ve been selling Autodesk products for 15 years without a direct relationship. We buy from Scholastic like everybody else in the same position. It’s not worth becoming a dealer; the obligations are too great and the margins are not worthwhile. We’ve been asked on several ocasions over the years and always said no.
[Note: I’ve since read (in something written well before this issue was raised here) that Autodesk Australia intends to tighten up the reseller situation in the very near future. These things go in cycles, and have for the last 25 years.]
SJ: Does Autodesk have a problem with you promoting competing products such as Bricscad?
NV: They have never spoken to us about it in the past, but as we don’t have a direct relationship with them it’s not surprising.
SJ: I see from your web site that you are selling DWG TrueView for $195. Isn’t that a free product?
NV: That fee is for supply services; research services if you prefer. People can download it from Autodesk if they like or get it from us. We just put it on the site as a trial to see if anybody wanted to buy it. Nobody has, yet.
SJ: I can’t say I’m greatly surprised by that. Has Autodesk contacted you about this issue?
NV: No, we’ve heard nothing from Autodesk. They don’t really care about us, we’re a pretty small player in the market.
[Edit: the $195 price tag has since vanished from the site.]