Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel Sue Forever 21 for Software Piracy

Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel Sue Forever 21 for Software Piracy

Software corporations Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel filed to sue the apparel retail company Forever 21 for software piracy. In the filed complaint document, the software corporations claim that Forever 21 has, "(a) copied and reproduced certain of the Adobe Products, Autodesk Products, and Corel Products; and (b) circumvented technological measures that effectively control access to the Adobe Products, Autodesk Products, and Corel Products (collectively, the 'Access Control Technology').” Forever 21 also allegedly continued to use the software even after being contacted by Adobe. The software corporations are suing for damages due to the piracy of the software, profits derived by Forever 21's alleged use of the software, and other damages.

Forever 21 is an American retail giant, with reported sales in 2013 of $3.7 billion. They ranked as the 122nd largest private company in America by Forbes, yet apparently the corporation has a history of copyright controversies. According to a Jezebel article, Forever 21 had been sued more than 50 times for stealing clothing designs by 2011, but has never lost a case in court. According to the article, the corporation once settled out of court on the eve of a retrial after a hung jury on the first trial. While there is a chance that Forever 21 will settle with Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel, we will have to wait to find out if this is the route they take.

In the context of Adobe’s push for Creative Cloud subscription-based licensing of its software, this move could be the next step in Adobe’s fight against piracy. Problems with piracy have plagued Adobe for years, and they have explored various approaches to combating piracy. The push to subscription-based software is seen by some as an attempt to convert software pirates into potential customers by spreading out the cost of their products over time. It seems waging legal wars on consumers has far too much potential to alienate the consumers, and could have a negative effect on business. However, the majority of piracy offenders are likely broke college students, not multi-billion-dollar corporations. While we are currently unsure of how Adobe became aware of the alleged piracy, it is possible that an employee of Forever 21 might have implicated their company. Adobe encourages reporting of acts of piracy through an online report form.

[via Law360, The Verge]

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Tam Nguyen's picture

Oh snap!

michael buehrle's picture

did i miss the part where they said how a clothing company is stealing the software ?

Spy Black's picture

When you become a big enough corporation, it's easier to just rip stuff off and fight it in court with good lawyers, because you'll usually win or simply settle out of court. Apple has done this for years with small operations that never had the resources to fight them.

Please name one with valid citation.

Spy Black's picture

Well, for instance, there was a software developer that developed the bookcase theme the Apple ripped off for the iPad. Screwed him over.

Steve Jobs also threatened to destroy Dropbox after they decided not to sell out to him, but Dropbox didn't back off and the rest is history. You can read about that here:

There were also some guys who developed a music streaming service that Jobs also threatened, but I don't have a link to that story, which I read many years back. I do remember he wound up destroying them. I don't know how many of their software's features wound up in iTunes.

Steve Jobs was a total scümbag. He continuously harassed small upstarts that he want to sell out to him, or he'd threatened to destroy them. He knew that if he ripped them off, they wouldn't have the financial resources to fight him to court. I don't know if Tim Cook follows in his footsteps, as he strikes me as a more humane fellow, but the machine of Apple is still a corporate monstrosity, and it wouldn't surprise me if this was still going on.

I am with Doc on this one. What you are saying makes no sense. No midsize to large fortune 500 corp. is going to risks millions of dollars for a piece of software that only cost about $600 a year. One you would have to halk

Spy Black's picture

It's a bit different situation in this case as they are established companies being ripped off. I agree it's utterly weird, but corporations march to a different drummer.

Anonymous's picture

The article says, "However, the majority of piracy offenders are likely broke college students, not multi-billion-dollar corporations." Having worked for a number of large corporations, I think you would be surprised at the number that pirate software, intentionally or unintentionally. It's usually the latter as it's hard to keep up with licenses, but it happens a lot more than you'd think.

Ian, you are right. Large corporations have no intention of pirating software. The most likely situation here...a former designer installed the software because their cheap bosses would not approve to pay for the upgrade that most likely was needed.

The designer got fired and for pay back reported the pirated software to Adobe and provided all of the company's information. That is usually how Adobe gets their leads. The other most frequent way is that a person with no clue tries to register a pirated version which they bought off of eBay or craigslist.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

I was a roaming tech for a large company of long term care and retirement homes. I was responsible for about 40 offices. Pretty much every single piece of software in those offices/businesses was pirated when I started.

The main issue was the executive director purchasing one copy of office and norton and installing it on all computers. Windows was also a huge problem because they would purchase computers locally from small shops and the shops would only sell them one copy of windows (and only one license) for all the computers.

Telling the Executive Director that he had to buy a copy (or license) of Office for every computer and that he couldn't just install the one copy on all the computers usually ended up with me getting a complaint at HQ ...where they informed him he had to comply before they ended up getting sued for 25000$ per copy (I'm in Canada).

Took me for ever to get them all sorted out.

Now, that was back in the days of Windows XP so quite a while ago,