Top Tips for Responding to an Autodesk Audit
Autodesk routinely sends letters to businesses that it suspects may be using Autodesk software products without adequate licensing, both in order to confirm those suspicions as well as to address any license-compliance discrepancies. Typically under threat of a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement, Autodesk requires targeted businesses to respond to detailed questions about the Autodesk software installations on company computers, the employees who use those installations, and the licenses owned for those installations. It is Autodesk’s position that unlicensed software installations constitute copyright infringement, and businesses that are unable to show full compliance typically face significant penalties on order to obtain Autodesk’s release from liability for the alleged infringement.
When facing a software audit from Autodesk, it is usually a good idea for a business to take reasonable steps to cooperate in the audit process. However, that cooperation should come only after the business has taken steps to protect its interests and has conducted an internal review of its potential exposure. It is usually a good first step for company officers to read and familiarize themselves with the Autodesk Software License Agreement, paying special attention to the provisions that may affect the outcome of the audit, such as, for example, the license prohibition against the transfer of licenses without Autodesk’s written consent. That prohibition may prevent the company from using licenses purchased by employees in order to demonstrate compliance with regard to software installed on company computers.
In conducting an internal review, it also is important to remember that Autodesk typically will not require that the company product invoices or other receipts from license purchases, as long as the serial number for the software installed on company computers correspond to serial numbers that have been properly registered with Autodesk. If company officers are confident that all software has been purchased from authorized resellers, then submitting the serial numbers can help to avoid the headache of trying to locate invoices or other purchasing documentation.
Finally, prior to supplying any audit information, a business should secure a confidentiality agreement from Autodesk. Autodesk often will agree to ensure that information supplied as part of the audit process or settlement negotiations is kept confidential and to not attempt to use any such audit information in court, if the matter proceeds to litigation.
Companies facing Autodesk audits should consider retaining counsel experienced in handling Autodesk audits. A competent attorney can help navigate the obstacles and pitfalls of the audit process.