URI paid $ 475,000 in settlement with California software company


PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – The University of Rhode Island agreed to pay Synopsys Inc. $ 475,000 as part of a settlement after the California-based software company filed a complaint alleging that certain university employees used “counterfeit keys” to illegally access company software.

URI, which has denied the allegations, could have been forced to pay up to $ 337 million if the two sides had not come to an agreement. Under the August 9 deal, URI had 30 days to pay nearly half a million dollars. The university is also required to share its internal findings regarding the counterfeit keys with Synopsys.

It is not known if anyone at the university was disciplined about this. After failing to respond to multiple requests for comment, URI spokeswoman Linda Acciardo contacted after the story aired, saying the university was happy with the settlement.

“The university’s consistent and firm position continues to be that any possible misuse of electronic devices or tools in our community, or any allegedly inappropriate activity facilitated by them, is not tolerated,” said Acciardo in a press release.

Synopsys’ complaint – which was filed in the Northern District of California in January – alleged URI employees used counterfeit keys more than 135,000 times as of November 2020. The complaint stated that Synopsys and URI had entered into an agreement to the first time a software license agreement in March 2006, which governed the school’s use of the company’s intellectual property. Synopsys license keys authorized users to access its software.

According to the lawsuit, Synopsys also offered an academic program, which allowed URI to train students using the company’s engineering software. But as of last November, “URI began using counterfeit license keys to circumvent” the license key system and accessed Synopsys software without authorization, the company wrote.

According to the complaint, “several URI employees” accessed the software more than 135,000 times on “at least two workstations connected to the URI network”.

“One of the user profiles associated with these workstations appears to belong to a URI teacher,” according to the complaint.

The company wrote to URI “knew or had reason to know” that its access to Synopsys software “was unauthorized and in violation” of Synopsys copyright.

Synopsys initially asked the court for a jury trial, but also wrote that it would accept “statutory damages on the basis of circumvention”, asking for the maximum for each of the 135,000 violations.

According to the intellectual property law cited in the complaint, the maximum penalty per violation is $ 2,500, which would mean that URI would have had to pay up to $ 337.5 million if the company had won the lawsuit. .

In a statement to Target 12, Synopsys spokesperson Simone Souza writes: “URI’s swift cooperation during the investigation was essential in resolving the issue, stopping users who attempted to thwart the checks. license from Synopsys and reimburse legal fees and costs incurred by Synopsys to protect our intellectual property.

Souza also notes that, as part of the regulations, URI faculty and students will be able to continue to be part of the Synopsys academic program.

Tolly taylor (ttaylor@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook

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