PROVIDING CATIA TRAINING TO COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS ACROSS AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD SINCE 1986
CATIA® is a registered trademark of Dassault Systemes and has no affiliation with Practical Catia Training.
(the 2 billion-dollar-a-year French company that holds the copyright to the CATIA software)
Practical CATIA Training
(a small American family school)
An Open Letter to Our Friends and Family, and to Our Past, Present, and Future Students & Customers
As many of you are no doubt aware, our family’s school was raided by the FBI while my son Adam was teaching a class. What you may not know is that the FBI raid was part of a federal grand jury investigation into our school's use of the CATIA software, and that we were exonerated of any wrongdoing.
You may have also heard that Dassault Systemes, the French company that holds the copyright to the CATIA software, filed a million-dollar lawsuit against our school falsely accusing us of copyright infringement (after we'd been exonerated by the grand jury).
What you may not know is that even though my family and I could not afford an attorney, we refused to be bullied into giving up our school and the valuable service we provide to our community, so we took on Dassault and its high-priced attorneys ourselves.
Although my family and I are not litigious people, we filed a multimillion-dollar countersuit against Dassault accusing Dassault of antitrust behavior, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things. This led Dassault to request a meeting with me, and to request that the case be put on hold so we could discuss a settlement to the lawsuit(s).
Until now, my family and I have chosen to fight this battle quietly in the background. However, the time has come for us to speak out. So now - as Paul Harvey used to say...
"...you're going to hear the REST of the STORY.”
I have been involved in the automotive design and engineering profession for more than 30 years. I am a graduate and former instructor for the Batavia/Philpot Schools. I hold multiple patents for my designs and have been asked to write articles that have appeared in worldwide trade publications. I have been invited as an industry expert guest lecturer at local high schools, colleges and technical schools.
I began providing CATIA training as an employee of Saturn Corp in 1986. In 1995, my family and I started our school and began providing CATIA training in the metro-Detroit area. We developed an outstanding reputation and Dassault Systemes, and its partners IBM and MSC Software, each initiated business agreements with our school to help promote their products and services.
On October 30, 2006, the FBI raided our family's school while my son Adam was teaching a class. The FBI raid was part of a grand jury investigation into our school’s use of the CATIA software. We found out much later that Dassault Systemes, the French company that holds the copyright for the CATIA software, initiated the grand jury investigation/raid when it filed a complaint with the Department of Justice falsely accusing our school of infringing on the copyright of its CATIA software.
We own two seats of the CATIA V4 software that we purchased in 2000, and one seat of the CATIA V5 software that we purchased 2001. Furthermore, we were using multiple seats of the CATIA software in our training per business agreements that Dassault’s partners, IBM and MSC Software, initiated with our school.
Since it partnered with Dassault in 1981, IBM had been responsible for sales, marketing, licensing, and distribution of the CATIA software. MSC Software was an IBM/Dassault "Business Partner", a licensed CATIA reseller, and a company in which Dassault owned a 10% share.
We provided the grand jury with evidence of the business agreements IBM and MSC Software initiated with our school, as well as evidence that Dassault was advertising on our school’s website. I also volunteered to testify before the grand jury. As a result, my family and I were exonerated of any wrongdoing.
After its failed attempt to have the FBI and Department of Justice close our school, Dassault filed a million-dollar lawsuit against me and my family’s school, again falsely accusing us of infringing on its CATIA copyright.
My family and I couldn’t afford an attorney, so with the help of Google Scholar to do legal research, and a friend (now my wife) to proofread my briefs, I decided to take on Dassault myself. Even though it seemed like an impossible task, we were innocent and I'd be damned if we were just going to rollover and allow Dassault to force us to close our school and deprive our community of the valuable service we provide. I was bullied as a kid, and I wasn't going let that happen again. We've been told we weren't the first Detroit-area school Dassault threatened to sue, but we are the only one to stand up to them.
We have fought Dassault and its high-priced attorneys tooth and nail over the past three and a half years (the wheels of justice turn slowly in the federal court system). We even won a “published” appeal in December 2011 when the appellate court held that the district court judge (Zatkoff) erred when he entered a default judgment against us over a legal technicality, effectively closing our Practical CATIA Training school for more than a year. We’ve been told that it’s almost unheard of for an “unrepresented” party to win an appeal, much less have the appeal published by the appellate court.
After we won our appeal, we went on the offensive by filing a 65-page, 11-count countersuit against Dassault accusing Dassault of trying to run our school out of business to eliminate us as its competitor in the metro-Detroit CATIA training market (Dassault secretly owns a company named Inceptra which provides CATIA training in our geographic region, and is our direct competitor). Our countersuit also accuses Dassault of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and malicious prosecution, among other things.
After we filed our countersuit, Dassault requested a meeting to try and resolve the lawsuits. I agreed, and Dassault’s representative flew in from France on August 13th 2012, and met with me for two days.
In preparation for the meeting I assembled a 5” binder (shown below) containing the evidence I have amassed over the past 12 years. I also had the local university create five books (also shown below) that contain the hundreds of CATIA licenses our school received from IBM and MSC Software, as well as the hundreds of customer referrals our school provided to IBM and MSC Software in exchange for permission to use the CATIA software in our training..
After spending nearly 18 hours over two days reviewing the evidence and discussing the facts of the case, Dassault’s representative said Dassault’s lawsuit against our school has been a horrible mistake. He said Dassault thought we were lying about the business relationships IBM and MSC Software initiated with our school. He said if Dassault knew I'd been telling the truth about the business relationships, and the hundreds of licenses we received from IBM and MSC Software as a result of said business relationships, Dassault would have never sued our school. He said poor communications had left Dassault "the white elephant in the room" (American equivalent of "being left holding the bag").
After conferring with Dassault’s management, Dassault's representative told us (me and my sister) that Dassault would be dropping its lawsuit against our school and negotiating a settlement. He said Dassault is a good company and would “do the right thing by me and my family” to compensate us for the harm that’s been done over the past six years (ruined reputations, bankruptcy, foreclosure, ruined credit, lost relationships, the extreme emotional distress caused by the FBI raid and grand jury investigation, and the thousands of wasted man-hours as well as the stress and anxiety caused by having to defending ourselves against Dassault’s lawsuit).
Dassault asked that I agree to a 90-day stay to put the case on hold while we work out a settlement. I agreed, and on August 27, 2012, the judge signed an Order putting the case on hold for 90 days.
Shortly after the judge signed the order, I offered to fly to France to meet with Dassault’s management to negotiate a settlement. Alternatively, I invited Dassault’s management to come here to meet with me. Even though Dassault requested the 90-day stay to discuss a settlement, as of this writing, Dassault’s management has not responded to either offer. I have also sent registered letters to Dassault's Board of Directors regarding this matter.
It’s been our contention that Dassault filed the complaint with the FBI - and its lawsuit - as a means of driving our school out of business. Dassault’s representative said this isn’t true. He claims the six-year nightmare that my family and I have been through is a horrible mistake, the result of miscommunications.
I’d like to believe him as it’s in my nature to want to believe the best about people. The 90-day stay is due to expire by the end of November, so I guess we’ll know soon enough if Dassault was sincere about settling the lawsuit(s) thus proving it is “a good company” that will “do the right thing” when it’s made a mistake. However, if Dassault continues its lawsuit knowing full well that my family and I are innocent, it proves our claim that Dassault is a ruthless company hell-bent on creating a monopoly by eliminating its competition through whatever means necessary.
Regardless what Dassault decides to do, my family and I want you to know that while we may be a little bruised and battered from our experiences over the past six years, we’ve taken Dassault’s best shots and we’re still standing, and still offering the highest quality, most affordable CATIA Training in the industry, just like we’ve always done. So please show your support for the “little guy” by trusting your CATIA training needs to our school. NOTE: Please use the menu at the top of the page to navigate to our school's website.
People that are familiar with the ongoing ordeal my family and I have been through for the past six years say this is a story that must be told. We agree. I’m currently writing a book that chronicles my family’s extraordinary experiences since that fateful day in October 2006 when the FBI barged through the front door of my family’s school while my son was teaching a class.
If you can’t wait for the book to read about our harrowing experience, please visit www.keithchildress.com to read a detailed account of my family’s incredible David and Goliath struggle to stand up to the FBI, the Department of Justice, and Dassault Systemes – the billion-dollar company that has spent at least a million dollars thus far to try to close our school, but has been unable to do so.
As always, your feedback and support is very welcome.
Founder: Practical CATIA Training
P.S. To complete my Paul Harvey quote, "...and now you know the rest of the story."