A U.S. District Court in Vermont significantly reduced damages that the company is required to pay Vermont Microsystems in a case involving charges of trade secrets. The court lowered the damages by about two-thirds to $7.8 million, plus interest.
In the 1994 case, Vermont Microsystems sued Autodesk, charging that the company illicitly used its technology in Autodesk products. Vermont Microsystems won that judgment and received $25.5 million for royalties.
News of the ruling pushed up Autodesk's stock to 30-1/8, up 5/8 of a point. It remains unknown when Autodesk may receive any benefit from today's ruling, which Vermont Microsystems has until January 23 to appeal.
"It's unclear how the timing will play out. We can't predict how much money we'll see and when it will be," Autodesk spokeswoman Kathy Tom said.
Autodesk, which also supplies PC-based design software, took a $25.5 million one-time charge to cover the judgment in its 1995 fourth quarter and has socked away $500,000 each quarter since to cover interest charges.
The company could use a boost in its earnings, which plummeted by 69.4 percent to $5.9 million in the third quarter as a slow European economy dragged down sales.