DWG (denoted by the .dwg filename extension) was the native file format for the Interact CAD package, developed by Mike Riddle in the late 1970s, and subsequently licensed by Autodesk in 1982 as the basis for AutoCAD. From 1982 to 2007, Autodesk created versions of AutoCAD which wrote no less than 18 major variants of the DWG file format, none of which are publicly documented.
The DWG format is probably the most widely used format for CAD drawings. Autodesk estimates that in 1998 there were in excess of two billion DWG files in existence.
There are several claims to control of the DWG format . It is Autodesk who designs, defines, and iterates the DWG format as the native format for their CAD applications. Autodesk sells a read/write library, called RealDWG, under selective licensing terms for use in non-competitive applications. Several companies have attempted to reverse engineer Autodesk's DWG format, and offer software libraries to read and write Autodesk DWG files. The most successful is Open Design Alliance, a non-profit consortium created in 1998 by a number of software developers (including competitors to Autodesk), released a read/write/view library called the OpenDWG Toolkit, which was based on the MarComp AUTODIRECT libraries. (ODA has since rewritten and updated that code.) There are no open-source DWG libraries currently available, and neither RealDWG nor DWGdirect are licensed on terms that are compatible with the gnu gpl, or similar free software license.
In 1998, Autodesk added file verification to AutoCAD R14.01, through a function called DWGCHECK. This function was supported by an encrypted checksum and product code (called a "watermark" by Autodesk), written into DWG files created by the program.. In 2006, in response to Autodesk users experiencing bugs and incompatibilities in files written by reverse-engineered DWG read/write libraries, Autodesk modified AutoCAD 2007, to include "TrustedDWG technology", a function which would embed a text string within DWG files written by the program: "Autodesk DWG. This file is a Trusted DWG last saved by an Autodesk application or Autodesk licensed application. This helped Autodesk software users ensure that the files they were opening were created by an Autodesk, or RealDWG application, reducing risk of incompatibilities. AutoCAD would pop up a message, warning of potential stability problems, if a user opened a 2007 version DWG file which did not include this text string.
In 2006, Autodesk applied for a US trademark on "DWG", as applied to software (as distinct to its application as a file format name.) . In a non-final action in May, 2007, the examining attorney refused to register the mark, as it is "merely descriptive" of the use of DWG as a file format name (for which Autodesk does not claim any trademark rights.) In September, 2007, Autodesk responded, claiming that DWG has gained a "secondary meaning," separate from its use as a file format name. . As of June 22, 2008, Autodesk's #78852798 application received an Office Action notifying the suspension of the procedure, stating the facts are that:
1. DWG is a file format.As early as 1996, Autodesk has disclaimed exclusive use of the DWG mark in US trademark filings.
2. Applicant is not the exclusive source of files with the format name DWG.
3. Applicant does not control the use of DWG by others, either as a trademark or as a file format name.
4. The submitted survey does not reflect recognition of DWG as a trademark, since no distinction was made between use as a trademark and use as the name of a file format.
Thus, the requirement for a disclaimer of DWG is continued and the Section 2(f) evidence is deemed insufficient to establish distinctiveness.
Note: DWG Trueview requires that a survey be filled out before download. Design Review has an optional survey.