Da Nang, Vietnam – Earlier this month, Mr. Trin Trung Hieu was apprehended by the Vietnamese governmental authorities, marking the end of his decade-long career leading a global piracy organization specializing in cracking and selling naval design software.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Hieu was leading a double life. Primarily, he was an engineer of a military shipyard based in Da Nang, where he was responsible for overseeing hull-constructions for that site. On the other hand, he led an organized collective of software hackers in high piracy markets such as Iran, China and Eastern Europe.

Through his employer he was able to familiarize himself with naval design software and get his hands on original versions of popular naval design software such as AVEVA Marine, NUPAS-CADMATIC, Napa, Shipconstructor, Autoship, Maxsurf and Nestrix.

Mr. Hieu discovered that in the niche of naval design software, there was a black-market demand that he could benefit from by supplying cracked license files in return for a hefty premium. From his perspective, he was in the position to supply, via the black market, a short-term solution with operational cost savings for his clients while creating for himself a good model to supplement his own personal income.

Naval design software pricing usually ranges from 15,000 USD up to 50,000 USD per license. Knowing this, Mr. Hieu claimed an unfair competitive advantage, offering cracked licenses for lowball prices ranging from 500 to 3,500- USD. Supplying cracked license for a decade, he started to have a regular piracy derived, black source of income.

In fact, over time, Mr. Hieu became more confident with his business to the point in which he represented himself in every major piracy forum on the internet.

He would work under various alter egos and use a range of tools such as LinkedIn, Skype and Gmail to expand his network and reach new prospective buyers.

Mr. Hieu made no effort to hide his software-pirating activities and it was clear for his buyers that he was not an official representative for any of the software company’s for which he sold licenses. This ultimately led to several naval design software companies turning to ITCA to ask for help.

ITCA Facilitates an End-to-End Investigation For The Naval Software Industry

A group of ITCA’s clients came forward with detailed information on an unidentified Vietnamese seller of cracked software who had approached their sales representatives with false inquires for demo/test licenses numerous times.

Due to the various online identities of Mr. Hieu, it was not immediately clear that the culprit of these complaints was in fact Mr. Hieu. Identification of this “unidentified Vietnamese seller” only became apparent after further investigations that were conducted by ITCA on behalf of its clients.

ITCA investigated hours of recorded Skype sessions obtained by ITCA’s clients’ sales representatives, in which Mr. Hieu was screen-sharing to close a cracked license sale. In these sessions, he would demonstrate the effectiveness of “his” cracks while simultaneously Skype chatting with his reference clients to add further credibility to the quality of his sales pitch.

From all their investigative work, ITCA concluded that the scope of Mr. Hieu’s product offerings went far beyond those of the clients that initially approached ITCA. Subsequently, ITCA informed its other affected customers on the matter whom immediately thereafter instructed ITCA to include them in the investigation.



Furthermore, ITCA was able to bring Mr. Hieu’s double life to the attention of his Da Nang-based employer. Specifically, ITCA presented them with evidence that Mr. Hieu was selling proprietary design-files that he sourced from them.

The ship design files sold by Mr. Hieu on the black market were blueprints that required the investment of thousands of engineering hours.

Finally, in close cooperation with his employer, ITCA’s clients and the authorities, a strategic plan was setup and executed to hold Mr. Hieu and his co-conspirators fully accountable for their actions. This plan led to the seizing of all their materials, including a list of all companies they have sold licenses to.

Currently this list of Mr. Hieu’s customers is being analyzed and a significant amount of reputable firms have been identified as buyers of cracked licenses. These companies can soon expect to be addressed separately and will face the reality of civil and criminal liability for their actions including damages, fines and prison sentences of up to five years.

Michael Viala, sales and marketing manager for ITCA client Shipconstructor Software Inc., says of this victory piracy bust, “I am pleased to see that local governments are beginning to support compliance efforts. To date, these levels of piracy have been a significant DISINCENTIVE to any real investment in markets with such blatant theft.”

This case demonstrates the perseverance of ITCA and it’s clients to pursue software piracy to its fullest extent, working together as an industry in a concerted effort to address all forms of software piracy, anywhere in the world.

About ITCA

ITCA represents the majority of industry-leading naval design software vendors, partnering as their enforcement organization that investigates and enforces copyright compliance for their firm worldwide. With software piracy posing a threat to the existence of the software industry, ITCA is available as a strategic partner to address this ever-evolving issue.

For questions regarding our services, please contact sales@itca.com.


NUPAS-CADMATIC software is a CAD/CDM engineering software system for the shipbuilding and offshore industry. NUPAS-CADMATIC provides a complete solution for the entire shipbuilding process, from initial design, preliminary design, basic design, and detailed design, up to ship production information and support during production and maintenance.
NUPAS-CADMATIC ship design software is a joint-venture product of the Dutch-based company, Numeriek Centrum Groningen B.V., and the Finland-based company, Cadmatic Oy.

For more information please visit our website, www.nupas-cadmatic.com.

About Shipconstructor Software Inc. (SSI)

SSI develops Autodesk based solutions for the shipbuilding and offshore industry. SSI’s flagship software is ShipConstructor®, an AutoCAD based CAD/CAM suite. These solutions take advantage of the native DWG platform and the global pools of experience provided by the world’s most popular CAD platform. SSI combines this with industry specific standards, terminology and best practices. IT expertise is also applied to ensure the ability to share engineering data with other business processes and applications such as MRP, ERP or PLM tools. Shipbuilders, naval architects and marine engineers trust SSI solutions on a broad range of projects. SSI solutions are flexible enough to handle the largest and most complex engineering challenges but can also be scaled down to be cost effective in any budget. The majority of US Naval warships are now built with the SSI solutions and prestigious names in global marine construction are increasingly choosing SSI to meet their needs.

For more information please visit our website, www.ssi-corporate.com.