CompTIA Settles Suit with

Association reaches settlement on copyright, trademark infringement lawsuit filed against Keen; other vendors keeping eyes on suit, pondering similar action.

CertCities' Editor Becky Nagel reports that the Computer Technology Industry Association recently settled a copyright and trademark lawsuit it filed May 21, 2001, against Keen Interactive, owners of the site In the suit, CompTIA alleged that violated CompTIA's copyrights by selling questions that appear on CompTIA's A+ and other exams.

"We feel obliged to protect the integrity of our program," said Lutz Ziob, vice president of certification for CompTIA. The settlement requests that Keen destroy all CompTIA-related materials on the Cheet-Sheets site, compensate CompTIA for financial damages, and disclose to CompTIA customers who purchased materials on the site.

Several certification programs whose tests are also covered by materials have been keeping an eye on this suit.

"Microsoft is aware of the issues surrounding," said Anne Marie McSweeney, director of certification skills and assessment. "The value of certification resides in a given credential clearly representing a skill set and demonstrating that an individual has experience working with the technologies," she added. "Those companies and individuals who attempt to circumvent the normal process of earning a certification do a grave disservice to the industry and to themselves."

Read the full story at

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the executive editor of the 1105 Redmond Media Group's Web sites, including,, and, among others.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Sep 18, 2003 Danny holland

A good example of real certification is the ccie credential of cisco. A lab must be taken to aquire it. Unfortunatly it would make certification more expensive, but it would also leverage the worthyness of a certification. I totaly agree with the message above

Mon, Dec 10, 2001 mcdonalds near you

tooo hard help me cheet-sheets tech school to fast, work at mcdonalds going no where in life, no time to study trying to dig myself out of this not have any experience only desk top support awaits me....dont hate on the unfortunate...........

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 Mr. Joe Certified Everywhere in the World

What gives CompTIA the right and what judge allowed them this information about’s customers? That guy sounds like he’s a PAPER JUDGE!? :>)

I thought it was the government’s job to protect us consumers?

What if you’re a company like Transcender or Cram, then it’s okay to get around copyright law. All they do is change a company name or a word or two. Are they the next one to get nailed for copyright infringement? If CompTIA or MS or Novell can get the right to govern what can be used and what can’t be used then no publisher will publish another book and no writer will write one for fear of a law suit.

I mean can you imagine? Certification companies saying “Transcender(or any other one) you can’t put that word in that sentence or use this fake company name that’s on OUR COPYRIGHTED test.” It’s absurd!!! “If I sue this guy I’ll get more money and some PRESS and everyone will think I’m really something even thought I’M NOT.” -CompTIA. It sound like the computer field is turning into Nazi’s doesn’t it? What happened to our Freedoms? Can’t everyone see that this is JUST about MONEY?

Pretty soon there will be no books or any materials to study with on your own, you have to use only “MOC” type materials (That are JUNK and anyone that’s taken a MS class KNOWS it) at CERTIFIED training sites and you won’t be able to take any training materials home with you. They will only be for classroom use.

It just doesn’t make any sense what they are doing. They’re biting the hand that feeds them. The A+ is an entry-level certification. These and every other person with a certification have to prove that they can do what they are certified in. They must be, if we are even talking about A+ right now.

And the computer field can be a hard area to get into without anything, like experience. Yes nothing is better than experience but you can’t get it without something that say’s “Take a chance with me.”

CompTIA is now talking about making people get re-certified every couple of years. It sound to me like CompTIA is getting greedy and wants MORE of everyone’s money. I mean if you read there site you’ll see that even if they take everyone involved in this A+ certification circus that 12 month later you can get it back by RETESTING and CompTIA will get there MONEY from you AGAIN. And everyone will be happy again… NOT!

Thu, Oct 25, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

I think they should add in a HANDS ON 5 day test, one where you built/load a system from scratch, then have an instructor "disable/break" it. and then send you in to fix it

Sat, Oct 20, 2001 Pat Anonymous

This entire thing makes me sick. I am really angry that cheet-sheets would give COMPtia the database of those who used their services? That is a HUGE invasion of privacy. It is because the idiots in HR look for these worthless paper certifications that people have to get them to even get looked at. It did not matter to many places that I had 10 years experience in the Navy with installing and running state of the art networks I did not have a piece of paper from the likes of CompTIA or Microsoft that said I knew how to do something. So it looks like they create the problem in the first place (making people get their worthless paper) and then going after people who take advantage of study guides and such to help them get at least past the HR gatekeepers.
So a pox on CompTIA. Don't you think employers know the difference between people who have a piece of paper and those who can do? Getting that paper might get you the job but you better know the stuff if you want to keep it.
I am just very angry at the way our privacy is just taken away and for what?

Wed, Oct 17, 2001 trainer Anonymous

I agree with aclu advocate, also. It seems that if a company is "sanctioned" by a CompTia, MS or the like to provide materials like these (ie., Transcender) then all is well. They're the same darn thing! Does it somehow make them more legit because they provide explanations and point to resource information? Please...

Frankly, I feel that this whole industry and we who work within it have some serious problems. I've worked for training institutions where the sales team throws salary surveys in prospective student's faces and "guarantees" that obtaining certification will have them in upper income brackets in no time. Most of these schools are authorized by a CompTia or a Microsoft. So, even though on the one hand the "governing bodies" decry paper certs, the schools they authorize to do business under their umbrella do nothing BUT push paper certified students out the door. There is a lot of hypocrisy in all of this at many levels. I agree that in the certification process that more emphasis be given to hands on skills. But, that's not completely the answer either, because every environment you work in is different and requires a ramp up to become familiar with "how they do things." For instance, maybe your current employer is a Compaq shop and required you get a Compaq cert. Now, they go out of business and you are trying to get a job at an HP shop. Should you be disqualified from consideration because you don't have an HP cert? Of course not! The individual in this case obviously has the foundational knowledge necessary to be effective in this position, but won't get the opportunity because he lacks a piece of paper? Part of the problem in all of this is that employers have relinquished this whole training and certification piece to entities whose only goal is to make a buck - NOT to provide truly prepared people entering the workforce. Prospective employers need to return to some basics in how they evaluate job candidates asking themselves questions such as the following:

Does the individual have a solid foundation in IT skills through either actual experience, schooling, or a combination of both?

Is the individual professional in manner and the type of quality person our organization desires to have on board?

Is the individual eager to learn, trainable and willing to put in the extra time necessary to become competent in his/her job function?

If employers would get back to these basics rather than looking for people with competence in twenty different technologies, we'd all be a lot better off. The truly motivated person will do what's necessary to get the job done and the employer will be better off for it.

Sun, Oct 14, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

for years it had been college education and a proven track record of actual work experience that counted. we have been forced into the certification nonsense. I have lost positions and contracts because of not having one certification or the other, despite the fact that I have graduate degrees in computer science and technology as well as information systems, with 12 years experience. I have lost out because the certification was a litmus test. I say ditch all the certification. go to college and get a real education and the industry needs to get back to education and proven experience and not some lame certification. I am tired of hearing, you have a great education and solid experience, but the position requires this certification or that.

Sun, Oct 14, 2001 Dan Tx

I'm glad to hear that legal action is being taken against these vendors who profit from degrading the CompTIA certificatons. Other companines like Microsoft, Novell, etc. need to follow CompTIA's lead.

Sat, Oct 13, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

There are just too many "Exam Prep" aids out there - - as other folks have stated - experience is what counts - the various certifications certainly have some value - even if an "exam aid" was used - where does one draw the line - EXAM CRAMS - Osbourne's series of books - Trancenders - - and as far as giving "customers" names - I see a BIG FAT CLASS ACTION SUITE AGAINST COMPTIA and KEENE.

Fri, Oct 12, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

It is difficult to tell legit test simaultion providers from copyright violators. I bought cheet sheets because they were the cheapest. The worst part is I knew the stuff...

Fri, Oct 12, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Agreed with the aclu advocate.

For CompTIA to ask for confidential customer lists and get them, would mean no training vehicle is safe. ATECs, CTECs, BOOTCAMPS and the like. Will CompTIA and other vendors now start to perform NAZI RAIDS on these venues as well? Havew we not had enough terror and distress in these current times.


If you are testing to be a computer repair person, make them build it break it and have them fix it…
If you are testing to be a network admin, put them in the environment and let them admin it…
If you are testing to be a network designer, give them a requirement and let them design it…
If you are testing to be a network implementor, give them the design and let them implement it…
If you are testing to be a developer, hand them an application specification and let the write the program…


Thu, Oct 11, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

I have been in this industry for over two decades and I have never seen anything this nuts.
I have never had any CompTIA certifications and have no plans on ever getting them, but I am fully certified with other vendors, Banyan (no longer around), Dell, Gateway, Compaq, HP, Novell, Microsoft, Sun, Oracle. I have no idea how CompTIA certifications came to prominence, but wait, I do. It was the people who had taken the tests and went into the industry. Regardless of how they prepared for it. I remember when CompTIA first started this mess, these things where for NEWBEE computer repair folks, no experience needed. My take on this was, who are these folks, who produce nothing tangible for the industry, to provide a certification track already provided by the legitimate computer and OS manufacturers. For years, CompTIA has allowed this (milking it for all its worth), now that they are a multimillion dollar a year company (feeling they are potentially losing money on the retest fees of those who fail the first round) and the industry has accepted this trash as valid, like a pit bull they turn on the folks who have striven to get this wrapper and made CompTIA owners millionaires. They have being buying up other testing vehicles as well, like The Chauncey's (CTT) Certified Technical Trainer and simply making up the rest. What qualifies them to own and prepare this. What's Next ??? Now with this tie in to the (MCSA) Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator Certification, this is just too scary.
If you want to be computer certified, get your certification from Dell, Gateway, Compaq and HP directly. Skip CompTIA.
If you want to be engineer certified, get your certification from CISCO, Microsoft, Novell, Unix, Linux, directly. Skip CompTIA.
I know if it were me and I discovered they had my information without my consent, I sue them until they were out of business.
With the plethora of identity theft, your information, including credit card information and purchase history would be handed over to some whom you did not authorize. What do they plan on doing with it? Who do they plan on selling / sharing this VERY VALUABLE INFORMATION to / with? I would like to see CompTIA go under investigation to determine how many of there own staff, with CompTIA certifications and other industry certifications, to determine who got theirs by less than traditional means and have that information distributed globally. As well as what the credentials are of the folks who founded/manage the company and produce the tests. Stopping the people who PRODUCE this plagiarized copyrighted materials should be their only purpose and right, not the people who may have purchased it. There is a saying; 'If you build it they will come', well them same goes for any publicly offered product., appears to be a public business and the public has the right to purchase from such public businesses. CHEETSHEETS.COM IS THE CULPRIT IN THIS ISSUE , so be it, deal with them, prevent them for doing the dastardly deed, LEAVE THE CUSTOMERS ALONE. For you folks out there who are affected by this thing with CompTIA, my condolences, BOYCOTT THEM, that's your right, and let them fade away. A firm supporter of the ACLU and personal privacy protection.

Thu, Oct 11, 2001 DJ Irvine

Experience is what's counts not a piece of paper.

Thu, Oct 11, 2001 RJ California

I hope that CompTIA is sucessful in its suit. However, what I would like to see is the certification provider create real live based exams similiar to Cisco's CCIE lab exam. This is the only way to eliminate cheaters and enhance the value of any certification.

Thu, Oct 11, 2001 Steve Roscoe ONTARIO

Ill agree to a point, What about all of us that are trting to get into the It field and all we have is what we got from school.. It appears you are cutting us off at the knees, A test is fine but there has to be some level ground here....

Thu, Oct 11, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

the whole certification thing is just a benchmark for employers to gage the ability of a person applying for a position. If I was hiring, I would ensure that the candidates pass an internal exam. A test based on actual labs where problem solving and real world exprience comes into focus. Any employer that hires blindly based only on certifications is begging for under qualified staff and you can guess the end results. There are no substitutions for experience, no matter what type of certifications you hold, I have 6.

Thu, Oct 11, 2001 Petko Anonymous

That's good news. I am with CompTIA. This case will set a precedent and if CompTIA wins, this will means all cheat sites will have to rethink their programs.

Wed, Oct 10, 2001 Rich Anonymous

Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be stopped. These companies merely give all access to the “inside” exam information. I have seen this firsthand. A Microsoft Solution Provider requires all consultants to acquire the MCSD. Inevitably, they end up talking with a team member who has taken the test. They do anything from stomp their foot to saying, "this is on the test."

In order to "purify" the testing process, MS would have to severely penalizing ANY sharing of ANY test related material. Still, this could be done "informally." So the individuals who have access to “experienced” test takers will be at a huge advantage. I believe the way things are now is the lesser of two evils.

In the end, certification simply means you passed a certain exam or set of exams. It does not mean you have the formal education, experience, analytical ability or discipline to be considered a professional.


Tue, Oct 9, 2001 Bob Anonymous

it's about time that companies like these get nailed. they help make the industry a paper certification. I hope they go after other company that I hear about, starts with T and ends with C.

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