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PICList Thread
'[PIC]: Copyright protection for schematics,'
2001\08\07@192554 by Sanjay Punjab

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I am developing some electronics technology (digital
hardware and firmware) that I will be licensing to
other companies for integration into their consumer
electronics products. Of course, I will have some type
of licensing agreement. However, I still wonder if it
is worth copyrighting my schematics and firmware. A
patent is not justified, due to cost, time and the
fact that the claims would be quite narrow. The
concern is, how easy is it for someone to slightly
modify my schematic or firmware to circumvent
copyright violation. My firmware will be protected
somewhat, since it resides internally to a PIC
microcontroller, with the code protect feature
enabled. I will be shipping pre-programmed PICs to the
licensee. But I would still like to pursue some type
of copyright, if it offers another layer of
protection. In addition, I developed a network
interface to the technology I have developed. Where
one can use a PC or any device with a RS-232 port (if
they write the appropriate software) to control and
monitor the additional functions that my technology
adds to a consumer product.
ASCII commands are sent to the unit for control
purposes. ASCII commands are sent FROM the unit for
monitoring purposes via a remote GUI. This protocol
will be public domain. The bottom line, is I want to
prevent another company from using the same network
interface protocol in their products without my
written consent. Since if they do, THEIR products will
be compatable with all the existing GUIs, I and
consumers develop, to interface with my technology in
my licensee's products. I want to legally prevent
this. Can a copyright help with this also? Thanks in

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2001\08\07@195628 by David Huisman


Which country are you in ? Here in Australia, there is a law that protects
the copyright of your PCB and Schematic the minute you have created it. You
are protected here by default.

One trick you can do if you want to prove ownership is to post the diagrams
and a PCB to yourself by registered post. Then do not open the package. In
the event of a question of ownership, you can provide a date stamped,
unopened package that contains details of your design and your signature.
If the opposing company cannot prove they had the design before the date of
your posted package, you have a good chance of winning the litigation.

This was used occasionally for protecting copyright in the music industry.


David Huisman

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2001\08\08@111202 by Micro Eng

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if the company hires an engineer and tells him..reverse engineer
does this and this...there is nothing you can do about it.  The ascii
protocal is not hidden, and kind of give this thing a command and
you get it to do this....pretty simple to reverse engineer it.

You might be better off just selling the idea and rights for a one time bulk
payment, and go onto the next neat widget....

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2001\08\08@133051 by Harold M Hallikainen

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       It is my understanding that a copyright only gives you a legal cause of
action if someone indeed COPIES your "expression of an idea." To COPY
something, someone must have had access to your work and their "copy"
must be "substantially similar." An idea itself cannot be copyrighted,
only the "fixated" expression of the idea (as in your schematic or source
code). So, it appears a copyright could prevent people from copying your
code or schematic, but not from "reverse engineering" your product or
protocol.  And, yes, I agree with WBR Dmitry: Brief answer is: Find and
visit lawyer. Especially one that specializes in intellectual property.
       By the way, did anyone else get a postcard from an IC design software
company showing a bunch of prisoners in striped clothing? The caption is
something like "Do you like doing business with criminals?" A pretty
obvious reference to their competitor (Avanti). Avanti has to pay $195
million in restitution to Cadence. Avanti co-founder was sentenced to two
years in San Quentin state prison. Three other Avanti employees were
sentenced to one year terms in the county jail. This is all for theft of
source code from Cadence.


On Tue, 7 Aug 2001 16:24:54 -0700 Sanjay Punjab <.....piclistguyKILLspamspam@spam@YAHOO.COM>
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