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'Protocol for PICS Start Plus'
1999\01\09@094328 by Howard McGinnis

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Is the protocol for the PICS Start Plus serial communication published anywhere?

Howard
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1999\01\09@095826 by Jim Robertson

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At 09:41 9/01/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Is the protocol for the PICS Start Plus serial communication published
anywhere?
>
>Howard

No, it isn't.

Jim

>---------------------------------------------------------------------
>Howard McGinnis                   Electronic Visions, Inc
>.....hmcginniKILLspamspam@spam@digital.net            1650 Barrett Drive
>(407) 632-7530                      Rockledge FL 32955
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>
--------------------------------------------------------
Jim Robertson
Email: newfoundspamKILLspampipeline.com.au

http://www.pipeline.com.au/users/newfound
--------------------------------------------------------

1999\01\09@105515 by Scott Dattalo

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On Sun, 10 Jan 1999, Jim Robertson wrote:

> At 09:41 9/01/99 -0500, you wrote:
> >Is the protocol for the PICS Start Plus serial communication published
> anywhere?
> >
> >Howard
>
> No, it isn't.

But it will soon be cracked. I know at least one person who is working on
it. I know another person has volunteered to write the Linux driver for
it. My guess is that the protocol will be available in March and that the
driver will be availabe around May. But - this is just my guess. If anyone
else cares to work on this, then please contact me or post to the gnupic
mailing list.

Scott

1999\01\11@025954 by Dr. Imre Bartfai

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Hi,
if it will be available, please tell it. I am very interested for it.
Imre


On Sat, 9 Jan 1999, Scott Dattalo wrote:

{Quote hidden}

1999\01\11@032908 by Tjaart van der Walt

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> > But it will soon be cracked. I know at least one person who is working on
> > it. I know another person has volunteered to write the Linux driver for
> > it. My guess is that the protocol will be available in March and that the
> > driver will be availabe around May. But - this is just my guess. If anyone
> > else cares to work on this, then please contact me or post to the gnupic
> > mailing list.

I've had a look at the comms, but haven't put in enough
effort to crack it myself. If someone has, I'd be most
grateful for the information.

I am a bit sick of all the MLAB features when using
the damn programmer, so some small app that can
communicate without errors, and one that I can
actually understand, would be my next move there...

Now that I think about it, there is no reason why one
shouldn't be able to also program a SX with a bit of
tinkering for those poor souls who can't afford a SX key...

I thing I can feel a lawsuit coming on...

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1999\01\11@082439 by Jim Robertson

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At 10:36 11/01/99 +0200, you wrote:

>
>Now that I think about it, there is no reason why one
>shouldn't be able to also program a SX with a bit of
>tinkering for those poor souls who can't afford a SX key...

Now there's an idea. In fact I thought of it this morning as I
handed over my credit card number in exchange for
a couple of senix chips.

Don't know if using this picstart plus is a good idea,
sounds very cheeky to me. Don't think It can be done
without tinkering as you suggested as that would be
a breach of copyright.

Jim


{Quote hidden}

--------------------------------------------------------
Jim Robertson
Email: KILLspamnewfoundKILLspamspampipeline.com.au

http://www.pipeline.com.au/users/newfound
--------------------------------------------------------

1999\01\11@085744 by Tjaart van der Walt

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Jim Robertson wrote:
>
> At 10:36 11/01/99 +0200, you wrote:
>
> >
> >Now that I think about it, there is no reason why one
> >shouldn't be able to also program a SX with a bit of
> >tinkering for those poor souls who can't afford a SX key...
>
> Now there's an idea. In fact I thought of it this morning as I
> handed over my credit card number in exchange for
> a couple of senix chips.
Money well spent ;)

> Don't know if using this picstart plus is a good idea,
> sounds very cheeky to me. Don't think It can be done
> without tinkering as you suggested as that would be
> a breach of copyright.

Do you think it would violate the copyright? It would
be like scribbling in a magazine -  you are changing
the look of the magazine, but not selling it under
the original name. Hmmm. Does anyone on the list
know for sure?

I'm quite sure it would be illegal to write some
driver to hook the SX Key into MPLAB. Coming to
think about it - I have never had the Scenix IDE
drop down on me, but MPLAB falls over on a daily
basis. Grrrrrrrr.


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1999\01\11@141341 by Gerhard Fiedler

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At 15:58 01/11/99 +0200, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>I'm quite sure it would be illegal to write some
>driver to hook the SX Key into MPLAB. Coming to
>think about it - I have never had the Scenix IDE
>drop down on me, but MPLAB falls over on a daily
>basis. Grrrrrrrr.

really? why would it be a violation of copyright (or any other law) to
write and sell an addition or enhancement to any program (or hardware
device)? is it then a violation of copyright if a program uses undocumented
features of a commercial operating system (i believe this is common in the
windows world, and it seems to me to be a variation of the case in question)?

ge

1999\01\11@171110 by Andy Kunz

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At 11:11 AM 1/11/99 -0800, you wrote:
>At 15:58 01/11/99 +0200, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>>I'm quite sure it would be illegal to write some
>>driver to hook the SX Key into MPLAB. Coming to
>>think about it - I have never had the Scenix IDE
>>drop down on me, but MPLAB falls over on a daily
>>basis. Grrrrrrrr.
>
>really? why would it be a violation of copyright (or any other law) to
>write and sell an addition or enhancement to any program (or hardware
>device)? is it then a violation of copyright if a program uses undocumented
>features of a commercial operating system (i believe this is common in the
>windows world, and it seems to me to be a variation of the case in question)?

The patent system is based upon this principle.  However, note that if you
are not careful you could end up owing a royalty for inadvertently using
patented / copyrighted portions.

Check to see what's copyrighted and patented in the system you clone.  If
it's just the schematic, you are pretty much home free.  If they keep it a
trade secret, they lose, not you!

Andy


==================================================================
Andy Kunz - Statistical Research, Inc. - Westfield, New Jersey USA
==================================================================

1999\01\11@171115 by dave vanhorn

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At 11:11 AM 1/11/99 -0800, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>At 15:58 01/11/99 +0200, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>>I'm quite sure it would be illegal to write some
>>driver to hook the SX Key into MPLAB.

I can't imagine why. As long as YOU don't distribute copies of MPLAB.
If a person has a copy from uChip, then they are free to do anything with
it that isn't specifically forbidden in the agreement between themselves
and Microchip.

We had a case where our competition used our downloading software to load
their products. They reverse engineered our protocol, and they had their
customers buy our loader. Our reaction was "Why didn't you ask, we would
have told you the protocol!".  We had no problem with it whatsoever.

1999\01\11@204919 by Gerhard Fiedler

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At 17:08 01/11/99 -0500, Andy Kunz wrote:
>At 11:11 AM 1/11/99 -0800, you wrote:
>>At 15:58 01/11/99 +0200, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>>>I'm quite sure it would be illegal to write some
>>>driver to hook the SX Key into MPLAB. Coming to
>>>think about it - I have never had the Scenix IDE
>>>drop down on me, but MPLAB falls over on a daily
>>>basis. Grrrrrrrr.
>>
>>really? why would it be a violation of copyright (or any other law) to
>>write and sell an addition or enhancement to any program (or hardware
>>device)? is it then a violation of copyright if a program uses undocumented
>>features of a commercial operating system (i believe this is common in the
>>windows world, and it seems to me to be a variation of the case in question)?
>
>The patent system is based upon this principle.

sorry, i don't understand upon which principle and how this relates to the
question.

>However, note that if you
>are not careful you could end up owing a royalty for inadvertently using
>patented / copyrighted portions.

how can an unpublished protocol (i guess that's been the original issue
here) be copyrighted or patented?

>Check to see what's copyrighted and patented in the system you clone.

as far as i understood, it was not about cloning, it was about adding, like
adding a scenix driver to mplab or adding a dos- or unix-interface to drive
the picstart+. in neither case there seems to be anything published about
the respective interfaces, so i don't understand how the interface could be
copyrighted.

ge

1999\01\12@082256 by Tjaart van der Walt

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Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>
> >However, note that if you
> >are not careful you could end up owing a royalty for inadvertently using
> >patented / copyrighted portions.
>
> how can an unpublished protocol (i guess that's been the original issue
> here) be copyrighted or patented?

I think there could be a copyright on the protocol, so you can't go
out and build programmers using it. You might have to pay some
royalty. Case in point : I2C. Philips exempted the master algorithms,
but not the slave algorithms.

> >Check to see what's copyrighted and patented in the system you clone.
>
> as far as i understood, it was not about cloning, it was about adding, like
> adding a scenix driver to mplab or adding a dos- or unix-interface to drive
> the picstart+. in neither case there seems to be anything published about
> the respective interfaces, so i don't understand how the interface could be
> copyrighted.

Is there someone with a lawyer friend (contradiction in terms?)
who can find out how the US law feels about this?

Personally, the interest in this is academic for me (I have
a SX Key), but I would like to see more people gain access
to Scenix without the initial cost of the tools. It would
also be nice to have less things clutter your bench, now
wouldn't it?

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1999\01\12@090606 by Andy Kunz

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>>>really? why would it be a violation of copyright (or any other law) to
>>>write and sell an addition or enhancement to any program (or hardware
>>>device)? is it then a violation of copyright if a program uses undocumented
>>>features of a commercial operating system (i believe this is common in the
>>>windows world, and it seems to me to be a variation of the case in
question)?
>>
>>The patent system is based upon this principle.
>
>sorry, i don't understand upon which principle and how this relates to the
>question.

A patent requires "new" technology in order to be valid.  New means 10%
original.  How to define 10% is the sticky part.  But if you develop a
patentable update to something, you still can't sell it without the
original guy's permission, unless you are selling an "upgrade kit."

>>However, note that if you
>>are not careful you could end up owing a royalty for inadvertently using
>>patented / copyrighted portions.
>
>how can an unpublished protocol (i guess that's been the original issue
>here) be copyrighted or patented?

That's where "trade secret" comes into play.  If you don't disclose
something, it can be considered "trade secret."  People are free to reverse
engineer that, even if it _could_ be patented but wasn't.

Companies must choose between trade secret protection or patent/copyright
protection for their products.

>the picstart+. in neither case there seems to be anything published about
>the respective interfaces, so i don't understand how the interface could be
>copyrighted.

Not published doesn't mean something isn't copyrighted.  A language spoken
between two devices is considered patentable, but usually not copyrighted.

The author of a work is automatically granted a copyright for his work (for
the source code, or which the object is a "derivative work," not for how it
speaks to a device).  So the interface, or language, is not copyrighted but
_could_ be patented.  If not patented, the company can consider it trade
secret.  Then so long as you reverse engineer it (ie, not steal the
company's internal documentation) you are free to sell your product without
recourse from the originator.

And all of this only matters if there is sufficient financial reason for
the original company to feel threatened by your actions, or if you happen
to have morals/ethics about it.

Andy

Disclaimer - I'm not a lawyer.

  \-----------------/
   \     /---\     /
    \    |   |    /          Andy Kunz
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1999\01\12@103206 by Gerhard Fiedler

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At 06:46 01/12/99 +0200, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>>
>> >However, note that if you
>> >are not careful you could end up owing a royalty for inadvertently using
>> >patented / copyrighted portions.
>>
>> how can an unpublished protocol (i guess that's been the original issue
>> here) be copyrighted or patented?
>
>I think there could be a copyright on the protocol, so you can't go
>out and build programmers using it. You might have to pay some
>royalty. Case in point : I2C. Philips exempted the master algorithms,
>but not the slave algorithms.

agreeing with you that at this point a lawyer or somebody with legal
experience is needed for an answer, i just wanted to add that i thought of
that example, but there is one crucial difference: the i2c protocol is
published. i'm not sure whether you can copyright unpublished material at
all. and that's why this question is interesting, because this has quite a
broad scope.

ge

1999\01\12@115442 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
At 09:00 01/12/99 -0500, Andy Kunz wrote:
>That's where "trade secret" comes into play.  If you don't disclose
>something, it can be considered "trade secret."  People are free to reverse
>engineer that, even if it _could_ be patented but wasn't.

as far as i understand it, copyright is automatic if it applies, but patent
not. so the fact that something could be patented has no legal implications
(other than that it could be patented). or am i wrong here?


{Quote hidden}

so back to the original question about problems with using the (obviously
neither patented nor otherwise published) protocol between the picstart+
and the driver software: when i apply your reasoning, it seems that there
is no reason to expect legal troubles writing a driver software which uses
the protocol to speak to the programmer, and neither a problem with writing
a driver for using the picstart+ to program whatever other chip it was not
originally designed for: because the protocol may or not be patentable, but
in any case isn't patented, and copyright would be on the original code
(both driver software and firmware), but not on the protocol itself.

ge

1999\01\12@141528 by Andy Kunz

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>so back to the original question about problems with using the (obviously
>neither patented nor otherwise published) protocol between the picstart+
>and the driver software: when i apply your reasoning, it seems that there
>is no reason to expect legal troubles writing a driver software which uses
>the protocol to speak to the programmer, and neither a problem with writing
>a driver for using the picstart+ to program whatever other chip it was not
>originally designed for: because the protocol may or not be patentable, but
>in any case isn't patented, and copyright would be on the original code
>(both driver software and firmware), but not on the protocol itself.

correct.

Just don't disassemble code in order to figure out how it works.  Observe
the communications and work from tehre, just to be sure.

This is called "Clean Room" development.

Andy


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1999\01\12@172638 by Russell McMahon

picon face
I would have thought, no doubt naively, that if you purchased the
proprietary system (eg PICSTART Plus) OR/AND if you had rights to the
software (eg MPLAB) then you would be entitled to use them as you saw
fit as long as you did not decompile, reverse engineer etc.

Please tell me why I'm wrong.



       Russell McMahon


Subject: Re: Protocol for PICS Start Plus


>At 17:08 01/11/99 -0500, Andy Kunz wrote:
>>At 11:11 AM 1/11/99 -0800, you wrote:
>>>At 15:58 01/11/99 +0200, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>>>>I'm quite sure it would be illegal to write some
>>>>driver to hook the SX Key into MPLAB. Coming to
>>>>think about it - I have never had the Scenix IDE
>>>>drop down on me, but MPLAB falls over on a daily
>>>>basis. Grrrrrrrr.
>>>
>>>really? why would it be a violation of copyright (or any other
law) to
>>>write and sell an addition or enhancement to any program (or
hardware
>>>device)? is it then a violation of copyright if a program uses
undocumented
>>>features of a commercial operating system (i believe this is
common in the
>>>windows world, and it seems to me to be a variation of the case in
question)?
>>
>>The patent system is based upon this principle.
>
>sorry, i don't understand upon which principle and how this relates
to the
>question.
>
>>However, note that if you
>>are not careful you could end up owing a royalty for inadvertently
using
>>patented / copyrighted portions.
>
>how can an unpublished protocol (i guess that's been the original
issue
>here) be copyrighted or patented?
>
>>Check to see what's copyrighted and patented in the system you
clone.
>
>as far as i understood, it was not about cloning, it was about
adding, like
>adding a scenix driver to mplab or adding a dos- or unix-interface
to drive
>the picstart+. in neither case there seems to be anything published
about
>the respective interfaces, so i don't understand how the interface
could be
>copyrighted.
>
>ge
>

1999\01\12@233443 by Tjaart van der Walt

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Russell McMahon wrote:
>
> I would have thought, no doubt naively, that if you purchased the
> proprietary system (eg PICSTART Plus) OR/AND if you had rights to the
> software (eg MPLAB) then you would be entitled to use them as you saw
> fit as long as you did not decompile, reverse engineer etc.
>
> Please tell me why I'm wrong.

I don't think you are. I had a look in all the 'about'
boxes in MPLAB, and I couldn't see anything about license
issues, only copyright notices.

However, buying (or getting for free in this case) does
not give one 'rights' to software - only the right to
use it.

One thing is for certain - Mchip will shake, rattle and
roll when someone releases a PICstart+ driver for SX chips.
I don't have the cash to play legal games (remember how
Mchip tried to out-sue Scenix?) with Mchip. I'll just sit
in this corner over here, and watch things with a grin.

I lied - another thing is for certain - someone will write
such a driver (even if it is just for the fun of it).

--
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1999\01\13@035826 by Caisson

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> Van: Jim Robertson <RemoveMEnewfoundEraseMEspamEraseMEPIPELINE.COM.AU>
> Aan: RemoveMEPICLISTspam_OUTspamKILLspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU

Hello Jim,

> Onderwerp: Re: Protocol for PICS Start Plus
> Datum: maandag 11 januari 1999 14:26
>
> At 10:36 11/01/99 +0200, you wrote:

<Snip>

> Don't know if using this picstart plus is a good idea,
> sounds very cheeky to me. Don't think It can be done
> without tinkering as you suggested as that would be
> a breach of copyright.

As long as you do it to stuff you own you can do allmost anything with it
you like (here in the Netherlands) as long as you keep owning it (don't
sell / give away).

AFAIK it's not illegal to propose certain changes to existing software.
Even if you reverse-engeneered the code you made the patch for ...

Greetz,
 Rudy Wieser

1999\01\13@134724 by Scott Dattalo

face
flavicon
face
Tjaart van der Walt wrote:
>
> Russell McMahon wrote:
> >
> > I would have thought, no doubt naively, that if you purchased the
> > proprietary system (eg PICSTART Plus) OR/AND if you had rights to the
> > software (eg MPLAB) then you would be entitled to use them as you saw
> > fit as long as you did not decompile, reverse engineer etc.
> >
> > Please tell me why I'm wrong.
>
> I don't think you are. I had a look in all the 'about'
> boxes in MPLAB, and I couldn't see anything about license
> issues, only copyright notices.

I contacted Microchip a while back about this issue. This is what I was
told:

1) The Picstart+ protocol can not be released mainly because of 'legal
reasons'. I don't know what those legal reasons are, but I presume that
refer to some contract with the developer of Picstart+. A secondary
reason is that Microchip doesn't want to just 'give away' its tools to
the competition.


2) As long as I don't use Microchip's name without permission and make
it clear that people that use my hacks are doing so at their own risk
THEN there 'probably' is not much Microchip can legally do. ('probably'
was the word they used.)



> One thing is for certain - Mchip will shake, rattle and
> roll when someone releases a PICstart+ driver for SX chips.
> I don't have the cash to play legal games (remember how
> Mchip tried to out-sue Scenix?) with Mchip. I'll just sit
> in this corner over here, and watch things with a grin.

I really don't think Microchip cares one way or another. This is really
small potatoes compared to the grand scheme of things. In my opinion,
Microchip stands to benefit when the Picstart protocol has been reverse
engineered. Because this means that everyone will be able to use the
Picstart+ programmer under their OS of choice.

> I lied - another thing is for certain - someone will write
> such a driver (even if it is just for the fun of it).

Perhaps. But this would require tinkering with the Picstart programmer
and not just the protocol.

Scott

1999\01\14@025738 by Caisson

flavicon
face
> Van: Russell McMahon <RemoveMEapptechTakeThisOuTspamspamCLEAR.NET.NZ>
> Aan: EraseMEPICLISTspamspamspamBeGoneMITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Onderwerp: Re: Protocol for PICS Start Plus
> Datum: dinsdag 12 januari 1999 4:12
>
> I would have thought, no doubt naively, that if you purchased the
> proprietary system (eg PICSTART Plus) OR/AND if you had rights to the
> software (eg MPLAB) then you would be entitled to use them as you saw
> fit as long as you did not decompile, reverse engineer etc.

In these day's you don't _buy_ software.  You are buying a licence to _use_
the software.  The software itself is still owned by whomever created it.

Using non-descibed features of a software package _could_ be seen as a
infringement on the licence you purchased ...

Greetz,
 Rudy Wieser

1999\01\14@043222 by wwl

picon face
On Wed, 13 Jan 1999 10:16:14 -0800, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Remember that the object code in Picstart is available for
'investigation' as they distributed as an update for users of early
firmware - I think it's in several MPLAB distributions.

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