Re: Question about copyrights and "open" standards.

Subject: Re: Question about copyrights and "open" standards.
From: Al Geist <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2006 09:43:02 -0400

I believe the original post questioned both the form factor for the board
under design and the technical data sheet for the "large" company that they
would be competing against. Computer mother boards and peripheral add-ons
come in several standard form factors, each subscribing to a certain
industry specification. All PCI boards are basically the same size and use
a standard finger layout so they can be plugged into any PCI slot on any
computer system with PCI slots. Computer system mother boards come in
various form factors, depending their end use--consumer system, workstation,
multiprocessor server, etc., but they also have standard interconnects so
you can use standard power supplies, peripheral boards and components.
Because of the "industry" standards, companies can design products that can
be added to existing systems, or replace major components in a competitor's
system. (An AMD processor driven mother board can replace an Intel
processor driven mother board.)
We are talking only about form factors here....if your company's circuit
designs and components exactly match those of your competitor, you may be in
legal limbo for copyright infringement of their hardware design. I'm not
sure if you can copyright hardware designs (I am not a lawyer), but there
have been enough high-profile lawsuits about design (intellectual property)
theft that would make me want to stay miles away from any company involved
in this type of design engineering.
Many companies copyright all their marketing literature as a matter of
practice. Most of the time it's to protect the company's brand image and
not necessarily the technical data itself, unless the hardware is
proprietary. However, if I use the same non-proprietary chips in my
products as my competitors do, does this mean my specifications cannot be
the same as those competitors because their technical data sheet is
copyrighted? No, but it does mean that I have to be able to back up the
claims I make on my technical data sheet and those claims cannot be based on
my competitors claims.
My two-cents..
Diana Ost wrote:

Geoff said:

That's the correct way to proceed. You can't use someone
else's copyrighted material "as is" without their permission.

If your manager doesn't want to do this, then you shouldn't do it.
You could cause serious trouble for --> your employer <-- if the
copyright holder decided to use the knowledge of your
existence to squash you as a competitor.

In my copy of "A Practical Guide to Copyrights and Trademarks," Frank
Andorka, the author, says:

Infringement of a copyright "willfully and for purposes of commercial
advantage or private financial gain" is a federal crime. *Persons*
guilty of infringement of copyright form most typeos ofowrks are subject
to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for up to one year.

Andorka states several times in his book that the *individual* is
responsible for copyright infringement, and I have had my attorney tell
me (when I asked about this) not to count on the fact that I was an
employee (or contractor) and was ordered to use copyrighted material
without permission to protect me.


Al Geist
Technical Writing, Online Help, Marketing Collateral, Web Design, Award
Winning Videos, Professional Photography
Voice/Msg: 802-658-3140

Cell: 802-578-3964
E-mail: [1]al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com
URL: [2] (online portfolio/resume)

See also:
URL: [3] (fine art prints for home or office and note
cards for all occasions)
"When the situation is absolutely hopeless, you have nothing to worry
Compliments of The Monkey Wrench Gang


1. mailto:al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com

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RE: Question about copyrights and "open" standards.: From: Diana Ost

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