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How do I protect my design from being RIPPED OFF?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by rylmp2k1, Apr 13, 2007.

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  1. rylmp2k1

    rylmp2k1 Guest

    I devised a unique electronic product which I sell on eBay.

    Sometime ago someone "reverse engineered" my circuit and produced his
    own device copying my slogan name and specs.

    He gets his stuff manufactured in bulk and can compete alongside me in
    terms of price.

    I am now forced to consider producing a better product, but don't want
    to see history repeat itself again.

    What can I do?
    ..
    Thanks
    rylmp2k1
     
  2. You could sue, but that would probably be a waste of time and money. You
    can waste your money on patents and lawyers next time, but unless you think
    your invention is worth millions I wouldn't bother. I think your best bet
    is to keep inventing newer and better products from now on. You will win by
    always being ahead of the competition.
     
  3. Puckdropper

    Puckdropper Guest

    Look into patents and copyright. If the fellow copies your design again,
    you've probably got legal rights. Discuss this with a lawer, though,
    legal advice on Usenet is worth what it cost to post your message.

    Puckdropper
     
  4. See Don Lancaster's comments http://www.tinaja.com/

    "For most individuals and small scale startups, patents are virtually
    certain to result in a net loss of time, energy, money, and sanity. One
    reason for this is the outrageously wrong urban lore involving patents and
    patenting. A second involves the outright scams which inevitably surround
    "inventions" and "inventing".

    A third is that the economic breakeven needed to recover patent costs is
    something between $12,000,000.00 and $40,000,000 in gross sales.

    It is ludicrously absurd to try and patent a million dollar idea. This
    library explores many tested and fully proven real-world alternates to
    patents and patenting."

    Read the rest : http://www.tinaja.com/patnt01.asp
     
  5. What the hell are you talking about. WTF said a patent costs that much?

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/patent_cost.html

    The majority of the cost is due to lawyers. Patents need to have a very
    precise terminology. If you got a million dollar gadget and want to patent
    it then you will surely save money in the long run if you end up with a
    monopoly on the market. It all depends.

    Ofcourse I don't see what the original poster has a problem with? He likes
    to sale crap instead of being innovative? He wants to market the only device
    and doesn't care if its not the best that can be done? I always thought
    patents were to expensive but if most inventors have views like his then
    maybe they should be more expensive. Competition is a good thing... ofcouse
    outright theft should be taken care too.

    The problem is not the patents but the lawyers... and it gets worse every
    season. You can no longer protect your ideas because the lawyers are going
    to **** you in all the holes.
     
  6. And what the hell is wrong with that? You have nothing better to do with
    your time and money? No offense but it sounds like your a lazy bum.

    I can understand not wanting some theft to get away with it but you sound
    almost as bad as wanting to create a new and better product. So you force
    people who use your product to use something that is not as good as it could
    be. Even if you had a monopoly on the market I think its your moral duty to
    make sure the product is as good as it can be for the cost. Ofcourse chances
    are that if you have a monopoly you'll inflate the price a few thousand
    percent.

    I think all and all the outcome was probably best for everyone except the
    theif. In no way have I ever considered theft a good thing but you seemed to
    have made me realize that it can be a good thing(in some sense).
     
  7. What you have to be careful of is whether you have that much claim to
    the device.

    It's actually pretty hard to "invent something new". If it really is
    so radical, then one would have taken steps beforehand to protect it.
    But chances are this is derived in some way from someone else's work,
    and thus you'd have little claim to protect this anyway. INdeed,
    you might be open to someone else's claim that you have used their
    work.

    Not knowing that something has a patent on it doesn't forgive you.
    ANd over the years, I've seen lots of posts from people wanting to
    manufacture something they've taken out of a book or magazine, and
    have never given thought to whether or not they have the right to
    manufacture such a thing.

    There isn't a lot you can do to protect the circuitry. The error
    over the years that many small companies have made is that if they
    do things to make the circuit hard to trace, it really just cuts
    down on the individual who might make their own copy. If someone
    can see a profit in the device, then they will spend the effort
    to trace out the circuit, and get around any stuff you've done in
    an attempt to make it untraceable. They have far more incentive
    than the individual wanting to make their own copy, because a business
    has the funds and the potential profit to offset the trouble and
    cost of tracing the circuitry.

    Small companies have done lots to ensure they keep customers, which
    have nothing to do with hiding details. Become a company that people
    want to do business with, that they'll tell your friends to buy from.
    COme up with an official looking gold ribbon to "authenticate" your
    product, if it really is so unique; in the sixties some kind of
    copyright error resulted in "Lord of the Rings" being public domain
    (or something like that) and Tolkien made much fuss over the fact
    that one was the "authorized" publisher, that he would get paid
    by. Create something of value that goes with the product, that
    can't readily be duplicated.

    MIchael
     
  8. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Where do you live. The laws differ.

    Graham
     
  9. Indeed.
    A patent does not stop someone ripping off your design, it simply
    gives you the right to sue them if they do, and patent law suits
    *start* at 7 figures.

    Dave.
     
  10. The patent itself is not (that) expensive, but protecting it *is*.

    Dave.
     
  11. There are many ways to protect your design from being reverse
    engineered, but it depends on how complex the concept is. If it's a
    simple concept then it's easy to "reverse engineer" just from your
    specs and idea. If it's complex and they have to resort to copying and/
    or analysing your code or circuits etc then that is easier to protect.
    You can do stuff like using protected micro's for functions that
    wouldn't normally need one, rub numbers off chips, encase the product
    in potting compound etc

    Unless you want to threaten this guy with an expensive law suit
    (almost certainly a stupid idea), the only thing you do is either
    bring out a better product that is better protected, or simply try to
    beat him on price for the current product some how.

    Dave.
     
  12. BobG

    BobG Guest

    =====================================
    Show us the link to the gadget so we can tell if we want to buy it. I
    bet we could tell you if it was unique and unobvious to practitioners
    in the field (us!).
     
  13. How hard is it to prove one of these cases though? Obviously if someone
    ripped off your idea and is making money on it... say something like a
    circuit then it shouldn't be hard to prove at all? (unless they went well
    out of there way to make it look different)

    It would seem like in the case of the OP(small time stuff) that it wouldn't
    be difficult to prove and the case would be much easier? The expense seems
    to be due almost to the lawyers fat heads than anything else. As far as I'm
    concerned lawyers are not worth their weight in cow dung.
     
  14. I agree with those sentiments, but unfortunately that's just the way
    it works. That's the way it is here in Australia, and I'm pretty sure
    the same (or even worse?) in the US. That's what Don Lancaster is
    trying to get at with his article.
    If you want to take someone through the patent litigation process and
    win then that's what it costs, there is no such thing as a "small
    time" patent suit.

    But of course you can have a go at threatening someone with legal
    action, making them think you've got the money, and hope they back
    down. Wave the patent in their face and see what happens ;-)

    If the "thief" has simply copied the OP's design which he
    automatically has copyright too, then that is much cheaper and easier
    to prosecute than a patent.

    Dave.
     
  15. There is no escape. As I had to "reverse engineer?!" designs and
    cirquits over years, what we found is, many times it takes less effort
    to start from zero and design for actual performance than to copy
    existing design, not knowing what hickups you encounter.

    And "history repeats itself" since "In the begining..."(Genesis).

    HTH

    Stanislaw
     
  16. There's truth to that, because there are lots of ways of accomplishing
    something, but until someone sees a need to create/invent something,
    nobody will see that need. Hence, once someone comes up with a "Pet Rock",
    it's really easy to duplicate because it's obvious that such things
    will sell like hotcakes.

    Look at all the knock-off fashion places, that have reasonably priced
    reasonable facsimiles of the dresses worn at the Oscar ceremonies,
    two days later.

    Michael
     
  17. See this http://www.derbygripe.co.uk/muggers.htm

    Note INTERMITTENT WINDSCREEN WIPER Inventor: Robert Kearns in particular.

    All a patent does is let you go to court.
     

  18. If thats the case then theres no justice at all. You have to pay around 20k+
    just to go to court? I thought it was everyones right?

    The reason its hard is not because the patent(although it is excessively
    expensive) but because the lawyers want to sink there teeth into anything
    they can. It will only get worse because, as everyone knows, lawyers just
    get greeder and greeder. I know what your thinking but I guess theres no
    limit to greed.
     
  19. Sure. Note what happened when Sony and Disney wanted protection. The
    congress weasels couldn't change the law fast enough. I'm sure Sonny Bono
    would still be getting "campaign contributions" if he hadn't eaten a tree
    while checking out some chick's ass.
     
  20. Wim Lewis

    Wim Lewis Guest

    In that case, look into whether you have a copyright or trademark case.
    If the guy copied the physical layout of your circuit or the exact
    design of your case, you might have a copyright case. If he's selling
    something in such a way that a buyer might think they're buying your widget
    but are actually buying the other guy's widget, then you might have
    a trademark case, or you might be able to register a trademark for
    your next product. Maybe you could ask in a legal newsgroup like
    misc.legal[.moderated], or find a book on the subject, like Nolo Press's
    series of legal books for non-lawyers.
    This is true. I think that, oftentimes, the risky and innovative step
    is figuring out what unmet need exists (or in the case of pet rocks,
    an unmet non-need?). But that's not a protectable discovery, unlike
    the product you come up with to meet that need, which might be patentable
    or whatever. But once the need is recognized, there might be a zillion
    different obvious ways to meet it.
     
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