Connect with us

protecting circuit design

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Rob, Sep 18, 2003.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. Rob

    Rob Guest

    I have designed a simple circuitry to resolve a problem. I want to
    mass produce it as a product for sale. However, I do not want to
    produce it on an unprotected PCB board for fear of being copied. I
    would like to hear your opinion about what might be the solution.
    Thanks!
     
  2. There isn't one.

    Kevin Aylward

    http://www.anasoft.co.uk
    SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode
    Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture,
    Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design.
     
  3. CWatters

    CWatters Guest

    If it's a simple circuit you can only really hope to slow dow the process of
    discovery.
     
  4. Mjolinor

    Mjolinor Guest

    Options

    1) Lock it in a cupboard and show it no one, very effective from a copying
    point of view but it's hard to make money using this method.

    2) Put it in an ASIC, very expensive and still copiable but expensive to
    copy.

    3) Remove all identifying marks from all components. Make all PCB tracks as
    thin, convoluted and weak as you can then pot the lot in the stickiest
    hardest smelliest compound you can find. Wants to be rock hard at room
    temperature but emit copious quantitious of acrid smoke when heated and be
    totally un-removable from clothes and skin once it's on there. Make it on
    two PCBs that are components together when assembled so that the chances are
    they break when people try to get the resin off. and the PCBs apart.

    That is coming from someone who will try to mend anything that's broken.
    Those points are the ones that make my heart sink when I am trying to get at
    the bloody things.
     
  5. It can't be done. It is not necessary to copy the electronics exactly.
    Once the function of the device is apparent it would be easy to
    duplicate the functionality of it.
     
  6. It can't be done. It is not necessary to copy the electronics exactly.
    Once the function of the device is apparent it would be easy to
    duplicate the functionality of it.
     
  7. |
    | I have designed a simple circuitry to resolve a problem. I want to
    | mass produce it as a product for sale. However, I do not want to
    | produce it on an unprotected PCB board for fear of being copied. I
    | would like to hear your opinion about what might be the solution.
    |
    |

    Depending upon which country you are in, copyright is usually automatic
    and not need to actually claim it. Some countries suggests the item be
    marked up with a copyright sign and perhaps your company name. If
    additional protection is needed, some manufacturers scrub off the
    numbers from the IC's and transistors, others pot the whole PCB.


    --
    Regards,
    Harry (M1BYT)...

    Remove the 'NOSPAM' in my email address to reply.

    Free Amateur Radio Courses:-
    http://www.ukradioamateur.org
     
  8. mike

    mike Guest

    Tell us what it does. Most "bright ideas" are obvious to at least one
    someone else.
    At lest most of mine were/are...glad I didn't spend any money on 'em.

    Sanding the label off the ICs will protect you from the casual copier
    who would have made two more in his garage. If the idea is a good one
    (BIG BUX) your nemisis will figure it out in a new york minute. Then
    he'll out manufacture, out advertise, out distribute you. You did
    say simple...

    The best way is to sell the idea to someone with the legal muscle
    to defend a patent.
    mike

    --
    Bunch of stuff For Sale and Wanted at the link below.
    laptops and parts Test Equipment
    4in/400Wout ham linear amp.
    Honda CB-125S
    400cc Dirt Bike 2003 miles $550
    Police Scanner, Color LCD overhead projector
    Tek 2465 $800, ham radio, 30pS pulser
    Tektronix Concept Books, spot welding head...
    http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Monitor/4710/
     
  9. If the circuitry is simple, there's no real protection possible.
    Copyrights will only protect the exact layout, and a competitor could
    easily implement the same circuit a bit differently. Incorporating
    microcontrollers, PLDs and such like can slow a copier down,
    especially if there are hidden algorithms, but if it's really simple
    your best protection is selling a reliable product at a fair price and
    gradually improving it over time.

    I wouldn't advise potting, sanding off chip numbers, etc. in general,
    as they just advertise that your profit margin is exceptionally high
    and the product is easy to copy. Occasionally, we've removed the chip
    number from one chip and hidden it so it isn't obvious when we've done
    something special to reduce the cost, but that sort of thing only
    slows down the garage copiers. Those are also the ones that would tend
    to exactly copy your product, IME, the more capable ones will just
    engineer something similar from scratch.

    Actually, if you can raise the stakes on packaging you can increase
    the barrier to entry signficantly- more than from the circuitry. It's
    one thing to lay out a board and have a few hundred made up, quite
    another to shell out for plastic injection mold tooling.

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
     
  10. We may be able to allay your fears.

    What does it do? Surely this can't be a secret.

    Tell us what it does and we'll put all these brains to work.

    I suspect a person or two out there may be able to come up
    with a similar solution, then you don't have to worry about
    people copying your design.
     
  11. R.Legg

    R.Legg Guest

    Do it first.
    Do it best.
    Do it again.

    RL
     
  12. Fred

    Fred Guest

    I recall a dongle many years ago for some software which I think was for
    board maker. They had used a number of wires which were loop in such a way
    that they touched the lid. The put what looked like potting compound on the
    lid such that when you prised it apart you ripped the wires from the PCB.

    Another technique used to stop the re-use of software was putting the
    program in a battery backed memory. Naturally if you should loose the power
    to the SRAM you lost the prog as well.

    If there is any digital stuff - put it in a CPLD.

    Don't know if this will help.
     
  13. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest


    If the problem is widespread and the solution is simple, there must be
    money to be made. So the key here is not technology, but marketing and
    distribution channel access. Whoever is best at that will win. If all
    you have is the circuit, and you don't have the sales connections, and
    the idea's not patentable and defensable, somebody else will probably
    win.

    John
     
  14. Patent It - it will still be copied but then you may get some legal
    redress - eventually...
     
  15. Neil

    Neil Guest

    As an inventor, one really realises that no matter what you do.....even
    copywriting, will stop the copying of a really good idea.
    All you can do is produce it faster, get it out to market first, then make
    it better, and cheaper than anyone else.
    Kim
     
  16. Detector195

    Detector195 Guest

    If it is not an earth shattering idea, you are safe simply because
    nobody will bother. I sell a device whose design is published in
    detail on the Web. So far nobody else has tried to market my design.
    One college kid turned it in as a student project and got caught
    plagiarizing.

    If it is an earth shattering idea, like the others have said, nothing
    is safe.

    There is a middle ground where you are protected by your up front
    investment and having a head start. Anybody who copies you will have
    to match your up front costs, but with a smaller total market to
    recoup those costs.

    And yet another idea, use the product as part of a service that you
    offer. Then the fact that you have a clever circuit may never become
    known to your potential competitors. Your circuit functions as a sort
    of "dongle" for some other kind of product or service.
     
  17. Steve

    Steve Guest

    ....if its worth sinking a fortune into lawyers etc!


    I have a "Prunes And Custard" guitar effects pedal that has a VERY
    hard white goop over most of the circuit board. Trying to remove this
    would more than likely cause damage to components and the board. I'm
    not about to try as this pedal cost me a lot of moolah!

    nifty
     
  18. On 18 Sep 2003 20:06:50 -0700, (Detector195)
    wrote:

    To give you an idea:

    I once drew out a scnhematic for a circuit board with approx 40
    (fourty) CMOS chips, all with the numbers erased. I could guess what
    most of them were by looking at the interconnects and which signals
    were inputs, and which were outputs. The rest I verified on a working
    board with a two channel scope.

    I have removed epoxy and other coatings from circuit boards and
    ceramic hybrids by using ordinary methyl hydrate in a pressure cooker.
    (This takes a week, outdoors in good ventilation under mild heat!)

    I have drawn out schematics of ceramic hybrids by desoldering the chip
    components and lookin at the raw chips under a microscope, measuring
    the resistors.

    There are millions of people like me on this planet. All it takes is
    the motivation to do it. My motivation was not even strong; simple
    curiosity !

    The only thing that might work reasonably well for you, is if you
    obfuscate the design by adding all kinds of extra complexity and extra
    components on a multilayer board, and then encase it in some special
    high temperature resin. This will frustrate the spies, and they will
    simply re-design the circuit instead of copying it.

    .....Stepan
     
  19. My second one.

    Engineering is not physics, so there is nothing new in engineering. If
    you have a product with a neat "new" feature, it makes no difference at
    all what the actual circuit is. Any engineer worth his salt will be able
    to redesign your "simple" circuit, based only on its features, before
    you can sup that pint of Guinness.


    Kevin Aylward

    http://www.anasoft.co.uk
    SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode
    Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture,
    Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design.
     
  20. Active8

    Active8 Guest

    as i told the last guy that asked this:

    the only protection you have is to be the best at what you're doing.
    i'll add to that - and hope to get the bear's share of the market.

    being first to market is a bonus if you can gain satisfied customers and
    momentum.

    good luck.
    mike
     
Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day

-