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Stolen designs

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Brian, Jun 10, 2006.

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  1. Brian

    Brian Guest

    How many of you out here have ever discovered that another company had
    stolen your designs? As a CM, I have seen it once, and as a hired gun I saw
    it once on a complete product scale (although multiple products copied by
    this company). I have seen teardowns done, but not cloned. I wonder how
    prevalent this is.
  2. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    I once cloned (different design, functionally equivalent) a LeCroy
    product, at the request of one of their customers, and Walter got
    fairly annoyed. Next bid, they cut their price in half, so the
    customer disqualified them "on technical grounds"!

    And Scientific Instruments cloned one of my cryogenic signal
    conditioners, but didn't do a good enough job to take much of our
    sales away.

    In niche markets like mine, it doesn't make sense for a company to
    clone somebody else's product just so that they can start a price war
    for half of a small market, so we pretty much try to keep out of one
    another's way.

    I hear that AMD might have once cloned somebody's CPU architecture.

  3. Roy L. Fuchs

    Roy L. Fuchs Guest

    You're an idiot.
  4. Ken Smith

    Ken Smith Guest

    I've seen one case where the PCB traces were in exactly the same place and
    one where sections of the schematic were obviously lifted.

    In neither case did the copy cat gain much. They were late into the
  5. Ken Smith

    Ken Smith Guest

    The way I heard it, they bought the rights but there was a disagreement
    about just what the rights were that they bought.

    IIRC, someone in Japan was involved too.
  6. Roger

    Roger Guest

    AMD were second source of the 8086. They did a technology exchange with
    INTEL. INTEL put up the architecture, AMD thier process technology.

    They later found out that INTEL were working on the 386 architecture
    which rendered the 286 useless, allthougth INTEL had no qualms about
    using AMD process technology, evidently they had better lawyers when
    the deal was made ;-)

    So AMD did thier own 386. Obviously cloning or reverse engineering it
    would have seen them straight in court. So they emulated the
    functionality in a clean room process were engineers had to build a
    simulated logic model using VHDL or something similiar to implement the
    386 instruction set according to INTEL datasheets. This was the first
    time such a large device had been simulated and designed in this way,
    it was quite a triumph for silicon compiler technology.

    When they finally had it all together they "simulated" an 80386 chip,
    it took two weeks to boot a DOS floppy but it was an incredible
    engineering feat.

    That model was then used as the basis for thier subsequent 80386

    NEC. btw, did not do carbon copies of the INTEL chips but re-engineered
    them with improved technology that was slightly faster. A bit greyer in
    the legal area because it was in essence an improved version of the
    INTEL silicon.
  7. Luhan

    Luhan Guest

    Best story I ever heard was the Russians ripping off the Intel 8080.
    No one there wanted to take the responsibility for even the slightest
    change - so they left the Intel logo on it!

  8. EE123

    EE123 Guest

    The Motorola 68000 instruction set was an exact copy of the DEC Vax
  9. Brian

    Brian Guest

    I've seen one case where the PCB traces were in exactly the same place and
    I almost forgot one. I remember a product that was copied exact, even the
    pcb was DIGITALLY captured and then used. I had forgotten that one!
  10. Luhan

    Luhan Guest

    Yep, the cleanest instructions set I have ever used. All the
    registers, all the uses, every which way, all the time. Just the
    opposite of the Intel designs which looked like they were created by

  11. John Fields

    John Fields Guest


    Oh my,...

    I guess that "name dropping" in an attempt to relate annoyance to
    importance means that since you managed to steal something from them
    which they couldn't defend makes you the originator of the idea.

    Guess again.

    ISTM that since you built on an idea that was there before you were,
    you're indebted.

    Pay up and stop bitching.
  12. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Well, no. Both are clearly derived from the PDP-11 architecture, with
    the 68K looking more like a PDP-11 than the VAX. But they are very
    different; for example, the VAX has 12 general-purpose registers,
    R0..R11, but the 68K has eight data and eight address registers,
    D0..D7 and A0..A7.

  13. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Walter LeCroy apparently thought he invented the nanosecond, and got
    very upset when anybody else dared to build fast electronics and
    compete with him. And I stole nothing but the arrangement of the
    connectors on their front panel: my design was original.

    I was struggling to keep my startup company alive after developing a
    family of modems for Reuters and losing the business because of their
    internal politics. They were very cool modems, double-conversion
    superhet FSK using all switched-capacitor filters. A guy from Los
    Alamos walked into my office and literally threw a LeCroy 4208 on my
    desk and said "Can you do this? If you can, I'll buy them." What do
    you think I said?

    a) No, I don't think I can design anything that hard

    b) No, that would be immoral and you are a Very Bad Man

    c) How many do you want?

    Harry was pissed because half of the LeCroy units were DOA, it took
    six months to recycle them for repair (from Switzerland), and then
    half of *those* came back dead.
    Did you invent the 555 timer?
    Am I bitching? Shucks, I thought I was happy about the whole affair.

  14. Roy L. Fuchs

    Roy L. Fuchs Guest

    Hehehe... Cool Story.
  15. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Well, actually, it depnds on if you could eat, I suppose. When I first
    started my company, I had a job come in. They had me lay out a PCB for a
    design, with a few items in the right locations to "fit the case". I did it,
    then ordered all the parts for a run of them. In the mean time, I was
    looking on the Internet for related devices, just for shits (I had more time
    then). I found the EXACT product on the market, and I mean EXACT except for
    the layout and 3 parts or so. A bit of snooping, it seemed that the person
    who came to me was his customer. The guy wanted it a bit cheaper, so he just
    borrowed the design a bit. I tossed the whole job, even though we had about
    15 grand in parts and pcbs (of course, I was not hurting though, makes a
    difference). But, it did turn out ok, the orginal guy was nice, even bought
    out our parts. So in the end, I nearly broke even, minus my wasted time.

    That was the only design rip off I have seen in my CM company to date.
  16. EE123

    EE123 Guest

    You are absolutely correct! I designed a 68000 emulator in the middle
    about ... almost 20 years ago....... gulp!
    Jeez, time sure flies when...when... when
    what I was thinking about??

  17. Zak

    Zak Guest

    ISTR they had a lices to copy the 486 hardware, but not the microcode.
    So they rewrote that.

    The Pentium they were not allowed to copy so they rolled their own.

  18. Guest

    And Motorola took the 6800 guys to court. So they changed it into 6502 asfaik.
  19. Roy L. Fuchs

    Roy L. Fuchs Guest

    Well, damn! The ten year old putz grows up. Nice to see that you
    aren't attacking anyone anymore.
  20. Roy L. Fuchs

    Roy L. Fuchs Guest

    Pass it this way... :-]
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