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Cloning product = illegal

MacIntoshCZ

Active Member
There are many clones of products on market. Just wondering if someone ever get into trouble for doing this? For instance there are many nanoVNA on aliexpress but some clones vary, they offer something extra. So its copying schematic and layout, then make some changes to have better product even illegal? If i remember correctly schematic cannot be ever patented.
 

ronsimpson

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
The nanoVNA came from a application note (data sheet). The hole point of application notes to to get some one to make a circuit and buy parts. Many of the DC-DC power supplies at Alie are exact copies of the circuit in the data sheet. Many venders make a demo board and that is what gets copied. I do not see a vender complaining about these projects and the parts that get used.

My thoughts RonS.
 

MacIntoshCZ

Active Member
Schematics have been patented since at least the 1800's.

ak
In some episode of EEBlog, i heard that its almost impossible to blame somebody which has almost identical circuitry...
What about pickit programmers, tl866 pro.... etc
 
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AnalogKid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
The patent system has a wide variety of ... issues, but blame and enforcement have nothing to do with awarding.

ak
 

MacIntoshCZ

Active Member
Also if someone share how product is done is that illegal? If i reverse engineer something and share complete schematic and pcb layout?
 

rjenkinsgb

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Schematics have been patented since at least the 1800's.
Patents apply to ideas, methods etc.

Schematics and PCB layouts are covered by copyright, not patent - though they can be part of the information used in a patent, the resulting patent protection is a different thing.

Also if someone share how product is done is that illegal? If i reverse engineer something and share complete schematic and pcb layout?
Without an original schematic, your re-creation would be your own property; schematics and PCB layouts [artworks] are legally "art".

Exactly or very closely duplicating the PCB layout could arguably be breach of copyright, unless you attribute it to the original makers as their property / design.

Manufacturing whatever item, rather than just providing information, is a different matter again.
 

Lo_volt

New Member
Pop Sockets come to mind first for me when I hear about patent infringement or product cloning. They are the makers of the little knobs that mount to the back of a cell phone that allows it to stand on its own. It can be used as a handle as well and all kinds of other features. They put the device on the market and very quickly had other manufacturers make copies. They aggressively pursue patent infringement to keep their market clear of competitors. They even announce, loudly, that their products are patented:

https://www.popsockets.com/en-us/pages/intellectual-property.html

The choice to pursue infringement really depends on what the manufacturer wants to spend enforcing the patents. Apple is aggressive. Enforcement is expensive, especially when it comes to international efforts. Some manufacturers will attempt to blitz the market very quickly then back out as the copies inevitably cut into their market share. Some competitors try to stay "below the radar" in selling their products so as to avoid detection by the patent holder. The appliance manufacturer that I worked for kept its most prized products in house so as to avoid having foreign factories reverse engineer them. It was also fun to watch, when we released a new design, for the clones to appear on the market.

When IBM first produced the PC AT, it was very quickly copied as IBM published the schematics in their product manual. Initially some of the clones simply duplicated the BIOS ROM. These were easy cases for IBM to pursue as copyright infringement and just as quickly the clones came up with their own BIOS code. IBM didn't seem to care as much that the PC was being copied.
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
If I remember correctly the PC is a different kettle of fish anyway because the overall design is open.
 

Lo_volt

New Member
If I remember correctly the PC is a different kettle of fish anyway because the overall design is open.
You are correct. IBM was suing for copyright infringement of the BIOS ROM. This barely slowed down clone makers as several alternatives quickly became available.
 

AnalogKid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
It slowed them for about a year. Phoenix pioneered the concept of a "clean room" software development environment.

Note that the reason there never was a successful clone of the early Macs is because Apple put the entire OS in ROM, something too big and complex to "clean room". Franklin had a Mac clone that used ROM chips pulled from older models for the OS.

ak
 

Reloadron

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
During my early career I made frequent trips to Taiwan (Peoples Republic of Free China). You could buy expensive text books for pennies on the dollar. Machineries Handbook comes to mind which back then was a $100 book, they could be had for about $3 USD. Vinyl record albums? About a buck. We traveled with the Red DoD passports mostly on US Government aircraft but even on commercial flights we blew through customs. Across the big pond things like Copywrite or Copyright mean nothing. This travel was between '75 and about '80 at which time I went from Pacific Rim to Europe. Hong Kong also, same deal. :)

Ron
 

gary350

Well-Known Member
Circuit drawing schematic can have copyrights. It is illegal to make photo copy of someone else circuit drawing. BUT you can hand draw any schematic then sell all the copies of "YOUR" drawings you want because it is YOUR work not a copy of someone else work.

YOU can copy a schematic for your own use but you can not sell other peoples work.
 
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AnalogKid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
BUT you can hand draw any schematic then sell all the copies of "YOUR" drawings you want because it is YOUR work not a copy of someone else work.
No, you can't. You're saying that if I sit down and retype a Harry Potter novel from start to finish, that I can sell - legally - copies of my typed text?

No.

ak
 

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