OT: A call to arms (sort of)

From: Richard Erlacher <edick_at_idcomm.com>
Date: Tue Jul 6 20:13:48 1999

Out bretheren on the Pacific Rim don't share our sense of ethics nor do they
revere the notion of intellectual property rights, or patents, for that
matter as we do. If you have a product made, say in Korea or Taiwan, it's
almost certain you'll have a competitor making the same thing using tooling
exactly like yours within a few weeks, and they don't have to earn
50Megabucks in NRE costs. If they never see a working model, as, indeed,
they may not, they're going to have a much easier time cloning your product
with the schematics and programmable device listings than without,
particularly if your product is just a board for a PC. In the latter case,
they often don't even know what it does, but just reproduce it and sell it
to someone who buys pirate copies of the doc or ships the product without.
If it's your product, YOU make the market, and THEY make the profit.

-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Duell <ard_at_p850ug1.demon.co.uk>
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Date: Tuesday, July 06, 1999 5:45 PM
Subject: Re: OT: A call to arms (sort of)

>> > Odd... I've got several hundred (no exageration) service manuals here.
>> > All containing schematics, etc. In a lot of cases there's enough

>> > product.
>> ???!!?!?!!!!
>> Tucked away in just about _every_ manuafacturer's R&D department is a
>> room that contains as many of their competitor's products and manuals as
>> they can get their hands on. If you think that electronic companies do
>> not use this tactic to "improve" their products, you are wrong.
>Of course they do. But I won't accept that the service manual gives them
>that much help. And I can't think of a case where a service manual has
>been the cause of a clone.
>Given a working example of a product you can 'reverse engineer' it to
>better than the level of information in the service manual in a couple of
>weeks. Using only a DMM and a simple logic analyser. The former to get a
>rat's nest of the connections, the latter to assign useful
>names/functions to pins on gate arrays. Believe me, it's not hard.
>And I know that a lot of companies do just that to competing products.
>I've talked to people who do just that.
An automatic tester can give you a netlist in a day's time, assuming you
have a board and someone to program the tester. However, getting from a
netlist of a board with, say 1000 components on it to a schematic can take a
long time. By that I mean a LONG time. I've seen where it has taken a week
to get a correct schematic of a 3"x4" board. Now what about a 9" x 12" one?
>Therefore, the service manual isn't _that_ valuable. Not having it
>doesn't stop the above. And from what I've heard (and observed on classic
>computers), you would be very unwise to rely on a manual. Errors creep
>in. Things are missed out. Important details of things like signal timing
>can only be deduced from the product itself. In other words, even with
>the manual you are going to want to dismantle and analyse a real machine.
The sevice manual can shorten the time to do the job from weeks to days.
That's pretty helpful if you ask me.
>> Service manuals do a great job of giving up company secrets! These days,
>> the things are generally marked "confidential" and do not leave the
>> buildings.
>I will assure you that restricting the service manuals like this doesn't
>hinder 'the competition' that much at all. What it does hinder are
>non-official service agents, though. That, IMHO is the main reason for
>restricting them. And I am not happy with that.
>> William Donzelli
>> aw288_at_osfn.org
Received on Tue Jul 06 1999 - 20:13:48 BST

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