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Protecting intellectual property, and disclosing design

Question asked by Brian Lindahl on Oct 22, 2009
Latest reply on Oct 26, 2009 by Tony Hayes

I have a customer that purchased a machine from my employer earlier in the year.  They are continuing to evolve their product that the machine builds.  Because of the ongoing changes to the product, there are design concerns in the provided machine, specifically that the product is now heavier, and the machine provided is suspect of no longer being capable of the load and cycle rates.  The customer now wants the solid models of the design to be able to do some analysis of the models and determine if the original system is up to the new job.


The company I work for has only this one job with the given customer for existing history, and therefore no history with respect to how well the customer will respect our intellectual property if we disclose it to them.


They have repeatedly requested the models of our machine, and it looks like we will be giving in to these requests in one way or another.  How is the best way to protect our design information?


FYI, from the purchase agreement for this machine, they bought the machine, and specifically not the design of the machine.  Also, we don't have a simulation seat to offer to do the analysis for them.


I will certainly be exporting the model to parasolids before providing the files, to remove the feature trees.


Another idea we have tossed around, and is available to us through a local Technical College is to pack and go the parasolid out to the student version of SolidWorks, then provide the SolidWorks native files created by the student version.  The thought being that this would haunt them forever if they start using the files to create any drawings.  Does this seem ethical on our behalf?  Would it really accomplish anything to do this?  If they intend to "steal" the design, would a data set created in a student version of the software even matter to them?  Would this step only insure that they believe we don't trust our customers?


Any other instances of something like this?