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PCB Design Intellectual Property

Rodney Jones - Thursday, March 26, 2015

Innovative PCB design protection 


It’s easy to get complacent about this as we are rushing to get work out the door, but we were recently very surprised and reminded of the dangers about the information available on how ( not necessarily why) to DECONSTRUCT a PCB layout.

Youtube videos and senminars at event the likes of DEFCON all show demonstrations of different techniques for reverse engineering a circuit board, look at all the components, all the traces between these components, and clone the entire thing. So these process of removing a soldermask, ranging from a fiberglass scratch brush, to CNC milling, laser ablation are all breaching our Intellectual Property.

Additionally with the situation of sophisticated global supply chains all helping to lower costs and increase turn around, using global out sourced manufacturing we are often exposing our intellectual property to third parties. It’s important to remember that our IP is often the basis for our competitive advantage and long term income, even survival !

IP protection laws vary across the globe and without IP management or protection, our new designs can be cloned by a competitor or an unknown third party. So what are the best ways is to protect our IP before it leaves your desk.

What do you do ? A sample of ways we can protect our PCB innovations are tiimed life on design data – rendering it unreadable after a set time period. Similar to a software license, requiring the need to come back to you - the owner.

Does your design software provide built-in IP management that is easy and secure ?
We all need to feel confident that our new PCB designs can still be manufactured at the lowest cost with the fastest time but in a secure manner