[SI-LIST] Re: PCB Reverse Engineering

  • From: dgun@xxxxxxxxxx
  • To: si-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 06:40:21 -0800

From what I recall, layout copyright protection is denoted  by an
"M" inside a circle. Usually the date and the company name next
to the circle-M if it fits (which it should on a PCB, but not
always on a chip). I imagine the datafiles copyright notification
is the standard circle-C.

Daniel (not a lawyer)

> From: "Nagel Michael-amn029" <Michael.Nagel@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Good point  - the copyright on PCB artwork.
> I agree that these situations may exist, but as Kedar did not=3D20
> elaborate much on this, doubts are allowed.
> When the company developing the board(s) goes out of business,
> they leave a larger trace behind than many people imagine.
> The PCB manufacturer they use has the Gerber files and I doubt that=3D20
> they disappear immediately when the originator of these files
> goes out of business.
> A PCB manufacturer will not hand out the data to another company
> except when the originator agrees. This is merely a question of ethics,
> when customers get to know this, the PCB manufacturer is out of
> business.=3D20
> Once we are in the "middle ground" where the original manufacturer does
> not
> exist anymore, access to this data (which might still be in one of the
> back-ups)
> can be discussed.
> Reverse Engineering - even with good reason - has always a bad taste,
> but=3D20
> that's my very personal view.
> Michael Nagel
> -----Original Message-----
> From: si-list-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:si-list-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> On Behalf Of JaMi Smith
> Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 8:53 PM
> To: si-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Cc: JaMi Smith
> Subject: [SI-LIST] Re: PCB Reverse Engineering
> It is not always true that the fab data on an old design is available,
> even from the board house . . .
> I have had board houses go out of business and simply close their doors,
> without any notice to their customers or leaving any contact data.
> I have actually had to recreate a small double sided board with less
> than 20 components for a friend who has been re-ordering the same boards
> for over 25 years, from the same board house, that went out of business
> before he could make a final buy, from original film shot from a hand
> taped artwork, where all that he could lay his hands on was film - there
> never were Gerbers. The board house closed it's doors, and I re-did the
> board for him from scratch, using all of the original dimensions and
> physical part locations, so that it would fit into his case, which he
> had also been re-ording from someone else for over 25 years, and made
> him a CD ROM with all the necessary files, and even submitted it
> electronically to several other board houses for him, so that he could
> continue his legitimate business selling his original design as he has
> been doing for over 25 years.
> These things really do happen.
> On the other hand, I have personally had people "pirate" a design from
> me and another friend whom I did the design for, at a great loss of
> revenue for him, not to mention other problems.
> Original artwork, electronic or otherwise, is in fact copywritable,
> although very few people ever do it. This sometimes helps, especially if
> the "pirate"
> doesn't repackage the pcb, as was the case here, where although the
> "pirate"
> did "retape" the pcb, he was stupid enough to make an exact copy of the
> layout, so that my friend could go after him with a lawyer, for copyrite
> violation, which he did.
> There is also the case of what I call the "middle ground", where you may
> be legitimately purchasing a "module" from a vendor who simply goes
> belly up and totally disappears, and is unable to continue supplying
> that module anymore, which may be critical to your end product, and who
> is not even there anymore to ask permission to reproduce his module, or
> simply says "go ahead and make your own". This too actually happens,
> more often than one would expect, especially in todays economy.
> I sat in on one of the IPC Commitee Meetings at APEX two years ago,
> where they were trying to finalize a Standard Format for Electronic Data
> Exchange.
> I incurred the wrath of Dieter Bergman when I brought up the subject of
> Security and Ownership, and suggessted that each and every "File
> Format", should have a place to place an Ownership Statement, along with
> Non Disclosure and / or Confidentiality Agreements, and specifically for
> Copywrite information. There were a few people at the meeting that
> seemed to agree, but Dieter didn't want to spend any time on the
> subject, so it "fell by the wayside". I was on the Commitee (CAMX)
> "emailing list" for a while, but was conveinently dropped in due course.
> I would highly recommend that everyone in the design business start
> thinking about the issue of Ownership, and Copywrite, and other
> Priprietary Rights, when it comes to their Designs, and specifically
> with respect to things such as "Gerber Files", and other types of files
> containing "Design Data", and specifically think about including
> "Statements" regarding such "Files"
> within the "files" themselves, where ever possible, and specifically
> within other documents such as a Purchase Order..
> Years ago we always used to have such statements "printed" in the
> standard "Company Title Block" on the standard pre-printed vellum we
> used for all of our drawings, or have a "Confidentiality Statement" in
> small print in one of the corners of each drawing. Many times this has
> been carried over to "Electronic Drawings", but only very rarely has
> this ever been done with actual "files" themselves. I would recommend
> that all in this "forum" give a little thought to what they can do
> within their respective companies, to protect themselves. I would
> minimumally recommend including a text file in your standard "zipped"
> manufacturing file package that you send to the board house or assembly
> house, stating something to the effect that "All files contained herein
> are Confidential and Proprietaty to John Doe Co., owner of said files,
> and are only provided to enable manufacture of such and such,
> specifically and only for John Doe Co., and their representatives, blah
> blah blah, etc., etc., etc.,  ... and that such files shall remain the
> Intellectual, and Physical, and Electronic Property of John Doe Co., ...
> Point being, that you should rethink about how you and /or your company
> and /or the company you work for, can cover your own a##, and retain
> ownership of your own intellectual property, in the event that you need
> to.
> This is especially true for any designs or files that go "off-shore",
> for "off-shore manufacturing". I won't mention any names or specific
> countries here, so as not to offend anyone in particular, but I am sure
> that everyone has heard a horror story or two, where the company doing
> the "off-shore manufacturing", ended up selling the product themselves.
> This too has really happened.
> If you cover yourself well enough up front, maybe you can prevent your
> own "designs" from becoming the subject of this type of conversation.
> And yes, if you can't tell by now, I think that this is a very
> appropriate topic of conversation for this forum.
> Specifically, I would wonder how others have dealt with, or would deal
> with, what I have called the "middle ground" issue above. I have
> actually encountered this problem, where I have actually had to do
> "reverse engineering" myself, when a supplied ceased to exist.
> And in answer to the original question on this subject, yes,
> multilayered boards can in fact be "reverse engineered".
> JaMi Smith
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Scott McMorrow" <scott@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <kedar.apte@xxxxxxxxx>; "silist" <si-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 5:25 AM
> Subject: [SI-LIST] Re: PCB Reverse Engineering
> Then why is the design data, schematics, board files, gerbers, not
> available? If nothing else, you should know where the board was
> fabricated.  The fabricator will have a record of the gerber files used.
> Scott McMorrow
> Teraspeed Consulting Group LLC
> 121 North River Drive
> Narragansett, RI 02882
> (401) 284-1827 Business
> (401) 284-1840 Fax
> http://www.teraspeed.com
> Teraspeed(r) is the registered service mark of
> Teraspeed Consulting Group LLC
> Kedar P Apte wrote:
> > Hi Steve,
> > I was expecting this Question - never mind
> > I am not in that business -
> > I think this answer is quiet straight forward and simple to
> understand.
> >
> >
> > Regards,
> > Kedar
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: si-list-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > [mailto:si-list-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of steve weir
> > Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 5:31 PM
> > To: kedar.apte@xxxxxxxxx; si-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Subject: [SI-LIST] Re: PCB Reverse Engineering
> >
> >
> > Are you asking for help finding tools so you can steal someone else'
> > design?  Who helps a thief?
> >
> > If you think that theft is OK can you provide me with Patni's
> > corporate bank account numbers and access codes?  I think there are
> > many people who might like to out-source funding of their accounts
> payable.
> >
> >
> > Steve.
> > At 03:33 AM 5/18/2006, Kedar P Apte wrote:
> >
> >> Hi All Gurus,
> >> I want some info or guidance about reverse engineering a multi
> Layered
> PCB.
> >>
> >> Can there be any way, method, tool, vendor who can get
> gerbers/netlist
> out
> >> of a multilayered PCB.
> >>
> >> May be by x-ray method or any other way.
> >>
> >> I have a PCB with multiple BGA components and I need to come out with
> it's
> >> schematic.
> >>
> >> I need information about how to do this task.
> >>
> >> Can you please provide me the different ways available if any..
> >>
> >>
> >> Regards,
> >> Kedar
> >>
> >> http://www.patni.com
> >> World-Wide Partnerships. World-Class Solutions.

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