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Old 26th October 2012, 09:40 PM   #11
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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Many PCB layouts are copyrighted and surprise, layout does matter.

Some designs are published with no restrictions as they are to encourage use of a specific part. Application notes for devices for example.
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Old 26th October 2012, 11:17 PM   #12
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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Yes, many things are in the "public domain" and are free from restriction. When tube or transistor or integrated circuit manufacturers provide sample circuits using their products, they generally offer them openly for free use. They want you to use their parts in your products.
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Old 27th October 2012, 09:49 AM   #13
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The big issue of course is whether you intend to use a complete circuit in a commercial venture. I think it probably a certainty that almost anyone who had designed a circuit, professional or otherwise, would claim copyright in those circumstances. That is what I reckon anyway. And of course, it only seems fair that the designer should. But, it ought to be truly the designer's design.

Last edited by richard8976; 27th October 2012 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 27th October 2012, 10:00 AM   #14
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You may wonder why I ask the question on commercial arrangements. Well, I'm in the process of trying to come up with a product to produce. I don't know what to make and have not made up my mind. I'm no audio engineer, but I think I've got a "stylistic idea" and I'd have to buy-in the circuit. :c) Well, it's a long-shot that I'd produce a piece of audio equipment, but it's nice to know something about commercial aspects.

Last edited by richard8976; 27th October 2012 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 27th October 2012, 10:14 AM   #15
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What is the function of the buy-in circuit? "Audio frequency amplifier" is much more open territory than, say, "a method to reduce hiss in magnetic tape playback."
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Old 27th October 2012, 10:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sofaspud View Post
What is the function of the buy-in circuit? "Audio frequency amplifier" is much more open territory than, say, "a method to reduce hiss in magnetic tape playback."
Yes, that is true.

But, if I took a circuit from say Musical Fidelity and used it in some amplifier I produced, I think Musical Fidelity would be seeking some kind of payment. I feel sure they would. I guess I could always ask. :c)
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Old 27th October 2012, 10:30 AM   #17
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The way I see it, you've made a presumption that just because Musical Fidelity uses that circuit then they own it. I can't say one way or the other, but I know that doesn't correspond with the first post of the thread.
Of course, the statement "took a circuit from..." can be construed as an admission of guilt right off the bat.
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Old 27th October 2012, 10:40 AM   #18
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If you're involved in the design or creation of products and really did worry about copyright and/or patents, I think you would never get any work done. As an engineer, you may come up with several ideas every day that appear to be just small solutions to small problems but which, if you spent a few days researching each one, would possibly be covered by many patents.

An example I have just made up: supposing your project requires you to smoothly fade LED brightness up and down. If you do a search on patents for LED dimming, you will find literally hundreds, some of which appear to be as simple as "controlling LED brightness in response to control signals" or similar. Here's an actual example:

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An LED(Light Emitting Diode) control driver is provided to increase a current value according to a step if a fade-in signal is recognized and decrease a current value according to a step if a fade-out signal is recognized. A general current control terminal receives a basic current value. Two terminals receive a fade-in signal and a fade-out signal. A memory(112) stores current values by each step. A controller(103) drives a timer according to preset time if a fade-in or fade-out signal is recognized through the two terminals to which the fade-in and fade-out signals are inputted. After that, the controller performs a control operation so as to increase or decrease the current value, stored in the memory, at every predetermined time according to a step, and transmits the signal to a DAC(Digital Analog Converter)(115). The DAC outputs an analog signal corresponding to the current value transmitted from the controller.
Must you examine each one to ensure you don't infringe it? Are you even qualified to say whether you are infringing it or not? Is the patent actually in force, or is it just an application that was rejected, or has it now lapsed? It takes several minutes to read and digest each patent.

I can clearly recall using LED dimming in a design many years ago, where I realised that linear fading didn't look too good so I changed to an exponential response, which appeared to give a much more linear response to the eye. It was the work of about ten minutes and I thought no more about it. However, if I had spent a few days researching my 'innovation', I might have found a few hundred patents that may, or may not, be relevant, such as this one:

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The invention discloses a dimming method of a light emitting diode (LED), which adopts a pulse width modulation (PWM) control mode and is characterized in that an exponential relation is output by adjusting a driving current of the LED and a duty ratio of PWM to compensate perception of an eye on light rays and a logarithmic relation of light gain...
Again, I am not qualified to know if it was relevant or not, but the overhead of ploughing through the patents would be huge, compared to the actual work of implementing an idea that was thought of in an instant.

Last edited by CopperTop; 27th October 2012 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 27th October 2012, 10:55 AM   #19
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard8976
I think it probably a certainty that almost anyone who had designed a circuit, professional or otherwise, would claim copyright in those circumstances.
Under UK law there is no such thing as 'claiming' copyright. I believe elsewhere this may be necessary, though. Here the act of producing a work automatically creates copyright for the author, except where it was done in the course of his employment in which case his employer has copyright. In either case the original copyright owner can assign his rights away to someone else (and so lose copyright), or licence the work (and retain copyright). The issue in the UK is whether the copyright owner will sue for infringement, and seek to recover what he has lost - typically whatever money you have made from his idea, plus his legal costs in chasing you.

Last edited by DF96; 27th October 2012 at 10:56 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 27th October 2012, 02:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by sofaspud View Post
The way I see it, you've made a presumption that just because Musical Fidelity uses that circuit then they own it. I can't say one way or the other, but I know that doesn't correspond with the first post of the thread.
Of course, the statement "took a circuit from..." can be construed as an admission of guilt right off the bat.
Well, my presumption was that Musical Fidelty had designed the circuit, that I then go on and use in a commercial way for a product of mine.

If I produced my version of say an audio amplifier, and it became apparant that the circuit was a clone of one that Musical Fidelity had designed, I think Musical Fidelty would claim breach of copyright.

Because I'm profitting from their design work.

Of course, an issue is how is Musical Fidelity coming up with it's design - is it building on other people's work. I suppose the answer to that must be yes. Perhaps they paid something for it, perhaps not.

But,anyway, if I produced a product where the circuit was an exact clone, it is 100% clear I'm profitting from doing that.

Last edited by richard8976; 27th October 2012 at 02:27 PM.
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