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Old 25th March 2003, 04:03 PM   #1
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Location: Mars
Default Question for Nelson Pass

I was reading the Steven Mantz story at the end of
this thread, Zed Audio. Apparently, he designed and
manufacturered car and home amplifiers for so many
companies in his career.;f=18;t=002246

I'm also assuming you have been contracted over
your career to design amplifiers for other companies.

The question is...

If you were contracted to design a class ab of 500 watts
and gave this design to the company requesting it,
is this design 100% proprietary ? I mean, what if
later, another company comes and wants a 500 watt
design, do you hand over the same design you did
previously or do you have to tweak the design so it
doesn't match the first one ? As a designer, what is legal
to do ?

I wonder how many of those Steven Mantz designs
are recycled, from one brand to another. The only
difference really is chassis ? hehe
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Old 25th March 2003, 06:32 PM   #2
paulb is offline paulb  Canada
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Location: Calgary
I'm not Nelson, but...
The key is in the contract arrangement. You can work it either way, the designer owns the intellectual property (the design), and they are just licensing the company to use it; or the company is paying for full rights to the design, in which case the designer would have to change it to sell it elsewhere. Given that there are a finite number of topologies, most of which are in the public domain anyway, I would guess that the issue probably doesn't come up too often, or is quickly settled.
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Old 25th March 2003, 06:47 PM   #3
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Location: Dortmund, Germany

Also you wouldn't believe (especially in the car amplifier field, like where Mantz was most active) how many designs are getting copied in the far east faster than the original manufacturer can make money with it...

Therefor "Made and Designed in the USA" or "in Germany" or "in Italy" is becoming more and more extinct...

Even American icons of (car) amplifier manufacturers are nowadays at least producing in the far east (Hifonics, Soundstream), but often even designing there (though often saying that the design still comes from the US, that is simply not the case most of the time).

Exceptions seem to be Germany's "Audiotec Fischer" (Brax, Helix) and Italy's "Audison", Genesis and some other (expensive) stuff.

A lot of promising new manufacturers don't (or didn't) get the rewards they deserved an go bankrupt, like Blade from Canada (anybody remembers?), or they start selling out, losing their high end appeal (like AMA, later "Smart Devices" in Germany), and later vanish from sight...

So you have to have something unique in your amps or speakers, lest Sony & Co beat you off the market...

Sad development, but at least the average consumer with his "low end" gear get's more quality for his money, which prevents my ears from bleeding when listening to friend's audio gear at their places...


A Sacrifice For Freedom
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Old 25th March 2003, 07:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Question for Nelson Pass

Originally posted by thylantyr
If you were contracted to design a class ab of 500 watts
and gave this design to the company requesting it,
is this design 100% proprietary ? I mean, what if
later, another company comes and wants a 500 watt
design, do you hand over the same design you did
previously or do you have to tweak the design so it
doesn't match the first one ? As a designer, what is legal
to do ?
Contracted would be the key word here. A design contract should spell out all the rights, expectations, schedules, specs, and so on.

A designer who wants repeat business won't hand out the same design to two different companies, assuming that he has more than one design in his bag. And some don't.

Legal? Legal is whatever anybody can get away with.

I usually pay more attention to the rights of attribution. Historically I have not had as much problem with people actually stealing design work, but stealing my name and sticking it on their product. Currently the maker of an integrated amp is trying the (not so) clever ploy of not naming his designer, but subtly implying that it's me, and getting a reviewer to take the heat for using my name.

Considering that my rates aren't that high, I don't know why they would go to the trouble.
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Old 25th March 2003, 08:49 PM   #5
MikeW is offline MikeW  United States
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How high is not to High? Is that per Amp or per Hour?
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Old 26th March 2003, 05:21 AM   #6
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Location: Grantham, NH
I can't comment on Nelson Pass, but in my field (Mechanical Engineering), PhD types (like myself) tend to command about $150 an hour give or take for consulting or contract work. And you don't get your problem solved (or your amplifier built) in an hour...

In my experience, each contract is different. I typically work on time and materials type of contracts where a problem is defined and I am given a chunk of money to work on the problem. I charge hours spent and bill for materials used. But there are no pre-set deliverables that are written in stone. With that type of contract, you are buying brainpower for X hours. For contracts that have explicit deliverables, the customer owns those deliverables, as I'm sure the customer would own Nelson Pass' designs, unless Nelson is very good at negociating contracts. It's probably not worth the loss of money for him to negociate to keep a certain design vs. letting them have it.

(just speculating...)
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Old 7th April 2003, 03:17 PM   #7
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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
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Hmmm. about a certain Class D design amp. The advert I saw certainly seemed almost deceptive to me, Mr. Pass. I can't imagine that its target market would make the connection, but the wording to me seemed to make at least a "pas"sing reference to you.

Just a coincedence?
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