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Old 25th January 2018, 03:08 AM   #1
Doppler9000 is offline Doppler9000  Canada
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Is it okay to commission the build of a Sony VFET amplifier Nelson Pass' DIY Sony VFET amplifier - complete?
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Old 25th January 2018, 12:56 PM   #2
vdi_nenna is offline vdi_nenna  United States
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Why not?

I believe there's a faction of people out there that are all thumbs, don't have disposable funds, but love music, and want very good gear. If you know someone whom will build it for you for free or otherwise, go for it. There's enough audio snobbery out there to fill the world. Why deny someone a little joy. They paid for the parts and boards and whatever. They should do what they want as long as they're not going into production.
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Old 25th January 2018, 02:06 PM   #3
Johnny2Bad is offline Johnny2Bad  Canada
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You can build anything yourself for "research and study" purposes, including patented devices. You cannot dispose of a device built under that condition (cannot sell it or give it away); it must be retained by you, made non-functional, or destroyed. You cannot commission someone to build such a device, since in that case only they could use it.

If you are commissioning a build then you should obtain the permission of whomever owns the IP.

With DIY circuits, which normally are not covered by patents*, the layout and design might be subject to non-patent IP. Often commercial production is prohibited without permission but if your build is commissioned and on a cost-plus basis (ie cost for materials with an itemized BoM; specific charge for labour) that is usually considered equivalent to a DIY build, although strictly speaking it's not.

Anyone who puts his designs for DIY users would probably be OK with that though; and in that case would grant permission if asked, probably.

I don't see it as a huge problem. If possible, contact the designer and if he gives permission then you are good to go, but that is often ignored and nobody gets yelled at too much.

* In the USA (only), an Industrial Design is referred to as a "Design Patent". It is not a patent in the normal sense of the word, but often someone with a design patent implies that it is. Industrial Designs refer to the shape and style of a device; for example the body shape of a Corvette or a piece of designer furniture, sunglasses, etc. The famous Q-Ray bracelet has a US Design Patent, for example, but that doesn't mean it actually has any functional use beyond it's unique style. Having said that, the USPTO does not require any patent conform to the laws of physics, so that leaves a lot of potential room for snake oil.
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Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 25th January 2018 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 25th January 2018, 02:46 PM   #4
scott wurcer is online now scott wurcer  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny2Bad View Post
You can build anything yourself for "research and study" purposes, including patented devices.

With DIY circuits, which normally are not covered by patents*, the layout and design might be subject to non-patent IP.
Not quite true, I asked the first of our chief IP counsel. Certainly building a patented device just for yourself and enjoying its use is an infringement, I'm not sure there is a "research and study" grey area.

The PC layout can be copyrighted as can a specific drawing of the schematic. The ideas embodied in them has no protection other than patent. The US code is very clear and I realize this is an international forum, but remember there are lots of mutual treaties in force.

A good reference on reverse engineering another similar topic. Again the reality might not be to everyone's liking.

https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu...ontext=facpubs
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Old 25th January 2018, 04:02 PM   #5
Doppler9000 is offline Doppler9000  Canada
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Originally Posted by vdi_nenna View Post
Why not?

I believe there's a faction of people out there that are all thumbs, don't have disposable funds, but love music, and want very good gear. If you know someone whom will build it for you for free or otherwise, go for it. There's enough audio snobbery out there to fill the world. Why deny someone a little joy. They paid for the parts and boards and whatever. They should do what they want as long as they're not going into production.
The "why not" that came to mind is that Nelson is remarkably generous with his IP, with the limitation, as I understood it, that the designs are strictly for personal use. The referenced post clearly refers to a commercial transaction, where the key value conveyed was Nelson's IP. The soldering and assembly skills, etc., are fungible.

How does one logically distinguish the above-referenced transaction from someone selling units on ebay, to save other people who are cash-strapped and “all thumbs”? The fact that one is commissioned and the other is “on spec” doesn’t seem relevant. The "It's only one" argument lead to a slippery slope. Is two okay? Five?

The “Why deny someone a little joy” argument would apply to all sorts of things. If someone cash-strapped but wants to watch “Breaking Bad”, should they be able to pirate it and watch for free?

If commissioned builds of Nelson’s designs are kosher, that’s fine – I just wanted to check.

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Last edited by Doppler9000; 25th January 2018 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 25th January 2018, 04:46 PM   #6
Ben Mah is offline Ben Mah  Canada
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From reading the ad, it seems to me that the seller purchased the official DiyAudio Sony VFET kit and supplemental parts kit and then had someone build it for him. He doesn't need it anymore so now he is selling it. So it's not like he had pcbs copied and a complete copycat amp built and then is representing and selling it as a Nelson Pass DiyAudio Sony VFET amp.

It seems to me that he is selling a genuine DiyAudio Sony VFET amp that he does not need any more and he has described it as such.

Does it make any difference whether he built the amp or had someone build it for him?

To take it another step, what if I build a Nelson Pass released design for personal use and after some time I decide that since I am not using it any more, I am going to sell it. Is that ok?
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Old 25th January 2018, 04:58 PM   #7
Doppler9000 is offline Doppler9000  Canada
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Originally Posted by Ben Mah View Post
From reading the ad, it seems to me that the seller purchased the official DiyAudio Sony VFET kit and supplemental parts kit and then had someone build it for him.

It seems to me that he is selling a genuine DiyAudio Sony VFET amp that he does not need any more and he has described it as such.

Does it make any difference whether he built the amp or had someone build it for him?

To take it another step, what if I build a Nelson Pass released design for personal use and after some time I decide that since I am not using it any more, I am going to sell it. Is that ok?
The initial build was commissioned - it isn't DIY at all. It was a purely commercial transaction. DIY seems to be the key to the condition on which Nelson releases his designs, and for which IP protections don't apply.

It seems fundamentally different, to me, when the product is expressly made for sale.
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Old 25th January 2018, 07:02 PM   #8
Michael Rothacher is offline Michael Rothacher  United States
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Does this contravene implied terms of use?
Is this a real question, or are we just stirring the pot?
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Old 25th January 2018, 07:34 PM   #9
nigelwright7557 is offline nigelwright7557  United Kingdom
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Why not just ask the owner of the IP if you can make one (or more) ?

I did that with an old 50 watt Maplin amp many years ago.
Maplin said it was fine so long as Maplin wasnt mentioned on the project as they didnt want lots of calls about faulty amps.
As it panned out I made 5 and really struggled to sell them.
When I finally did, I sold them on ebay and the buyer wasn't happy with them.
I asked him to send them back.
For some reason he decided to send me back a lump of wood with nails in it !
So he kept items, got refunded and left me negative feedback !
So I gave up.

Its pretty much a waste of time trying to sell amplifier modules on ebay (or elsewhere)
Too much competition and too few customers and when you do sell them no profit or even a loss.
Clearly I speak as a UK resident.

Rant over.
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Last edited by nigelwright7557; 25th January 2018 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 25th January 2018, 07:52 PM   #10
Doppler9000 is offline Doppler9000  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rothacher View Post
Is this a real question, or are we just stirring the pot?
If "we" means me, I want to know the answer.

Over the past few months I have purchased a number of First Watt products including kits, partially assembled kits, and a finished product built by the designer himself. I bought the latter, a new B4, by the way, partly because I felt it was an amazing deal given the required part count-driven soldering labor. It seemed that the labor was substantially under-priced given my estimate of Nelson’s opportunity cost. He is probably faster, though, than I had initially assumed.

Many months before that I considered the commission approach for kit-building but gathered it was verboten.

There was a thread on a forum, I can’t recall which one, about a guy in the States who was building First Watt amps for sale. He was infamous on the forum in question and the practice was highly frowned upon.

So, I bought an ACA.

You are the closest to an authority on the matter that has participated in the thread. Your question seems to indicate that you feel this is a non-issue.

Last edited by Doppler9000; 25th January 2018 at 08:05 PM.
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