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  1. #1

    Angry Help! Someone stole my engineering!!

    We had a customer that requested our CAD files and we foolishly provided them. They in turn "resubmitted" our work with their name on it and have broken their contract with us. They fancy themselves control contractors now. The drawings have a standard not to be reproduced or transferred without permission on them. Is this considered intellectual property theft? What if anything can be done about it?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    Posts
    1,627
    At some time they where your customer and paid you to do the engineering right? so should they not have the right to use the drawings? I know that it seems wrong for them to re-use your drawings with their name on them, maybe your contract should state that any copies/re-use of the drawings should at least have a originally drawn by box on them.

    Kevin
    "Profit is not the legitimate purpose of business. The legitimate purpose of business is to provide a product or service that people need and do it so well that it's profitable."

    James Rouse

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    28
    In Sandler Sales training you learn that your prospects and customers view the purchase process as an opportunity to get you to "spill your candy" without making a purchase. It is very difficult to take back engineering or your valuable insight once they have it. The reality is, they will probably not do the job properly, and since you know where it is going, you have the opportunity to do a direct sale of services to the new client. It gives you the chance to educate the client how poorly they performed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Gold Coast of Connecticut
    Posts
    4,619
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary R View Post
    In Sandler Sales training you learn that your prospects and customers view the purchase process as an opportunity to get you to "spill your candy" without making a purchase. It is very difficult to take back engineering or your valuable insight once they have it. The reality is, they will probably not do the job properly, and since you know where it is going, you have the opportunity to do a direct sale of services to the new client. It gives you the chance to educate the client how poorly they performed.
    I used to know for a fact the prints released by a previous company i worked for would have major errors which could cause major issues if used. They would fix the print if they got the job.
    Aire Serv of SW Connecticut- Gas heat, dual fuel and central a/c systems installed and serviced

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    323
    If you had that notice on your drawings, I'd talk to a lawyer. And if that didn't help, I'd advise the A/E firms and project owner what happened, and disclaim all responsibility for the accuracy of your drawings. That would let them know the real story and give you a reason for notifying them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    463
    Yes, I've seen that with every controls jobs bid, only when they get the job they corrected the drawings.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    230
    What they did was not ethecal.
    Unfortunately it is what happens in the controls industry and many other similar industries, almost every day.

    Your situation may have a couple of issues that would likely cause your legal council to advise you to be more careful in the future, but that you do not have gounds for a successful "cause of action":
    1. Unless you can factually prove that you lost money directly caused by them using you drawings, you will not likely sustain a cause of action. Even if you did win, the only results would likely be your lost profit on that project, likely not enough to cover the cost of litigation.
    2. There is very little "original concept" in any control engineering drawings in the last 10 to 20 years. Chances are that some portion of your "engineering drawings", could be derivative work of others that you may have over time, customized onto your title block, this however doesn't make your work "original work". I am not saying that that is what you did, but they would test you "originality" in the discovery process.
    3. We have used non disclosure and non compete contracts to prevent this, and I still find my original works on plubic plans and specs by large engineering firms (cut and paste functionality is the first thing designers seem to learn in school).

    Anyway, sorry to see you experience this, yet, learn from it, and now you will be a bit smarter as time moves on.
    Best part of it, you discovered a RAT that you should nave no further dealings with.

    Good luck

    Drac
    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit" Aristotle

    Remember to "Pay it Forward"; help out the newer generation of techs, remember someone during our career helped us! ("Pay it Forward" was by someone smarter than me!!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Near Philly
    Posts
    514
    Quote Originally Posted by emtech View Post
    We had a customer that requested our CAD files and we foolishly provided them. They in turn "resubmitted" our work with their name on it and have broken their contract with us. They fancy themselves control contractors now. The drawings have a standard not to be reproduced or transferred without permission on them. Is this considered intellectual property theft? What if anything can be done about it?

    Thanks
    Don't send any documents or drawings to anybody in the native, editable format. Convert all to a PDF, before sending. Hopefully, your company got paid for the time.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    steeler nation
    Posts
    2,083
    send me a copy of your cad drawings. i will copy er i mean take a look and give you my opinion. seriously, i always send my submittals as pdf's. once we got the job and money was changing hands if they wanted the cad files i would send them. what are you supposed to do? this is is a small industry. if you want to keep bidding to, and working for these companys you dont have much of a choice.
    what dracula said is on the money. drawings can be time consuming but there is really no secrets anymore. this has become a cut and paste industry. the engineering is in the programming not the drawings. most of what i do i have learned from looking at other peoples stuff.
    IV IV IX

    use your head for something other than a hat rack.......Gerry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    529
    If you look at mapmakers work you will find that they draw in extra dead end roads that don't exist. That way they know and can prove in court when they have been illegally obtained...the defendant looks like a tool in court, judge finds for the plaintiff, and Bob's your uncle.

    Add a circuit with a timer that sets off an alarm or phone dialer not easily found that only you can fix. Show up at their customers doorstep with the drawings and your story of their deceit...it will get their customers wary at least.

    Or just spray fox urine on the front step of their business. Trust me on this.

  11. #11
    Thanks for the thoughts guys

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    steeler nation
    Posts
    2,083
    Quote Originally Posted by koolkahuna View Post

    Or just spray fox urine on the front step of their business. Trust me on this.
    remind me to never piss you off!
    IV IV IX

    use your head for something other than a hat rack.......Gerry

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    529
    Never done it but it is some nasty odor. Your nose tries to hide in your face.

    Some behavior almost requires that smell to go with it. Just sayin'.

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