Protecting IP with the new breed of 3D design

Published 08 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, siemens plm, collaboration, pdm, manage, intellectual property, engineer

One thing I’ve been thinking about of late is the new breed of modeling technology that’s clearly coming on stream, which allows you to work with geometry in a very freeform, unrestricted manner. If, you can load a part or assembly, then edit it, without recourse to the construction history, you have the ability to edit a part without having knowledge about how it was constructed. And believe me, I think that’s a good thing, when the tools finally get there, it means that we’ll be able to concentrate on design and engineering, rather that operation of software.


The benefit of history and features is that you are storing the intelligence in your model, of how you construct the part, how you design it. With the rise of more intelligent features and such, you can store a great deal more information about the design intent, the process you went through to create those forms. In other words, the CAD model, at present, reflection a big portion of your intellectual property.

While its a royal pain in the arse, it also means that if you’re working in a supply chain, you can protect your intellectual property to a large extent, because of this complexity. If a design change needs to be made, then the customer has to come back to you and your design team to effect that change, because, they have the knowledge of how it was constructed. and for many organizations, that consultative role is a source of revenue and on-going business.

If this new breed of modeling tool does not rely on that recipe that you store, and anyone can load the part, edit the information it represents, then that revenue might be lost.

Absolutely, I’m absolutely aware that the intellectual property held within a CAD system is the end result of the process, rather than the be-all and end-all of your organization’s skills, the fact remains that this is something that more and more organizations are going to have to accept and deal with. How do you protect your data? what tools are available to ensure that your intellectual property is protected. Does is mean that the integration of Digital Right Management tools, such as LivePolicy from Adobe are the way to go, or as Bruce Boes of Siemens PLM Software commented in an interview I conducted recently, “This is something that should be rationalised with the security capabilites within your software, whether that’s through your PDM system or through your CAD system”- it all that remains to be seen.

Its an interesting concept and I think something the industry as a whole is going to have to face up to at some point and I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on the subject.


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