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Reverse engineering has the protection of law in the U.S.

 
 
Weng Tianxiang
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      06-28-2006
Hi,
Do you know "reverse engineering has the protection of law"?

A good paper in
http://www.fpgajournal.com/articles_..._security2.htm
tell the following story:
the Supreme Court ruling that "A trade secret law, however, does not
offer protection against discovery by fair and honest means, such as by
independent invention, accidental disclosure, or by so-called reverse
engineering, that is by starting with the known product and working
backward to divine the process which aided in its development or
manufacture."

I don't know it until today after reading a reference by Austin Lesea
and I would like others to share the information.

Weng

 
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Austin Lesea
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      06-29-2006
Weng,

Yes, reverse engineering has a long, and honorable history.

If I see how it is done by another, and then do it for much less cost,
with more features or more performance, without infringing on any
existing patents, then I am well within the law.

Austin


Weng Tianxiang wrote:

> Hi,
> Do you know "reverse engineering has the protection of law"?
>
> A good paper in
> http://www.fpgajournal.com/articles_..._security2.htm
> tell the following story:
> the Supreme Court ruling that "A trade secret law, however, does not
> offer protection against discovery by fair and honest means, such as by
> independent invention, accidental disclosure, or by so-called reverse
> engineering, that is by starting with the known product and working
> backward to divine the process which aided in its development or
> manufacture."
>
> I don't know it until today after reading a reference by Austin Lesea
> and I would like others to share the information.
>
> Weng
>

 
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rickman
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-29-2006
Weng Tianxiang wrote:
> Hi,
> Do you know "reverse engineering has the protection of law"?
>
> A good paper in
> http://www.fpgajournal.com/articles_..._security2.htm
> tell the following story:
> the Supreme Court ruling that "A trade secret law, however, does not
> offer protection against discovery by fair and honest means, such as by
> independent invention, accidental disclosure, or by so-called reverse
> engineering, that is by starting with the known product and working
> backward to divine the process which aided in its development or
> manufacture."
>
> I don't know it until today after reading a reference by Austin Lesea
> and I would like others to share the information.


Reverse Engineering is a valid means of circumventing a Trade Secret.
But it will not get around Copyright or Patent. A Trade Secret
requires that the holder take all responsibility for keeping it a
secret. Other than stealing your paperwork, pretty much any way of
figuring out the Trade Secret is valid, including Reverse Engineering.
That s why so many documents are labeled "Trade Secret" or
"Confidential". They are only protected if labeled as such and you
only give them to persons who have signed an NDA (non-disclosure
agreement). Then if the docs are leaked out and you can identify who
leaked, they are liable for damages for your losses.

The fear of reverse engineering is why chips are sometimes private
labeled or the chip markings removed or even the module completely
potted. Of course there are always ways around most of these
techniques, but it ends up being a game of how much will one party
spend to protect a secret and how much will another party spend to
reveal a secret.

 
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