Friday, 4 July 2014

Licensing

posted 1 Mar 2014 22:14 by David Taylor

The names in this post have been omitted to protect the innocent... ;-)

I went to the House4Hack Johannesburg chapter for the first time last week. I walked in and introduced myself as David, but no one knew who I was, despite me visiting House4Hack Centurion fairly frequently for the last 8 months. One of the guys then asked if I was very active on the forums. I said I was, but they still didn't know who I was. I then mentioned that my username was Gineer.

Suddenly everyone knew who I was, grind and said: "O, that gineer?". I'm not that active on the forums, but I knew exactly what they were thinking of.

While I was building my Delta 3D printer, I needed a print surface to put ontop of my heatbed. I thought of using glass, but by some fluke the glass place was closed over Christmas and I ended up designing an aluminium plate cut-out. In hindsight this was less of a design and more of a form function. Have a look at my "PCB Heatbed MK2a Plate (3 hole mounting)" and "PCB Heatbed MK2a Plate (4 hole mounting)".

One of the guys, who runs a shop where H4H'ers can buy bits and pieces, contacted me and said that his design looked very similar, after I offered to have a couple extra cut since I was having some done anyway. The puzzling thing to me was that the design he sent me was only similar in the fact that you could cut both out of 3mm aluminium.
His Design
My Design
Version 1.0
At this point I wrote it off as being a bit of craziness on his side and moved on.

I had the plates cut and handed out 18 of them at House4Hack Centurion. One of the guys who I gave some plates to mentioned to me that the aforementioned shop had an item marked New that looked very similar, and that he heard rumors that this particular shop had liberated a couple of designs from other members and profited from them. I had a look and sure enough, there was my plate, being sold for more than double what it cost me to have it manufactured.

I contacted him and asked how my design was doing in terms of sales...

Long story short: turns out he designed a very similar plate, sent me the wrong design file, originally, and took exception to me saying that it was my design. We had both designed the same plate. The unfortunate part came when he decided to publish our discussion on the forum, which obviously upset the rest of the forum members and provided me with the aforementioned notoriety.

To save the House4Hack forum from further public discussion, I bowed out and gave him the accreditation for version 1. I have however subsequently added some real design features in version 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 which is now starting to depart from the forum function to an actual design anyway.

Lesson Learnt: Be careful when people send you queries, even especially when it makes no sense, because, it's probably a PEBKAK error on their side. I should have clarified at the time.

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