Intellectual Property (IP) and Marketing Road Blocks

Intellectual Property (IP) and Marketing Road Blocks

As engineers, we like to talk about the latest gadget or, more importantly, about our latest designs. I personally get very passionate about my designs and the stuff I have done.

For example, I enjoyed talking about my involvement with Formula Engine Control units in a recent blog. I also talked about ways in which I have used differing technologies like I2C. However, there are time when we can’t talk about things, things that cover Intellectual Property (IP).

Over a year ago, I attended an RS Components sales show ( or known better as Allied Electronics in the US). This is where I and my company get to sell and introduce our new products to the RS sales force. In the evening, I got talking to a number of RS internal people about the lack of engineering communities and how this IP stuff, in my view, is a road block.

IP affects engineers that work directly for a company or are contractors, for example. When developing new designs, you basically have to keep low profile about what you’re designing as you don’t want the competition hearing about it or to give away details that a later patent may rely on.

To explain the issue, I suggested considering you had a motorbike (which I do) and you go on forums to talk about were to get the best tires or ask about repairs. You may also talk about upgrades, etc.  This is all fine as the bike is not built by you, and everyone freely talks about the subject. The same is true for hobby engineering, we can all visit DesignSpark and element14 and even Dave Jones’ EEVBlog Forum.  Here we can ask questions and post blogs. The forums are free for as all to talk about whatever we want.

However, I find myself constantly restricted by IP. I can’t go on forums and have the same open chats with other engineers about my daily problems, issues, and developments. I could happily spend hours talking about my latest thingy-jig, but no. This is where forums fail for me as there is so much I could share, and that includes blogs, too. Hence IP becomes a major road-block for me in what I can talk about.

You may have noticed that I write the odd blog or two and in this respect I’m encouraged to talk about certain topics. However, here again there are restrictions. Marketing departments spend lots of time (apparently [tongue -in-cheek]) developing plans of when documentation will be released, when products will be released at shows or on web sites. This again is most frustrating as we engineers who have spent ages designing a product, avoid talking about it on forums or with other engineers only to find you have to wait months for a press release!

We also get asked by these same marketing departments to write technical content for magazines. Once such article comes to mind where I was told I have a two page spread and could run to 700 or 800 words. Article written, I then found the the magazine had cut us to one page, and I needed to hack chucks out of the article so we could get it all on the page along side some pretty pictures of the product. No matter what I do, every time I read it, it feels like its been hacked to bits.

So this week, I want to know what things stop you getting on with your passion for engineering? Do external things stop you from doing your job? Maybe it’s IP or Marketing restrictions, like myself, or it could be because of finances or even your personal life.

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