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Value of a company's CAD title block

Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
If this is an improper posting, please let me know.  I'm new to this site, and I do not want to violate your policies.

I am a mechanical engineer and I represent a designer who copied and modified his previous employer's AutoCAD title block to use at his new company.  I would like to get members' opinions as to a dollar value of the damages to the employer.  The employer claims over $2 million.  No drawings were taken, only the title block, and it was modified.

Thank you.  Again, if this is out of line, I apologize.

I hope to contribute to this site in the future.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I'd bet a dollar they stole it from someone else.

Is there a copyright notice on the image he took?  Do look carefully.  In a CAD file, it could be hidden in super tiny text that plots too small to see, or hidden in wasted space in the file that doesn't plot at all, but is present, and will show up in a dump of the file.  If you don't know what that means, find someone who does.

Absent a copyright notice, well ... talk to your lawyer anyway.



Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

What damage did the previous company sustain by someone copying their title block?

cheers
SW07-SP3

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

CorBlimeyLimey -

While I don't know the specifics of this case I can speak from experience as a consultant that your identity as a company can be damaged.  

Most title blocks for consulting companies are treated like a corporate identity and over years the company's work is quickly identifiable by a client.  When the client is presented with similar drawings and leaner costs clients figure that they are getting the same quality as the former company but at less costs.  So the client dumps original company.

I don't know that there is a copyright on title blocks or title borders but I do see the perception.  And as we know in society today, anyone can sue anybody for just about anything.

Regards,
Qshake
pipe
Eng-Tips Forums:Real Solutions for Real Problems Really Quick.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

But unless the title block had a particularly artistic layout which in itself was a "logo" branded to the company, then a title block is a title block is a title block ... assuming no obvious company names or logos or unique fonts were left in the block.

You are correct though; anyone can sue anybody for just about anything ... and win!!!

cheers
SW07-SP3

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Thanks everyone.  I appreciate your opinions and your quick repsonse.

I'm acting as an expert witness.  I'm not personally involved.  I agree the guy shouldn't have used his previous employer's file.  It is a fairly standard title block with no visible references to the previous employer.  

Thanks again.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

The simplest thing to do is to collect up a bunch of title blocks from unrelated drawings and show that they're all pretty similar and no reasonable person could associate that title block with that company.

Obviously, they didn't spend $2 million designing that gold-plated title block, did they?  And it you can show that there's not unique about the title block itself, there really can be any claim of adverse economic impact.

TTFN

Eng-Tips Policies FAQ731-376


RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

There are various standard title blocks available in AutoCAD and other places.  You can or could buy paper for hand drafting with preprinted title blocks.  If you can show that some other source(s) also used title blocks very similar, seems it would help.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Oh, a cool experiment would be to copy a bunch of different title blocks onto a single sheet and ask the jury, or the judge, if htey can pick out that company's title block, strictly from the design.

TTFN

Eng-Tips Policies FAQ731-376


RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

One other way of looking at this...

Technically, your friend has committed the crime of theft. I assume he electronically took the title block from the first firm's data. Without the express permission of that company, he has no right to have any of their data (however small and insignificant he may deem that to be). If the title block he took had the first companies logo, name, address etc. then I think they will have a very strong case against him personally.

From the point of view of the dollar value of a claim against the second company, there are any number of ways that the second company can substansiate their claim. They can base it on loss of revenue (direct loss of projects and contracts to the second company), or loss/degradation of corporate image due to customer confusion.

Kevin Hammond

Mechanical Design Engineer
Derbyshire, UK
 

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I'm sorry but a title block is not the property of a company.  It is more than likely an arbitrary design someone came up with which is most likely a spin off of a standard ASME block.  The only way this company can claim any damages is if they hold the appropriate copywrite paper work that shows they own that design.  If that is the case, then I am afraid to say they should probably go after many other people and companies as most blocks look almost the same.  Without the paperwork they have nothign, and personally I would like to see a copywrite office that would awarde that status to a companies title block...

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Wow if anyone is interested in “stealing” my company title block for $2M please let me know.

I would be more than happy to throw in the company logo, various PC’s and laptops, software, printers, copiers and faxes various office furniture and a full order book.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Thanks for your continuing comments.  

If you think about it, every title block is an adaptation of someone else's, whether it is a Standard (ANSI, ISO, etc.) or another company.  The guy's previous employer didn't start his design from scratch either.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

In the the early days of CAD it was quite common to change the layout of a print based on a feature seen on someone else's title block or border layout. It seemed that every group wanted their own until the corporate published a edict that included the preferred layout. There was a lot of time wasted by management on this subject.

I generally agree with sbozy25 with the exception of the copywrite office as I've seen many things that carried a copywrite that I would have considered common knowledge.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Hi,
what I'm writing could possibly not be appliable in USA, but anyway...
- if it's true that the titleblock has been modified, and if it's true that any explicit reference to the original company is removed, then (at least in Italy...) this is NO LONGER the same title block, and this definitely closes the matter.
- the "original company", on the other hand, DO CAN sue the designer who has stolen an electronic document, whichever the use he has made of it afterwards, for the simple fact he behaved as a thief. But, first of all it has to demonstrate the theft, then it has to demonstrate the economical damage it claims...

Regards

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Was the previous employer's title block derived from someone else's template (i.e CAD system default)?

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I just noticed someone has the same header and footer on their excel spreadsheet as the one my company uses.  They both contain a title, description, date, sheet numbers, and file name.  Can we sue them???  

This is really sad.  Most likely, the original company created their title block by looking at or copying someone elses title block.  They added their own customizations to it and called it their own.  I think it's just sour apples...

<tg>

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Yeah really... If this is how things are going to be from now on I just give up.  We might as well find the original engineer who designed the first title block and have him sue the entire manufacturing world for using a derivitive of his design.  In a way we are all thiefs!

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Hell, you can have my title block for a cup of coffee and you'll still be paying WAY too much.  I think the "thief" should counter sue for pain and suffering and mental anguish at being sued for $2 million.

David

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

You can sue anyone for anything.

Patents protect ideas.  If you had a patent on the idea of putting a header on a spreadsheet, you could go after anyone who ever put a header of any kind on any spreadsheet.  (First you need the time machine to establish precedence, but that's another matter.)


If you put a copyright notice on your customized spreadsheet header and someone copies it without permission, your suit against them could prevail.  

Copyrights protect the _expression_ of ideas, not the idea itself.  So a header in a different format, i.e. visually distinct, would not infringe your copyright.  But if someone copies your work and does not make the copy visually distinct enough to qualify as a different expression of the same idea, _and_ you have applied a copyright notice, you would have a good case.  I don't think it's even necessary for the plaintiff to prove that damage resulted; they can just demand an arbitrary license fee, or excision of the offending material from every copy ever made.







Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I only studied a little law at uni but I suspect taking the electronic document may count as theft as others say but unless they have some really weird or wonderful format or he forgot to remove a logo that was copyright etc then I don't really see the copyright case.  

Doesn't mean there isn't one though as the law can seem weird and wonderful at times.

That said if you are in the US then I think you owe it to your client to familiarize yourself with:

ASME Y14.1-1995 Decimal Inch Drawing Sheet  Size and Format

If the format broadly complies with this document then I don't see anyway it can be a true copyright issue.  Other countries/ISO/metric probably have equivalents.

The only way I can see $2m is if they can prove that they lost/stand to lose that much business, perhaps to confusion of drawings as another poster said.

I'm getting worried now, I based sections of my current employers DRM on one from a previous employer, am I going to get sued?

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Mike,

You are right.  In this case, when the issue came up the title blocks were immediately replaced. (It was a contract draftsman, not the defendant who modified the title block.) The plaintiff is claiming it took him thousands of man-hours to develop the title block, and that his title block design (which includes only standard data)results in a 10% savings on everything he manufactures.  These claims are made by an engineer.  Several other ridiculous claims are included.  

Again, there isn't any allegation of theft of actual drawings or part designs; only the title block is at issue.

The real problem is that in civil suits there is no such thing as reasonable demands.  Totally outlandish demands are taken as seriously as reasonable demands, and if the person making these demands (often a "professional" engineer)can lie convincingly he may well prevail.

This may not be the proper venue to express this kind of opinion, other than in some cases this problem is aggravated by unscrupulous and unethical members of our profession, and I think this is a concern to all of us.   

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I would like to see them prove that he "stole" the drawing.  Since he was an engineer he constantly had access to the drawings so there would be no way for them to "log" a specific time that he had one out and took it.  For all they know he could have just remembered what it looked like and re-produced a similar image.  I swear to god that if this company wins the lawsuit, I am walking to my lawyer and generating some suits of my own!  

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Kenat,

I wouldn't worry.  The real issue is that the defendant (little guy) has a better design than the plaintiff (big guy) and the title block issue is just a means to make him spend money defending himself and hopefully put him out of business.  

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Sbozy25,

Sorry if I got you upset,  although it's sometimes hard not to be.  My report is due shortly, but this thing will go on for months.  If you are interested, I'll let you know how it ends.

Thanks,

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

2
Theft? Sure.  2Million damages? Not so sure.

But now that you mention it, a cool idea would be to use micro-text of the company name as 'lines' in your title block.  It'll show up on electronic files and very good printers so that's maybe worth something. (TM) (R) (C) (patent pending) :)

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I can see the companies entire image costing $2M with all the marketing and business development costs it takes to put their image on the forefront.

If the designer removed that companies digital property without permission he is a thief.

Heckler
Sr. Mechanical Engineer
SWx 2007 SP 3.0 & Pro/E 2001
XP Pro SP2.0 P4 3.6 GHz, 1GB RAM
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1400
      o
  _`\(,_
(_)/ (_)

(In reference to David Beckham) "He can't kick with his left foot, he can't tackle, he can't head the ball and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that, he's all right."  -- George Best

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I'm curious how the previous employer came to find out that the designer took their title block and used it to create one for his new employer.  Is this part of a larger lawsuit where the guy took a lot of confidential drawings/intellectual property to his new job or started his own company designing very similar components to the ones his old employer designed and the previous employer is going after him for that?

It just seems odd that a company would waste so much resources going after the guy for this.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Ataloss,

See my reply to Kenat above.  The title block isn't the real issue.  The defendant came up with a better design for the actual tool and the plaintiff doesn't want the competition.  If I could disclose all of the morbid details the situation would make more sense.

Thanks,
Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
SylvestreW,

That's a good idea, but now none of us can use it.  Maybe a licensing fee? LOL

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I think copyright law works in reverse, too.

I.e., if you _don't_ put "copyright <year> <holder_name>" or "(C) <year> holder_name" on the "expression" _somewhere_, then anyone is free to copy it without restriction.

That would leave the defendant free and clear, _if_ he had regenerated the title block by, say, measuring a printed copy and building a clone via artwork or a CAD program.

;--

In this case, it appears that the defendant or his agent acquired and modified a computer file, and the action is based on the laws that apply to theft, not copyright law.

I'm conjecturing (as a non- lawyer) that one might be able to build a defense using copyright law, i.e. asserting that the defendant _could_have_ produced the clone by means that are perfectly legal under copyright law ... and offering to compensate the plaintiff for any media that were involved.

At which point, if I were the judge, I'd go after the plaintiff for abuse of process.  But I'm not the judge.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

LarryEF,

   I think the plaintiff should explain in court how he spent thousands of hours designing his title block.  

   A 10% savings on everything he manufactures is a challenge too.  A really big performance improvement usually indicates that they were pretty crummy when they started off.

   Could the title block have macros embedded in it?  Quite a few years ago, I created some AutoCAD titleblocks and wrote some AutoLISP programs to manipulate them.  I cannot claim I improved productivity 10%.  I wrote copyright notices on my software.  You cannot use it without company permission.

                     JHG

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Hi,
LarryEF, we're all speaking about "defendants" and "plaintiffs", but did the company actually sue the designer or did it "only" menace a lawsuit?

In the second case, I wouldn't even bother with a stupidity like the company's claim, and just wait for them to take any action (if they dare to...), as far as it seems they have been idiot enough to miss the only point where - perhaps - there could effectively be a claim: the "theft", or call it "copy" or "subtraction" if you prefer, of an electronic document, which is implicitly the property of the company (regardless if there is a copyright note or not, and regardless if the designer had constant access to it or not). At least, this is what would apply in Italy - in other countries, I don't know.

Regards

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
DrawOH,

You're right.  You would think the plaintiff's engineer would have thought about having to defend his claims under oath as you suggest.  Evidently some people, even intelligent people,  make claims like this causually and without thinking ahead.

On the other hand, I've seen cases where the evidence supporting one party was totally overwelming and indisputable, but since the judge didn't understand the technical issues, he just said what-the-hell and split the difference rather than make the effort.  King Solomon's approach isn't always right.

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

If it's of help I just spent some time creating a new format for a 'non drawing' CAD file.  I also sit with the guy that created our templates based closely on ASME Y14.1-1995 "Decimal Inch Drawing Sheet  Size and Format" and I help with their maintenance.

So if you want an estimate of how many hours it may take to create templates I could give some info.

I will say this, if it took him thousands of man hours just to create the title block then his business will fail because he's so slow/incompetant/inefficient, not because someone took his title blocksmile.  

A good CAD title block/drawing format which helps makes sure all relevant info is there and that auto fills from CAD properties certainly can save time but I find it hard to believe it amounts to 10% on the actual product.  At a push maybe 10% per drawing but no way on the actual product.

Did he literally just copy the 2D layout or were there linked file properties etc that auto fill the format?

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Cbrn,

It's way past the menance stage.  I heard that legal expenses are well over $1 million so far, and we are months from a final trial date.  Unfortunately hardly any of that goes to me. LOL.

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

(OP)
Kenat,

The paintiff is a privately owned company worth hundreds of millions.

Thanks for your offer.  I didn't expect to get anywhere near this many valuable comments.

The title block used attributes entered upon insertion, but no links or relationships to other files.

Thanks,

Larry

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

I just talked to the guy who made our templates it was a couple of years ago so he can't remember detail but he'd estimate it took 2-4 weeks.

There are provisos:  he got interuptions so he probably didn't spend 100% of that time on the templates.

Also he was new to the CAD system which obviously made it slower.

Finally this was effectively 8 templates, B, C, D & E size and each had a continuation sheet format for sheets use on drawings with more than one sheet.

Personally if I had to do it again from scratch then I'd guess no more than 40 hours work, maybe only half that.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

It took me less than 24 hours to create the 8 templates listed by KENAT, following Y14.1.  They are intelligent in that they will self update as file properties change.  I recently spent another 10 hours creating a logo (pre-existing, but wrong file format) and updating the formats with it.  If it was worth as much as the plaintiff claims, then we are all in the wrong business.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Yeah, thinking about it 40 hours is definitely on the high side.

To do the template for the 'non drawing' 2D cadfile which had a front sheet and continuation, basically only took 3 hours or so plus an hour or two later once I had comments suggestions from others and found a couple of errors to correct.

If it took him thousands he has a problem.  

I'll learn his CAD system and create one for lets say, $1msmile

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Look on your paper.  See that plain white border around the outside of the title block?  I invented that.  You all owe me big time...

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Where should I send this crispy $100 bill with the plain white border around it?  Hey, maybe you can just collect from uncle sam...

<tg>

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

LarryEF,
  No I am not up set.  I think ammused is more the proper term to use here.  I am very interested in how this turns out because it seems like such an out-landish clame.  No drawing of a title block in the world, no matter how great it is, can save 10% time.  They generally do not contain data that is needed for most manufacturing.  They contain data that the suits generally use, ie. material that needs to be bought, specifications for the part, etc...  The only thing I can think manufacturing would need to know is english or metric.  Also, as others have said... There is no way that this block took thousands of hours to develop unless the guy is just plain dumb with his cad system.  The should take no more than a few hours at most.  You need to do us all a favor and let us know how this ends because I think this qualifies as one of the most pointless suits of the year! :)

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

So if I put 10 title blocks on a drawing then it draws itself. Excellent.

Cheers

Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Hi,

Greg, this is the best reply in this thread !!! winky smile
I've got all my collegues laughing... 'cause they always get bored when it comes to fill-in a titleblock.

LarryEF, I'm sincerely disappointed. That's a shame. Things may go very bad in Italy but at least a lawsuit like that would have been rejected right at the first audience (and nobody would have spent 1 MILLION !!!!!!!! for lawyers - they are known to be rich enough even without these absurdities...). I'm also curious to know how it will end, because if this company won, then it would be a very, very, very bad time coming on...

Regards

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

larry,  
i think you've got plenty ammunition to describe this as a frivilous suit.  There is no technical value of the title block, if there are no distinguishing features how does anyone know from whence it came, even if it was taken from someone, they haven't lost anything (they still have the title block don't they?).  the plaintive should be asked to quantify how his title block saves him an astounding 10% of everything.  indeed, i think you mentioned earlier that the (possibly unconscious) point to the suit is to tie up a competitor and to possibly force them out of business ... this is surely an abuse of having more money than sense.  

i hope you are able to collect a big fee !!

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Is there anything unique about it?  You might want to check with a few engineering/architectural firms and get copies of their titleblock to show the courts that they are common.

You might want to find out during examination what if any firms the principles of the new firm worked for and obtain copies of their titleblocks for comparison... even, if you can show the courts that the same basic information is shown... The only thing that sets my titleblock off from anyone elses is the inclusion of a file number that is consecutive and unique to the drawing as well as the inclusion of the scale factor for the drawing... and it's possible that hundreds of firms use similar methods.

I hope ??? hasn't admitted that he's copied the original with modification... contrition, in particular with litigation, is not good for the soul...

Dik

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Forgot to add... welcome to the site...

Dik

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

"they haven't lost anything (they still have the title block don't they?).  "

Mmm, that's the argument that software pirates and music copiers use. As a creative profession we should be fighting for the protection of intellectual property, except where it has been explicitly released for free use. I do both.

Cheers

Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

and an earlier comment about whores... you have it, you sell it, and you still got it... <G>

Dik

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Larry,

If rb's comments above are correct, then the defendant actually has a counter-suit case against the plantiff for suing for no other reason that to damage the defedant.  I forget was the legal term is.  

Matt
CAD Engineer/ECN Analyst
Silicon Valley, CA
http://sw.fcsuper.com/index.php

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

"I forget was the legal term is. "

I believe it's known as SalivatingLawyerItis

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

You're all assuming that the claim for damages is based on the cost of the title block itself.  Something that large has to be based on economic damages, e.g., loss of sales or confusion of customers.  

In some cases, this is a valid argument.  Harley Davidson won a case of trademark infringement against Suzuki, for copying their trademarked exhaust sound.

TTFN

Eng-Tips Policies FAQ731-376


RE: Value of a company's CAD title block


first prize goes to the self-assembling title blocks...

My own experience is that it is not uncommon for a customer to mandate the drawing format and title block design all to the greif of the contractor, even requiring their own logos etc. This is extended, in the case of a general contractor on very large projects, to include his title block design in addition to that of the owner. It is not just to collect $2 million from all involved, but to insure how the plant data books are assembled and that the drawings can be retrived in the various file systems.

Sounds like the injured party is upset about the loss of a customer, rather than the supposed theft of the title block layout, but it was the only weapon at hand.

Title blocks are not commonly copyrighted, but if the first party can successfully show that an electronic file was stolen, as opposed to provided to the second party by the owner, he might have a valid basis for a claim of theft, but not for managing to duplicate a layout

my 2 cents

 

RE: Value of a company's CAD title block

Theft is not something you can sue for per se.  You sue for damages.  If you stole a car and wrecked it, you sue for the loss of the car.  The big company can say and prove how the person got their title block, but what is their damages.

The design cost of the block is not a damage because they still have it.  The loss of future revenue because the average person thinks the small guy is really the big guy, then the big guy has been damaged.

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