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Crowdfunding Design: Finding Money To Pay For Design Projects


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#16 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 07:18 PM

So much for "I'm not even going to bother arguing with you anymore"

yes your right, I only have two years of professional experience but do you think I'm impressed with your 16 years of experience? hardly. I work alongside designers who have more than twice as much experience as you, one of which was the former president of ACIDO and adviser to the committee responsible for developing the legal contracts which protect Industrial Designers, I think I'll take their advice instead.

It's not whether or not you take their advice; it's whether or not you have the full understanding and knowledge they've accumulated over the years; it's whether you can justifiably speak with authority on such matters. From what you've already said it's apparent you don't and you can't.

And to answer your question directly because you can't seem to read between the lines, by retaining native files you are protecting yourself by ensuring the design is developed exactly as you intend it. Like I said ultimately you are liable, yeah that clause you refer to in your design contracts is little more than a deterrent from someone sueing you if your products fails for whatever reason. Why do you think all designers who are member of ACIDO are covered with PRODUCT LIABILITY INSURANCE. It wouldn't exist if your legal garble was completely effective from preventing someone from sueing you.

I'm guessing you took some time to ask some questions of your boss or some truly senior, knowledgeable individuals. Never saw that clause, huh? And had someone explain product liability insurance, eh? Good for you. You've learned something in this exchange.

Now, to continue.

First: Liability - if it becomes an issue - is determined by the courts. So your blanket statement "you are liable" is false.

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Second: the need to protect/retain native CAD files because of the fear someone will make a change to the tooling documentation, primarily applies to a full-service industrial design and engineering firm taking legitimate responsibility for the part coming off the line, OR an industrial design firm advertising itself as an industrial design and engineering firm assuming responsibility when there is prudent reason not to do so. In the latter case, handing out native files is absolutely a dangerous activity as it exposes the firm's possible lack of engineering credentials which could result in a devastating lawsuit.

The assignment of responsibility is most often recorded in the contractual agreement (there are exceptions; such as verbal contracts ala "Oh yeah, we can give you CAD files you can tool these parts from"; in which case the plaintiff would need to prove you said what they're claiming was said).

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Third: Industrial design is not engineering.

Industrial design hands off to engineering and then the industrial designer works with engineering to ensure "the design is developed exactly as you intend it" ... within engineering and manufacturing constraints (among other things).

Are you a professionally licensed engineer? No.

Are you, as a typical industrial designer with only two years experience, qualified to personally and directly oversee the engineering and tooling of a part, and in a legally binding fashion approve such work and take full responsibility for the product as manufactured? No.

Should you, as a typical junior industrial designer, personally have the final say in the product as manufactured? No.

Ergo, liability should not fall upon you, the typical industrial designer.

As in most things, there are, of course, exceptions. However, they're not CAD documentation exceptions. They're industrial design expertise exceptions; areas in which IDers are - after some education and some experience you don't have - justifiably considered experts in a court of law. Two years does not generally an expert make. Sorry, but someone else - the owners of the firm for which you work - are covering your ass.

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Fourth: Product Liability Insurance is primarily needed by engineers, engineering firms, and those engineers responsible for the work of industrial designers. It's why Industrial Design is usually a department within Engineering.

Product Liability Insurance is certainly of use to industrial designers; especially those pretending to be engineers (and there are plenty of pretenders). It is, after all, insurance.

So with a contractual clause why does insurance exist? Because anyone can sue regardless of "legal garble". Lawsuits don't have to make sense. And neither do judgments awarded by the court.

However, just because we have PRODUCT LIABILITY INSURANCE, doesn't mean people don't sign contracts or needlessly state in them that a client choosing to make changes assumes liability. Quite the opposite; it's commonplace. And believe it or not, a well-written contract is often sufficient to prevent a lawsuit.

However, when dealing with those clients who assume responsibility without taking responsibility - and they do exist - it's the contractual evidence presented in court that's most meaningful; what you call the "legal garble"; not the insurance papers.

Simply having insurance isn't going to win a legal battle.

And yes, within two years I have already managed to position myself in an established and prominent design firm with responsibilities equivalent to that of a senior designer (although I don't refer to myself as a senior designer).

Being given responsibility doesn't necessarily mean you're qualified to have it. In the current economic situation, I know other designers being handed duties and responsibilities for which they're not prepared. Furthermore, if you don't refer to yourself as a "Senior Designer", why is it on your Core profile?

I recently finished a project where I was responsible for the design, development, and detailing of a product with over a million dollars and tooling, and I was the one sitting down with the client pitching them on the designs I had developed. I have even brought in my own client's for which I put together the design proposals, held client meetings, oversaw the design development, and dealt directly with the manufacturer for manufacturing.

Congratulations, tadpole. You're just like a lot of other industrial designers. Now do this for more than ten years (and don't break your arm in the meanwhile patting yourself on the back).

You're at the beginning of your professional education. Don't think that just because you've done this project you're at the level of truly senior industrial designers.

I am also in negotiations with one of the largest watercraft distributors in Europe who is interested in investing in a design that my colleague and I designed, and have also partnered up with another designer/investor to design and develop limited edition high end designer furniture.

Good for you. However, negotiations mean nothing until the check clears.

In the meantime, why not share with the industrial design community all the intellectual property work you did before you approached that distributor (as someone clinging to native CAD files, I assume you've behaved in the same fashion regarding your intellectual property). That's always a popular topic. I look forward to learning more.

So am I going to "run away with my tail between my legs", hmm I think not.

I love it when noob designers say stuff like "hmm, I think not". It's so "I'm experienced."

#17 vander

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 12:17 AM

you know I'm finding this whole thread pretty comical!

Were discussing an issue that was taught to us in what third year of an Industrial Design degree? Real difficult stuff! Maybe we can move on to fourth year professional practices by sometime next week. Oh yeah, that whole product liability insurance is such a hard concept to grasp, I must have had a designer with infinite years of knowledge pass that down to me.

Bottom line why take the risk when its completely unnecessary? At the end of the day our clients are happy and I've covered my ass.

You sound like a you have a lot of pent up frustration towards Industrial Design with all your ramblings of how "ID is dying" crap. You feel you've got to tell the world in all your blogs how design isn't all its cracked up to be because you probably never caught that lucky break you were hoping for. Or maybe you just have a passion for designing phones and toolboxes, who knows?

I think I'll agree to disagree, or better yet why don't you start a new thread with the topic "who thinks its a good idea to give away native files as deliverables to your client" as a poll and find out what the rest of the ID community has to say? Wait, that might expose how the industry actually doesn't give away native files as standard practice, hmm, on second thought you might not want to do that at the risk of looking, to put it nicely, ignorant.

#18 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 01:28 AM

Bottom line why take the risk when its completely unnecessary? At the end of the day our clients are happy and I've covered my ass.

Two words, Einstein: DIRECT MODELING

You seem to think that not handing over the native files will protect you from unauthorized changes and subsequent lawsuits. Except that with the new CAD tools, holding onto native files doesn't stop someone from making those unauthorized changes. Consequently, you haven't covered your ass. All you're doing is potentially pissing off a client by withholding files which would never have been created if they hadn't paid for you to create them.

Don't believe me. See for yourself:

"See how you can thrive in a multi-cad world. This demonstration show how edits to imported parts are as productive as native changes." - YouTube video.

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You sound like a you have a lot of pent up frustration towards Industrial Design with all your ramblings of how "ID is dying" crap. You feel you've got to tell the world in all your blogs how design isn't all its cracked up to be because you probably never caught that lucky break you were hoping for. Or maybe you just have a passion for designing phones and toolboxes, who knows?

Because you're obviously too simple-minded to understand this, when I wrote The Death of “Industrial Design” (note the quotations), what I was saying was that the profession has become MORE than “Industrial Design”. This is the same thing now being said by both Jon Kolko of frogdesign and Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO.

If you'd done your homework instead of blathering, you'd have understood that when reading this from the link I posted in the companion thread to which you're referring:

"for many of us, industrial design is something much more. It’s about developing solutions within the constraints imposed by manufacturing; incorporating as much style as possible without impacting other “design” issues (ergonomics, material limitations, molding issues, aso) and sometimes compromising style – often reluctantly – to meet the legitimate needs of the business (e.g. chasing crazy development deadlines to meet customer mod sets, or developing a product to use a specific manufacturing process in order to maximize business assets… like idle blow-molding machines, or seasonally-used rotomolding equipment).

In addition, more Industrial Designers are involved in product engineering than ever before; especially those of us who are dual-degreed. Where once CAD was limited to specialists, increasingly Industrial Designers must have the ability to use a full-fledged CAD application to even get a job interview. Yet that part of “design” isn’t being communicated on sites like design*sponge.
"

and

"When design is free from the restraints of manufacturing, the whole concept behind the creation of the profession falls into question. As “industrial” falls out, a new term should replace it."

Now if you can't comprehend what I'm saying - if you don't have enough imagination to think beyond the typical car rendering - there's not much I can do beyond wiping the snot off your nose.

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I think I'll agree to disagree, or better yet why don't you start a new thread with the topic "who thinks its a good idea to give away native files as deliverables to your client" as a poll and find out what the rest of the ID community has to say? Wait, that might expose how the industry actually doesn't give away native files as standard practice, hmm, on second thought you might not want to do that at the risk of looking, to put it nicely, ignorant.


If you'd bothered to read the Core thread, you'd have noticed two things: 1) the discussion concerned 2D deliverables/concept art, and 2) whether or not handing the 3D files used to create the 2D images made sense. I think everyone agrees that under those circumstances the 3D files are rightfully retained.

However, in that thread there's a couple of comments by CG (currently a design manager for a medical manufacturer and a former Motorola designer). Here's what he had to say:

"My vendor (a reputable, big-name firm) did 3D work for the purpose of 2D renderings only. Later on one of our ME's asked for the source files to ensure he constructed his engineering model as accurately as possible. The vendor was happy to hand over the files, and the benefit was that the design-intent was maintained--a win-win."

But in regards to CAD, he says this:

"Do what for free? Hand over files they paid you to create? ... That doesn't seem to translate to CAD."

I guess I should drop Chris an email and pass along to him what some 22-year old noob thinks is industry standard practice. He'll doubtlessly see the light when I pass him your Core portfolio link and he notices how you're a "Senior Designer".

#19 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 03:30 PM

why don't you start a new thread with the topic "who thinks its a good idea to give away native files as deliverables to your client" as a poll and find out what the rest of the ID community has to say? Wait, that might expose how the industry actually doesn't give away native files as standard practice, hmm, on second thought you might not want to do that at the risk of looking, to put it nicely, ignorant.

Actually, prior to your suggestion, I did post a new thread. It's on the LinkedIn professional network in the very large Industrial Design group under "Discussions". Here's a link - "The Sanctity of Native 3D CAD Files"

I'll assume your employer probably has a few people who are members of the group in case you aren't. Given that you seem to be speaking on behalf of Arato Design's methods, and given that one of the responses - the first - references this exchange, if you're not a member of the group you might want to read what's being said. To put it nicely, your activity here may not make your employer happy.

#20 vander

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 04:47 PM

well I have to say I grown quite fond of our little discussions on here, but god you sound worse than a nagging girlfriend.

Here is a perfect article which makes the argument for both sides. From someone with only two years of experience its apparent that I have been arguing on something which is of great contention from both points of view, and for you to be so offended that a designer with only "two years of experience" is able to do so is just sad.

http://www.core77.co...TML/002904.html

Although a good portion of the article relates to 2D work, there are also arguments regarding ID as well.

As I said I will agree to disagree.

Here I will even change the tone to a positive note. That YouTube video you posted was pretty cool, but you have to admit that the geometry they were dealing with couldn't be more basic. I would love to see how that handles complex geometry. That model didn't even have any filleting on it so it makes me wonder.

So what do you say? Will we agree to disagree or will we bicker back and forth endlessly like we have nothing better to do.

#21 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 07:40 PM

One designer:

From my own perspective if a customer wants native formats they can have them, at no extra charge. To me the CAD data is no different to a drawing or sketch - it is a by-product of the design process.


Another designer:

I've never heard of a situation where a designer is held liable after changes have been made to his/her files, and I'd be interested to hear if anyone has evidence that this is any more than scaremongering.


Another designer:

From a design consultancy perspective, the only reason I've ever seen someone hold onto native data is to hold out for payment from the client. Because once you hand over the full 3D data, you have very little leverage to insure you are paid promptly for your services. Now if a design firm or engineering consultancy has been paid in full on time yet refuses to hand over native data to a client, I'd consider that very suspicious behavior.

I'm batting a thousand with the professionals on LinkedIn. Today. Not 2003. And not a couple of pseudo-relevant comments posted on an anonymous forum.

A shame more people here aren't LinkedIn members. I noticed Paul Arato is a member. Maybe I should email him a link so he can provide his point of view.

#22 vander

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 06:14 AM

Yeah I saw all of the three replies to your post over on linked in . . . fascinating stuff

Perhaps you could ask them to answer this simple question. Why would anyone ever need native files unless their intention was to manipulate them?

What you and the other designers are simply doing is extending your clients a favor. Which is fine, that's your call, in some circumstances we have also given native files to trusted clients.

Now in reality a design firm gets new clients all the time and without knowing who it is you are working with why would you trust them with native files? There are things a design firm can do which are proprietary to the design firm, for example, when a design firm with over 40 years of specialized plastic design knowledge designs a new product, they are able to design products in materials in which many designers/engineers haven't even heard of, and then utilize that material to its full extent by knowing its inherent strengths and weaknesses, which in turn can save the client tons of money in post engineering costs and modifications. Also in that way the original design intent can be maintained without being muddled up by someone who doesn't know why certain features were designed a certain way to begin with. Its called competitive advantage.

Here's another example. If you design a plastic step ladder which has had to pass certain load bearing requirements complete with an FEA analysis and an engineering seal of approval, do you really want to be handing your clients native files to mess around with? I guarantee you that if the product fails in the market place for whatever reason and your client gets sued the first thing they are going to do is turn around and sue you, even if they were the ones responsible for the change.

Now here is the fun part: Try proving who modified the files when they have an virtually identical copy of your native files. A simple date stamp of when it was last modified isn't going to suffice, maybe the client simply did some renderings in Solidworks and saved an updated version? Can you prove without a doubt which features you created and which you didn't, after all they may simply claim you must have deleted the latest revision that they have when you caught wind of the lawsuit. As I see it its best to avoid possible scenarios where by you can be sued unless you enjoy spending your days in court and not getting paid. As I said this is where product liability insurance comes into play, it wouldn't exist if you never needed it.

The other reason reason you shouldn't give away native files to a client you hardly know, at the risk of being a little repetitive here, is because they are just as likely to turn around and farm out the rest of the design work to some foreign design firm for a fraction of the price which undermines your knowledge and reputation, so if they are so smart, let them figure it out for themselves. If you don't care and your only as skilled as the next guy then fine it your choice.

We recently complete a project for a client who has a whole team of engineers on staff who are running the latest CAD software and after we had completed the design the CEO of the company asked his engineering team if they could have designed the part we designed (which was intricate structural plastic component btw) to which they replied "No".

From a legal perspective you have no obligation to give native files to any client and because of the above mentioned its probably best not to, however feel free to make your own choice.

As a general a rule, when a design firm creates work on behalf of a client, unless otherwise stipulated, it owns the work it creates (and its five compensable rights). In providing creative work to the client, without an agreement in place, the firm is assumed to have licensed rights for that part or use of the work for which the client will pay. Transferable rights to another medium, the right to extract artwork and language for other purposes, the ownership of digital files by law, these all rest with the author.
Jaye Donaldson: President of Donaldson Makoski and the Chairman of the Association of Professional Design Firms



#23 KQD

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 10:27 AM

Yeah I saw all of the three replies to your post over on linked in . . . fascinating stuff
Perhaps you could ask them to answer this simple question. Why would anyone ever need native files unless their intention was to manipulate them?

What you and the other designers are simply doing is extending your clients a favor. Which is fine, that's your call, in some circumstances we have also given native files to trusted clients.


Vander as one of the designers who responded over at Linkedin I feel compelled to respond directly to you here. I am somewhat confused why you have such an issue over the handling of native files. I was the one who said the native file format is just another outcome from the design process. It is. Sometimes history teaches us some things.

When I started designing products back in the 80s we used magic markers and drawing boards. The outcomes were A1 drawing sheets. We supplied prints to the customer. In this respect ALL our outcomes were open and shared. Customers could reprint from the prints as needed, or at the very least recreate our content in their systems. As we moved into the digital age to start with many of use HAD to supply native formats to get the work simply because the translation to and from generic formats was, shall we say, troubled, at best. Indeed up until perhaps 5 or 6 years ago this was still the case.

I notice from your online portfolio that you are an automotive specialist? Are you not aware then that working in the automotive sector, the aerospace sector and others, that the native file format is a required contractual element in undertaking any design or development work (beyond simple skin deep aesthetics)? I have customers across the globe working for the likes of VAG group, Ford, Boeing, Airbus etc and they have all HAD to invest in CATIA to get the contracts. All data is in teh CATIA native format - handing over a generic file will not do.


Now in reality a design firm gets new clients all the time and without knowing who it is you are working with why would you trust them with native files? There are things a design firm can do which are proprietary to the design firm, for example, when a design firm with over 40 years of specialized plastic design knowledge designs a new product, they are able to design products in materials in which many designers/engineers haven't even heard of, and then utilize that material to its full extent by knowing its inherent strengths and weaknesses, which in turn can save the client tons of money in post engineering costs and modifications. Also in that way the original design intent can be maintained without being muddled up by someone who doesn't know why certain features were designed a certain way to begin with. Its called competitive advantage.


I'm not sure I follow this argument. If I called up Arato Designs tomorrow and said, I want you to design me a new plastic enclosure that does this this this and this, I would EXPECT you to offer me your full and unrestricted design expertise. Otherwise what is the point in coming to you? I would EXPECT you to provide my company with full details of the product outcome so that I could intergrate your offering into whatever my company was putting inside it, or around it. As a customer I REQUIRE the design comapny to provide me with a full and detailed analysis of the design process to justify the outcome to both my satisfaction and the regulatory bodies. To do this I NEED to see the process.

Here's another example. If you design a plastic step ladder which has had to pass certain load bearing requirements complete with an FEA analysis and an engineering seal of approval, do you really want to be handing your clients native files to mess around with? I guarantee you that if the product fails in the market place for whatever reason and your client gets sued the first thing they are going to do is turn around and sue you, even if they were the ones responsible for the change.

Now here is the fun part: Try proving who modified the files when they have an virtually identical copy of your native files. A simple date stamp of when it was last modified isn't going to suffice, maybe the client simply did some renderings in Solidworks and saved an updated version? Can you prove without a doubt which features you created and which you didn't, after all they may simply claim you must have deleted the latest revision that they have when you caught wind of the lawsuit. As I see it its best to avoid possible scenarios where by you can be sued unless you enjoy spending your days in court and not getting paid. As I said this is where product liability insurance comes into play, it wouldn't exist if you never needed it.


Sorry that is not a relevant example. Native file handling has nothing to do with the design process and engineering hand over. Your contractual arrangements will cover what you deliver and what evidence you provide that the design process follows any standard procedures. FEA is only valid if it is done by an experienced analyst and with relevant boundary conditions. If you have adequate internal procedures in place it is very simple to identify when a file was changed and who changed it, and what was changed. Most if not all MCAD systems offer PDM systems that cover this. How do you think large manufacturers handle things? Files just get handed over willy nilly? No, they are tracked by a database system so that issues can be tracked back to source. So in answer to your question, yes I can prove without doubt what I created and when. Again, taking the automotive companies as an example, as soon as data is released to an outsider, or even a different department, there are forms to be filled in, procedures to follow. I cannot simply "delete the latest revision"!

I am also a bit confused about your use of Product Liability Insurance? Here in the UK we use Professional Indemnity insurance. PI is used to protect the preofessional designer/engineer against claims by a customer. Product Liability insurance is used by the manufacturer of the product to protect them against claims by the end user. Speaking personally, I have clauses in my contracts that state the I am not liable for any product liability claims as soon as the customer has signed hand over documents or paid the bills due (and if they do not pay the bills I am not liable either). I know many other design companies that do this as well.


The other reason reason you shouldn't give away native files to a client you hardly know, at the risk of being a little repetitive here, is because they are just as likely to turn around and farm out the rest of the design work to some foreign design firm for a fraction of the price which undermines your knowledge and reputation, so if they are so smart, let them figure it out for themselves. If you don't care and your only as skilled as the next guy then fine it your choice.


So? If a company pays you for a service and you deliver what you were asked what right do you have to demand that they continue to work with you? I often get asked to contribute to projects at all stages. Sometimes at the start, sometimes halfway trhough. I do what I am asked to do and I deliver a good service. Customers have every right to cherry pick what they need. Quite frankly your attitude is typical of what I see in many designers who come into the profession with an attitude that the world owes them a favour. I suggest you go and get a job working in house at a small manufacturer and see just how smart some of these people are. They would wipe the floor of many so called designers in terms of skills and product knowledge. Many times companies come to designers becuase they know they can work with them as part of the team to help deliver the product. Or that a designer can offer a different strategic input into the project. I could never work with or employ a designer who has the attitude "I always know best". In my experience the customer IS usually right - certainly when it comes to technical issues.

We recently complete a project for a client who has a whole team of engineers on staff who are running the latest CAD software and after we had completed the design the CEO of the company asked his engineering team if they could have designed the part we designed (which was intricate structural plastic component btw) to which they replied "No".


And? That is what I would expect coming to a company that claims to be a specialist in plastic design! The customer in question should be congratulated for seeing that they had a skills shortage and brought in the required skillset to get the job done.

From a legal perspective you have no obligation to give native files to any client and because of the above mentioned its probably best not to, however feel free to make your own choice.


Well I bow to your expert legal experience, but as far as contractual arrangemets are, the contract that you agree between the designer and the customer is what defines what is and is not legal. That contract can include native file format delivery - and not only that - ownership of the native file format where a customer supplies you with confidential native format data. You never own the native format in that situation - they do. Ask your automotive friends.


As a general a rule, when a design firm creates work on behalf of a client, unless otherwise stipulated, it owns the work it creates (and its five compensable rights). In providing creative work to the client, without an agreement in place, the firm is assumed to have licensed rights for that part or use of the work for which the client will pay. Transferable rights to another medium, the right to extract artwork and language for other purposes, the ownership of digital files by law, these all rest with the author.
Jaye Donaldson: President of Donaldson Makoski and the Chairman of the Association of Professional Design Firms


The relevant phrase there is "without an agreement in place". Otherwise all you are talking about is copyright, and not IP.

No doubt you will feel the need to respond. Please do so, but don't expect me to. I'll be too busy sending my native Solidworks files to my customers :)

#24 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 05:15 PM

Perhaps you could ask them to answer this simple question. Why would anyone ever need native files unless their intention was to manipulate them?

I posted your entire comment to LinkedIn, so consider it done. Also noticed Paul Arato joined the group last night. I look forward to his participation in the discussion.

As a general a rule, when a design firm creates work on behalf of a client, unless otherwise stipulated, it owns the work it creates (and its five compensable rights). In providing creative work to the client, without an agreement in place, the firm is assumed to have licensed rights for that part or use of the work for which the client will pay. Transferable rights to another medium, the right to extract artwork and language for other purposes, the ownership of digital files – by law, these all rest with the author.
Jaye Donaldson: President of Donaldson Makoski and the Chairman of the Association of Professional Design Firms

This Donaldson Makoski: "Donaldson Makoski Inc. offers image communications and media designing services. The company's services include corporate and brand identity, positioning and design, product packaging, and marketing and corporate communications. Donaldson Makoski is based in Avon, Connecticut"? Doesn't sound like a law firm.

I don't suppose you could, in the future, provide links to stuff like this. After all, the fact that Jaye Donaldson might be a graphic designer and not an intellectual property attorney seems relevant.

However, Jaye Donaldson apparently has a LinkedIn profile as well which mentions her work with the "Donaldson Group" and Chairmanship of the Association of Professional Design Firms. Forgive me if I lack confidence in the legal expertise of a woman with a degree in "Communications, Marketing".

#25 vander

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 12:58 AM

For those of you following this thread my employer did feel compelled to respond to thread over on linked in and here is what he had to say:

When a client employs a designer on payroll or work for hire (paid by the hour or per diem) he is entitled to all the design work the designer produces during the time in which he's paid which can include native files.

However according to both the ACIDO and IDSA contracts if a client employs a designer or design firm to design a product in its entirety then he is only entitled to the specific design of the product which has been approved, but the process of how they came to that design remains the property of its author. Additionally in these contracts it makes clear that the client is not to modify the files and that in giving them CAD files it is understood that the design is not to be completed by others. Therefore typical deliverables of the design can include 3D renderings, powerpoints, E-Drawings, Bill of Materials, control drawings of parts and assemblies, as well as files to enable manufacturing of that product such as IGES, STEP, and STL.

The only two reasons a client might need native files are to enable him to claim authorship of the design or to alter the original files.

The native files therefore are imperative for the designer's documentation. Prior to creating designs in CAD, designers or engineering offices always kept the original velum, providing the client with one set of sepia, and two sets of blueprints, and this practice was never challenged by clients. In fact tool makers would have to create their own 3D files from the provided drawings to machine the tools. Clients now have the luxury of being provided with 3D models which they can take straight to a prototyper or manufacturer saving them this timely process and cost to the client.

This practice is supported by both professions of engineers and Industrial Designers and is spelled out in their standard contract forms.

Practicing designers who give out native files are doing so at their own discretion.

Paul Arato
President of Arato Designs and former president of ACIDO



#26 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 04:39 AM

And here are the following exchanges following the above:

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Very interesting comment Paul. I think in course of these discussions there are a couple of points that have been overlooked.

You said "design a product in its entirety". I can only speak for my own experience here but I cannot recall a project in the last 20 years where I have designed the entire product, provided all the manufacturing documentation without some input from a customer. Even the largest design consultancy businesses rarely do everything. Where do we draw the line if as a designer we are designing an enclosure for a new medical product say?

Are customers expected to not have access to native CAD data so they can retain it and use it for future modifications that may result from in service feedback several years down the line when a designer may not be needed, or if they grow and have internal resources?

I don't think the comparison to vellum or tracing paper really applies. Like many others I spent plenty of time in my early career tracing over parts until we discovered the joys of the large format photocopier! A native CAD file holds much more data than a drawing - especially if it contains analysis data or manufacturing data embedded into it. This is the primary reason why large automotive companies for example tend to standardise on a single CAD database file format such as CATIA.

So in this respect I think there are many more valid reasons why a customer might need the native format.

Perhaps all this demonstrates is that a standard contract is not really suitable today? I'm not a member of the IDSA, as I operate from the UK, but our contracts vary from job to job, customer to customer and native format CAD files do feature. In many cases, working collaboratively on large design projects requires that we agree to the customer's terms and not just our own - especially when we require native CAD data content from the customer in the first place for something that we need to build into our designs. Who owns what then?

As I said, we need a more flexible, more open approach.


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I agree with Kevin, this caveat is huge: "However according to both the ACIDO and IDSA contracts if a client employs a designer or design firm to design a product in its entirety then he is only entitled to the specific design of the product which has been approved, but the process of how they came to that design remains the property of its author".

Furthermore, what I find odd is that "the process" referred to here seems to be the building of a CAD model and not the thinking process which generated the design solution being documented in CAD. When people only had pencils, I can't imagine a designer being concerned a client would know how to use a pencil sharpener.

By the way, I'd be interested in reading the IDSA contract or hearing from a member who uses the contract.


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Gentlemen choose your contracts, its up to you what you want to give the client. But legally if your contracted to give the client a design and have not specifically agreed in the contract to give them the native files then they have no rights to them.

If more designers would join IDSA or ACIDO and use their contracts then they would know their legal rights.

To answer Sven and Kevin, please guys, if you want to give your native files to your clients by all means its your own perogative. Im simply stating that legally designers are not obliged to do so.


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@Paul who asserted: "If more designers would join IDSA or ACIDO and use their contracts then they would know their legal rights."

I wasn't aware merely having a generic copy of a professional organization's cookie-cutter contract conferred upon the user enlightenment in all things legal such that independently obtaining legal counsel and otherwise educating oneself on these matters was a waste of time and money.

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"But legally if your contracted to give the client a design and have not specifically agreed in the contract to give them the native files then they have no rights to them." ... "Im simply stating that legally designers are not obliged to do so."

You forgot to specify "if they design a product in its entirety" (per the contract you're referencing); which, I'd argue, is generally not the case for an industrial designer or an industrial design firm.

In truth, I'd venture an industrial designer who designs a "product in its entirety" (e.g. electronic product, appliance product, automotive product, medical product, industrial product, etc) is a rarity.

From my experience, industrial designers rarely design molds and fixtures and PC boards, or conduct failure analysis or fully comprehend CFD or FEA assumptions and conditions to the point they can be considered professionally competent in these matters. We're talking about a degree field which generally, from what I've read, doesn't require calculus, let alone differential equations, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, structural engineering, materials science, etc etc etc. Any industrial designer who believes a computer CAD application will bestow upon them engineering theory enlightenment is seriously under-estimating engineering studies and, I'd suggest, grossly over-estimating their own undergraduate education.

And this isn't just about whether or not designers are legally obliged to hand over native files if they are not contractually required and are, in fact, designing the "product in its entirety". This topic is an outgrowth of your employee's assertions that providing native files to paying clients was:

a) so uncommon as to be a consequence of designers being taken "for a ride"

b) ludicrous because the "only reason they [a client] would need them is if they are screwing you out making revisions to the designs"

c) unnecessary as "there is no need to give anyone native CAD files as they are proprietary to the designers or firm which create them" (under, presumably, all circumstances)

d) nonsensical because "if they [the devious client] wanted to they could simply use you as a graphic artist, take your styling concepts and pay someone else a lot less to model it in a CAD system"

e) counter-intuitive because 'by retaining native files you are [legally] protecting yourself by ensuring the design is developed exactly as you intend it"

f) dangerous because "ultimately you are liable, ... that [indemnity] clause [providing legal exemption from liability for damages] you refer to in your design contracts is little more than a deterrent"

Do you agree with all these assertions?


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No, I don't agree Sven.

But if that is your opinion and you want to supply the native files to the client, by allmeans, do so.

Those of us however, who with-hold the native files, believe that it is better for us and legally we are justified to do so.

I think we agree to disagree, without convincing one another. So good luck to us both.


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I'd venture we might actually agree, Paul, but to paraphrase Kevin, I cannot recall a project in the last 16 years where I or my fellow industrial design co-workers have designed the *entire* product - including providing all the manufacturing documentation - without some input from a customer or another involved party.

Thus, for both Kevin and me - and I'd venture probably most industrial designers - it's not a matter of what we want but in not fulfilling the necessary requirement of designing a product in its entirety.



#27 vander

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 04:07 PM

and for clarification here's what Paul also had to say

I guess I wasn't clear enough in my comment Sven, so you misunderstood it. I disagreed with your points of view and not those of Robert's.

I am speaking from a design office that has had the good fortune to develop and design a great many products in their entirety over the past forty years.

Good luck to you.



#28 Guest_csven_*

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 04:50 PM

And my response to Paul:

Paul, I can't imagine forty years of worrying whether or not a client was "screwing you out making revisions to the designs" or whether they were scheming to "pay someone else a lot less to model [my design] in a CAD system". Personally, I prefer relationships based on trust and mutual respect.

I suppose that's why your employee seemed surprised when I wrote: "I even teach my clients how to do tricky Pro/E geometry stuff". To me, CAD is primarily documentation. I don't have to worry if a client will screw me out of my design skills.

To each his own.

Good luck to you as well.


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Side Note: funny how Vander (Robert Vandenham) isn't a member of the Industrial Design group or even registered on LinkedIn but is posting comments from it. It's a little creepy.

#29 vander

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 05:15 PM

Better check your facts, I signed up days ago and I am a member of the Industrial Design group, how do you think I accessed those posts?

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 05:37 PM

Better check your facts, I signed up days ago and I am a member of the Industrial Design group, how do you think I accessed those posts?

I did a search when I wrote that post; both on LinkedIn and within the group (which has a "member search" capability). Apparently it hasn't added you to the database. And I assumed Paul was feeding them to you.

As you're a member, feel free to weigh in on the topic. After all, I'm quoting you and not Paul.




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