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Is PCB copy service an infringement?

PCB sheet reading belongs to the category of PCB copy service. This topic has been debated extensively. The reverse engineering approach plays a significant role in the development of the integrated circuit industry. Manufacturers around the world use this method to understand the development of other people’s products. If this behavior is strictly prohibited, it will affect the progress of integrated circuit technology. Therefore, each country considers this as an exception to tort under certain conditions when legislating:

To teach, analyze, and evaluate concepts in circuit layout design. The circuit, logical structure and electronic component configurations used in the technical or layout design are replicated, on which the results of analysis and evaluation are applied to the original layout design. The manufacture of integrated circuits on this basis shall not be deemed infringement. However, the production of integrated circuits by simply copying other people’s protected layout designs for the purpose of operating and selling shall be deemed an infringement.

In January 2007, the Supreme People’s Court of China promulgated “Explanation of Several Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Civil Cases of Unfair Competition”. It stipulated that business secrets obtained through self-development or PCB copy service shall not be deemed as acts of infringement of business secrets stipulated in the relevant provisions of the Law against Unfair Competition.

The judicial interpretation also stipulates that PCB copy service refers to the technical information about a product obtained through technical means such as disassembly, surveying and mapping, analysis, etc. from an open channel. If a party concerned, after having obtained the business secrets of another person by improper means, takes reverse engineering as his claim to obtain legal acts, he shall not support it.

The judicial interpretation was formally implemented on February 1, 2007.

Many formal PCB copy service units have clear regulations. Customers who reverse engineer in the company must have a legal source statement of design copyright. To protect the legitimate rights and interests of the copyright owner of the original design. Customers are required to promise that the reverse results are mainly used for legitimate purposes such as teaching, analysis and technical research.

At the same time, reverse engineering is committed to the secondary development of the original product design ideas. Through circuit principle analysis and data extraction, new design concepts and function modules are added to the product design to quickly upgrade and update the innovation on the basis of the original products, and to help the overall competitiveness of the electronics industry.


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