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Are You Leaving the Vault Door Open?

“Technical rights management” sounds like something that would be primarily of interest to lawyers, as does “Intellectual property rights.” Put those terms aside for a moment and ask yourself this question: If you had piles of cash and jewelry and gems and placed it in a vault, would you leave the vault door open?Essentially, that’s what occurs when many companies send CAD files to prospective suppliers.

“Technical rights management” sounds like something that would be primarily of interest to lawyers, as does “Intellectual property rights.” Put those terms aside for a moment and ask yourself this question: If you had piles of cash and jewelry and gems and placed it in a vault, would you leave the vault door open?

Essentially, that’s what occurs when many companies send CAD files to prospective suppliers. There may be some boiler plate warnings supplied by the legal team, but that’s not unlike those warning tags affixed to pillows and mattresses. According to Michael Staley, director of Marketing for Pinion Software (www.pinionsoftware.com; Austin, TX), there are some other alternatives, like using Microsoft’s Rights Management Services or putting the file into a format like one from Adobe. Often, he says, people do nothing. In effect, the valuable data is just out there.

Or there is another alternative that is re-markably simple, which (not surprisingly) Pinion offers. What’s interesting about this is that it:

  • Operates on a PC; no server required (in tech parlance, it is a “peer-to-peer” system)
  • Allows working within native appli-cations and supports native file formats (e.g., Autodesk, PTC, SolidWorks)
    The product lineup is called “SecureShare.”

Say you have a CAD file of a new product that you want to have manufactured by a vendor, say, in the Far East. You will send it as an email attachment with your Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes application. Essentially, you then activate your SecureShare Desktop, which, in effect, wraps a protective package around the file. It also permits you to set such things as:

  • How long a user can work with the file before it self-destructs (as effectively as one of those messages in Mission: Impossible, though less dramatically)
  • Whether the recipient can print the content

It goes to the user who has downloaded the free SecureShare Receiver, which permits the file to be opened and the image to be manipulated with the native application (e.g., rotated, sliced, measured, etc.). But the thing is, the file cannot be copied. According to Stanley, not only does this mean that someone can’t download it or burn it to a disk, but even if there is software that permits screen grabs on the recipients computer, it won’t work with the file, either. In addition, the file can’t be forwarded to someone else. And when the time is up: Poof! It is gone. (Think if you send a file out for bid. When the clock stops, the file is no longer available.)

Given the concerns in the auto industry with counterfeiting and theft of designs, why this software isn’t on every computer used by those who send files out for bid (it is not just limited to CAD files, by the way) is a mystery.—GSV