CAD/CAM Dilemma : Who Owns This Design

I suppose I should thank my father for encouraging my curiosity about technology. In the 60’s, he was the type of jeweler who would buy almost anything at a trade show if it had an electrical cord attached. 

In the 80’s I worked with some wonderful people at ASC designing software for jewelers and cutting my teeth on what was then a “high tech” PC computer. The job taught me a lot about working with computers and confidential data and although computer use by jewelers has expanded significantly, I keep in mind those early lessons about data management

 

Over the past 10 years I have been using CAD/CAM technology for medical instrumentation, aerospace and fine jewelry applications. In that time, I have grown nearly 30,000 wax patterns for my clients while keeping everything confidential. What I have found over time, which is most curious to me, is just how many of jewelry designs fly around cyberspace without any declarations or copyright protection in place. A jewelry design deserves the same protections that can be afforded a medical device or aerospace part, and yet in my experience very few jewelers require a clear declaration or working agreement in advance.

 

The process usually starts when a jeweler sends a design sketch or technical drawing to a CAD programmer who will then define a 3D data file. This data file is then translated to another type of data file and sent to a machine to print or carve the wax pattern for casting. The jeweler then casts the pattern in a precious metal, polishes, completes the setting, and closes the sale but….. “Wait and Minute” “Wait and Minute” …..What about the data….? Whose data is it….? Can the CAD programmer use it or parts of it again for another client…? What about the guy who made the wax pattern….Can he print it again or part of again for someone else….?

 

What I hope to accomplish through JCKOnline is to provide a forum where jewelers can learn and share their ideas about any technology. In the coming days, I have some great tips for you on what to look for in CAD/CAM and about technology in general. For today, I welcome your comments on how you think a jeweler should establish working relationships in the digital age while protecting designs and copyrights.