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PCB | April 18, 2008

Do blueprints belong to the customers or the PCB-manufacturers?

In the light of recent events we raised the question, whether blueprints for PCB design should be returned to the customer or stay with the PCB provider.
Do customers have the right to have their design blueprints returned, if they want to change to a new distributor? Yes, if it comes to the PCB providers that evertiq contacted about this question.

We have a recent example for our discussion. It shows how far things can go, but is it a single incident or do we look at a common place? In this particular case, a customer asked to have his design blueprints returned to him. However, the PCB provider refused to return them; unless the company agreed to buy the PCBs just from the company.

And how does the industry handle this subject? Who owns the blue prints? Maybe there is a difference when PCB blueprints have already been run at the CAM department, but how does the industry actually handle this matter? How should such decisions be made?

This in itself, according to information to evertiq, is not something unusual. PCB distributors, who have tested the producibility of a product and run it at the CAM department, often believe that the documents belong to them. Most have worked hard for a new product and have put a lot of effort into the material too.

You have those who believe that the customer should have their blueprints back, even if the new PCBs have been adapted to the production. And then you have those who want to keep the blueprints, as they have been improved and therefore do not belong to the customer anymore.

What do you think?

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