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Sharing files while Protecting IP

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Hi everyone.


I have a fair few collections of symbols for various building systems which I'm increasingly required to share with other designers.

As I have spent years developing up these systems and programming them in, they're very valuable to me.


At the moment, I'm deleting certain layers which include the high levels of detail, and then converting all the symbols to groups, and then purging the file, so although they have the info, dimensions, positions and so on, they won't be able to quickly rebuild the library that quick... even if they went to that effort, they wouldn't have the super fine detail nor the 2d detail from the hybrid symbols.

Another quick and dirty way is to exort as dxf and re-import, but I either lose layers or classes....


Trouble is, the files (because of the symbol explode and purge) sizes bloat and naturally they're much slower for the end user.

Does anyone know of a way they can share a file with some kind of read only protection, or perhaps a way of assigning permissions maybe attached to serial number or password maybe?


I'm sure you folks have different methods. Would love to hear. But also, would love to do a wishlist item for password protected files, perhaps with different passwords for different permission levels.


Thank everone

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What do you mean that you are being required to share them?


Does your sharing them reduce their value to you? Do you think they are so valuable that someone other than you would want to use them on a regular basis? Are they going to be able to take work away from you if they have your symbols?


If you really have such a complicated system that you have the detailed view on a different layer (rather than a different class) than the rest of the object, do you really think anyone is going to spend the time to figure out how to use your system?


Often, we find that things are valuable to us because they work the way we think. Very often, that is not how others think and so the value to others is low.


If you really think you will lose income by sharing these then you need to continue what you are doing. If they are really that valuable to you that they allow you to work faster or easier and risk someone else gaining some value from something you have done then you will need to keep doing what you are doing.


If you can accept that someone else may gain value from something you have done without paying for it, then just accept it and move one. Save the time you are currently spending trying to protect your "value" and put that time to other constructive use.  With more manufacturers providing electronic files of their products, what real benefit have over other things freely available?

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Thanks for the candid reply Pat. Very valid points all round.



it's the vectorworks file that needs to be shared... so everything..

Some of my clients have (at their own choice) bought VW and they like the 3d models so much, they want mine to lay their parts over the top.


Work flow is sometimes.

1) agency comes up with concept, assigns suppliers

2) I design the structure using my kit in the warehouse (which is modular and very versatile)

3) carpenters and fitters want the model to lay their walls into (but they don't need all the details of every nut, bolt, weld etc...)


if they got their hands on my details, although it's patented, they could manufacture their own version of my system and cut me out of the game. So I don't need it "in the wild" so to speak.


I'm happy with PDFs and 3d uploads, but the symbols I use have all the manufacture detail.

I've done a lot of structural calcs to end up with the profile sizes and it took a lot of work to create the hardware. I don't want anyone else manufacturing a copy of it.


So it's not just cad files, it's a whole hardware system, so is quite valuable to me.

I make things like this;



These will hold two dozen cars and 400+ people on, so I don't want anyone doing a "cheap" version and putting my business and people at risk


I appreciate the precious princess complex that some people have about their cad, but this is a little more than that (In my humble opinion)

would be nice to export a "read only" version...

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You have very good reason to want to protect your IP. This is not just a basic symbol, but rather actual manufacturable parts, not just symbols you have developed of "standard" items.


I had a similar problem for a client I worked for a few years ago. He made a line of injection molded swimming pool valves. Did up full high-res 3D models of the 17 valve model. Then he told me to put them up on his web site. I had to explain that he did not want that. The end users needed the externals of the valves to be accurate enough to drop them into their models, but they did not need any of the internal details. I had to go back and create a new version with all of the proprietary guts of each valve stripped out.


It sounds like you want to do something similar.  Let's think how we might be able to accomplish that most easily.


I  immediately have two thoughts. As I ponder this I might come up with more.


1. Can you segregate your symbols by class to the extent that the "carcass" that the installers are interested in could be in just one or a few classes with the "details" in other classes? If so, could you simple delete the "detail" classes (without moving the objects in them to another class)?  I just tried this and this will remove the objects from the symbol definitions as well. It would be relatively simple to duplicate your file, delete the appropriate classes, probably add a proprietary notice, save and send the file. You would then have the original to go back to as changes are required.


2. Create two versions of every symbol.  One that contains all of the detail necessary for you and a second one with correct external dimensions (and internal where necessary) but with all of the manufacturing information stripped out. With the proper naming scheme (and identical insertion points) we can probably develop a script that would run through the file and replace the high-def versions with the low-def and then purge the file to create one that can be shared.


Do either of these sound feasible to you?

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The whole thing grew on it's own if I'm being totally honest.


a 3D column and beam arrangement to create a drag and drop frame easily made the initial system.


then hybrids to make bright coloured plans the chaps on site, in the rain could follow.

blue beam here, red beam there, each colour depicting a different part.


then it went into level of detail classes so that viewports drew quicker. So I could have high detail when needed but lower LOD when millions of components are on show 


running two types of symbols is feasible but when I need to fabricate a special part it's nice to have every detail to hand at the flick of a switch.


i guess you're in the US? Perhaps a Skype show and tell might give you a good idea. I'm uk based. 


i raise it now, as I have a couple of very keen vultures waiting for me to give away the secret sauce. So it's pressing for me to have a water tight workflow.


ill PM you a Dropbox link to give you an idea of where I'm at.

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