A fast growing startup in the Netherlands, CADChain, is using blockchain to tackle the tricky issues of enforcing Intellectual Property (IP) in CAD models and breakdowns in supply chain. At first glance, the two projects might seem very different, but both were sparked by fraught nature of recording IP on technical drawings.
The CADChain project uses blockchain to circumvent the largely outdated method of recording IP – not by saving a hashfile but by recording the IP directly on the model itself.
As co-founder and CEO of the CADChain project, Violetta Shishkina explains:
“Traditional forms of securing IP can be considered the same as putting many locks on the front door of a house to stop intruders entering and stealing the contents. However, no matter how many locks are attached to the front door, what good is that if the backdoor is open?
“Our proprietary software solution operates to secure the content in the house – people can wander in and look around, but they cannot remove anything.”
Patenting models is traditionally very difficult, especially when one considers the different jurisdictional laws across the world. Interestingly, should a designer share IP anywhere in the world but not specifically in China, Chinese law allows Chinese designers to copy that IP and legally replicate it. The concept of counterfeit globally is not recognised in China and conversely should a designer wish to invoke IP in China the hurdles are monumental, through a combination of having to conduct the business in Mandarin and being forced to use Chinese lawyers and courts.
Previously, when IP patents were attached to hash files on the blockchain it only took a change to the extension of the file to render the original patent obsolete – and there are a myriad of extensions that can be used.
“We protect the model inside the file, inside the box, we don’t care about the external housing,” says Violetta.
By attaching patents internally the technology is also solving another issue of IP when supply chain breaks down.
During the recent pandemic, hospitals in Northern Italy struggled to find parts for their ventilators. The original source for these parts was in China, but the factory was unable to export during the lockdown and border closures. In desperation, local Italian designers reverse-engineered the parts and re-created them on 3D printing machines, saving many lives in the process. However, this life saving action resulted in both IP violation and loss of revenue to the original manufacturer.
CADChain decided to partner with 3D printing startup Fabblink to address this corresponding supply case breakdown and loss of IP revenue and registration.
“If the IP had been attached to the actual part or indeed the CAD design behind it, then IP payments could have been automatically remitted to the original manufacturer in the case of supply chain failure. Using strong legal smart contracts embedded in the part there would have been no confusion, law breaking or loss of revenue.”
Violetta formed the company in the Netherlands two years ago. It has received support and funding from the Netherlands Government for performing feasibility studies.
Violetta chose to work with Europechain as Europechain supports them with the issue of using the blockchain in full legal compliance with GDPR.
“We were already convinced that EOSIO is the best blockchain protocol and Europechain just brings that to the next level.” says Violetta.
Rhett Oudkerk Pool, CEO of Europechain says: “We are very happy that CADChain choose Europechain for their innovative project that will revolutionise the engineering market. The CADChain legal team was the second successful audit of our GDPR approach.”