Embedded Systems Engineering
I have to give the usual disclaimer that that these are my own personal views and not those of the ESE Editor and publisher. or those of my employer at the time..... I now work for Phaedrus Systems Ltd!
There is a 75% cut down version for print in ESE. The full one is on my web site at www.phaedsys.com Which you are now reading.
I have proof that at least two people read this column! One person emailed me regarding software patents, which is something, I have been warned about before but before I go there I have to correct some points first, I had another e-maiI pointing out some errors at the end of last month's column. So it is just as well that, as usual, these are my own views.<
The other email was from Chris Simpson, the Registrar for the International Register of Professional Engineers at the Engineering Council UK. www.engc.org.uk
It appears I got the list of the 7 countries in the Washington Accord wrong… Singapore is not one of them. Neither is it in the other Accords. Sorry if that causes any ones travel plans to change! Hong Kong is in the Accord though.
The Washington Accord has 8 members (Australia, Canada, Hong-Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and USA);
The Sydney Accord (IEng level) has 7 members - as for the Washington Accord without USA involvement; Note that Incorporated. Eng is the level below C.Eng.
The Dublin Accord has 4 members (Canada, Ireland, South Africa, UK).
The Engineers Mobility Forum (which holds the International Register of Professional Engineers) has 11 full members: all 8 Washington Accord countries, plus Korea, Japan and Malaysia. As the USA is in this I assume that it is South Korea!
For a full explanation of these groups see the Engineering Council UK web site www.engc.org.uk
Chris Simpson also pointed out that there is no formal requirement to register as a PE in the USA to be able to work as an engineer. Where there is direct contact with the public, this is a legal requirement. As the 20% registration of working engineers as PEs shows, most engineers do not seek this licensing. As long as there is a PE to sign off, the legal requirement is satisfied. This is the same as in the UK and various other countries where C.Eng (or equivalent) is required in some industries.
Chris Simpson speaks for the Engineering Council UK (ECUK) who set the registration standards, provides advice on registration matters, registers professional engineers and technicians for the three legally protected titles that they hold (CEng, IEng and EngTech), and is the signatory to the agreements and accords above.
For regular information about ECUK visit http://www.engc.org.uk/register_news/
On to the other email I had: This was from Gordon who was concerned about Software Patents. There is a difference between copyright, patents and design registration. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or legally qualified. You should follow up the sources and research this yourself (as was said to as Tabloid Editor recently).
Gordon said " There appears to be very little in the press about the Software Patent problem and I am sure it will affect you! There is a meeting of the Council of Ministers this month [May 2004] to decide if we go the USA route, I hope you are a "NO" to this and have written to your MP/MEP about your concerns?" Well… I hadn't given it much though. Should I?
I recall being told about software patents by one of the academics at Cambridge a year or two ago. He was "unhappy" about the US system, which is what now appears to be happening in Europe (and in this context the UK is part of Europe). His concern was that American business could patent almost anything and the US Patent Office issued the patent first and looked at it afterwards. In Europe they check first and then issued the patent. So, my understanding of it is: in the US you get the patent and they wait for challenges in the UK they look first to see that it is unique then issue. Obviously the UK system takes longer.
His concern was that it disadvantaged European companies taking things to the US to discover there was a recent US Patent on things that they had been making for years in Europe that were not patentable here. So it could be seen that this is a levelling of the playing field. Well, possibly, "yes" if you are a "big business". However the anti patents groups claim that Software patents could have disastrous affects for many small developers and businesses in this country and Europe! In fact in the US the only company to support software patents was Microsoft. They are also, as I understand it, the main supporter in the European lobbying for Patents. It all gets very convoluted so I have stolen the following summary from their web site: http://swpat.ffii.org/index.en.html
This is the short over view. I recommend that you read the rest of it at http://swpat.ffii.org/index.en.html The site is produced by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure. This is a pan European organisation with many of its main members in Germany. .
The difference (as far as I can see) between copyright and patent is the copyright is for a piece of work: a poem, a letter, a painting (or prints thereof) a book or of course software. Who owns the copyright? That is a good one… See below
The problem is that at the moment whilst your source is copyright the idea itself may not be as you can't copyright ideas. It has been suggested to me that if a "Word Processor Program" had been patented only the patent holder could produce it. At the moment if you and I both write a word processor, as long as we don't copy each others (copyright) code, we can. However if I have the Word Processor Patent you can't produce a Word Processor. You can see why some large companies want software patents. It is expensive and time consuming to do a patent.
The Official launch of MISRA-C2 will be at the Embedded Systems Show 13th October at the NEC at 15:00 to 16:00. (See http://www.embedded.co.uk ) This will be in the FREE part of the conference in the forum on the exhibition floor. Phaedrus Systems Ltd, and hopefully LDRA and Programming Research will have copies for sale on the day. The following week will be the MISRA Forum run by MIRA. This will be held in Coventry as usual. I am running an unofficial and un-approved page www.misra-c.org where I will bu putting up information and relevant links.
Any questions, comments etc to Contact at Phaedsys
I stole these definitions from a document and web site both of which are probably copyright! The links are with the definitions. I am NOT a lawyer or legally trained. This is purely my unqualified opinion. You should obtain the authoritative information from the http://www.patent.gov.uk/: suitable patents lawyers etc as appropriate. I took this information from various documents from the Patents Office and their web site. Probably breaking copyright in the process! However, I feel justified if it gets a few more people to look at the information and saves problems for them in the future.
"As far as I can tell" the following are the definitions.
Copyright is exactly that the right of ownership of the "copy" or text. This is before photographs. Newspapers still refer to "copy" The following is stolen from the copyright introduction at http://www.patent.gov.uk/copy/index.htm which is the copyright section at the UK Patents Office.
This was taken from http://www.patent.gov.uk/copy/index.htm Note the highlighted headings: Instruction Manuals, Computer Programs, Technical Drawings, Diagrams.
This is not a special case the author of the work is the owner… So if you employ a contractor to write your software he owns it! Just like the wedding photographer owns the picture he took at your wedding and the author the text of the book you own. Therefore if you are using contractors to write software for you: you should get them to sign over the ownership of the source code.
Eur Ing Chris Hills BSc CEng MIET MBCS MIEEE FRGS FRSA is a Technical Specialist and can be reached at This Contact
Copyright Chris A Hills 2003 -2008
The right of Chris A Hills to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988