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I just read a post about the possibility of someone having some brackets cut, I think in regards to the Mark VII brake calipers. I have read another post about someone making a aod transmission bracket, and even the possibility of selling them.

And all that made me want to discuss an issue.

When it comes to the MarkVII brackets, its not the simple matter of paying for the "cost of parts". Some may see $90 as too much. And their thinking is that "hey, its just a couple of pieces of 1/4" stock (or whatever the thickness).

I would like to remind people that its not just the cost of the metal. Its also the time spent researching , developing , trying and retrying , and a host of other stuff to get those things to work. Aka, youre not just paying for "a piece of metal", you're paying for the expertise, experience, and the sweat and stress it took the "inventors" to get the product available.

Being a software developer, I think I'm in the industry that this gets most abused. "Its just a CD". No, its the time and effort someone took to develop code to make that product work, delivered to you via a CD.

So , when it comes to posts saying , "Hey, I took the windsor fox design and make my own brackets, and I'm thinking about selling them" (aka, reverse engineering), these kind of posts make me cringe.

When I read about people who are considering taking the ultrastang design (Steve and Glen) and making their own, and even worse, thinking about redistribution (I'm not sure I actually saw this, some posts aren't very clear), that whole concept makes me cringe.

I know people will always try to abuse the system, no matter what. All I can offer as advice to those, is the "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Do unto others AS they'd do unto you". What I mean, is that , if YOU were the person who created a design, and then made the product , and charged a modest price, at a very modest profit, would YOU want someone coming along later, and taking YOUR design that YOU spent your TIME, EFFORT, EXPERTISE, so on and so on, took that product, and then reverse engineered it, and then sold it as profit?

So ... the next time a thought of "Hmm, I could make that, if I knew how it was made", try to think about the person who took the time, effort, and resources to develop it. Its not just a "piece of metal", its a whole lotta other stuff you may not see behind the scenes.


This advice isn't just for people I don't know. Once, some friends and I went white water rafting, and one friend broke a oar. When we got back, my friend didn't want to pay for it. Because the sign said "You must pay for lost oars", and it didn't say "You must pay for broken oars". I ended up paying the guy, because you know what, if I ran a little business, like white water rafting, and someone broke one of the oars I need for my business, I'd probably want the breaker to pay for it. Aka, Love your Neighbor AS yourself. I finally guilted my friend into paying me back, but only after I totally went at him for being so stupid as to use the "the sign didn't say you have to pay for broken oars".

I'm not trying to "float my own boat", but want to convey that there are many areas of life where this guideline can kick in besides rear disc brake calipers.

..

Ok, the can is now open..

..
 

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Fellow Mustanger I know has been working to restomod his '66 convertible. One of the things he decided upon was to do a rear disc brake upgrade. He obtained Caddy Seville rear brake calipers and is mounting them on his stock 8" rear axle. To do this requires a metal plate. He got a template from another guy who did the same modification successfully. So far his adapter plates are not quite right. I've watched him work at this for some time now and all I can say is it probably isn't worth the effort. Much simpler to go with a ready-made kit from SSBC or Wilwood, etc. You may spend more but the agro is significantly less. Each trip to the machine shop for rework makes the higher initial price more attractive...
 

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I understand your point, but I would like to say, It`s not just some guy in his garage doing that. I work in a medium sized manufacturing plant. We are a 1st tier supplier to the large defense and aircraft manufacturers. we get squeezed more every year and read about the big bonuses and raises they get. They will markup a part 3-4X what they pay us for them and some of these designs are over 30-40 years old. We have our own division within our company that is responsible for reverse engineering parts. They are not allowed to view the drawings we use to make OEM parts.
 

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Hey Sloan, interesting post. I've been an engineer developing new products for 20 years now. I have to slightly disagree with you. Before a company decides to sink big bucks into R&D for a product, they look closely at the market, potential volumes, and how carefully they need to protect the product from duplication through copyrights/patents and legal expenses to defend that ownership. It would be very bad business judgement to spend big bucks developing a product only to find out that your primary market prefers to knock off your design in their garages (or CD burner as the case may be), and there's nothing preventing them from doing so. In the case of something like those MarkVII brackets, I'm guessing people who would prefer to weld up their own are far and few between in comparison to the primary markets for the product, so the manufacturer doesn't worry too much about it. In the case of, say, software, a company must factor in the cost of copyright protection and defense in their buisiness model. There are other ways to protect a product too, such as difficulty of reverse engineering, solid customer relations and brand name awareness, and high barriers to market entry, such as certification costs for aircraft products.

It's nice to think "Love thy neighbor ... " and "Do unto others ...", but unfortunaty these concepts aren't compatible with sound business sense.
 

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Welcome to the REAL world !
Guess you had better start putting your stang back to absolute stock , instead of CLONING someone elses ideas , huh ? :: ::
 

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Some random thoughts.

I agree with you that this is a problem. I work for a big software company whose software is pirated regularly. I also have sold my own software which has likely been pirated also.

On the other hand...

A manufacturer of an item needs to consider how easy it is for someone to duplicate their work. If it is easy, I think this is what patents and copyrights are for.

I would say though that enforcement of the above is difficult and costly to the point of making it impractical as a solution for smaller manufacturers.

There are manufacturers who do patent their work and then gouge the public because of their monopoly. Drug manufacturers come to mind. I realize some of these companies are trying to recoup years of investment to bring the product to market, but many people only see a greedy corporation.

If a manufacturer doesn't want to patent or copyright their efforts, then their only hope is to sell the item cheap enough where it is not worth the effort for someone to attempt to duplicate it. If these companies still attempt to gouge the public, then they get what they deserve.

I have no problem with reverse engineering something if that something is no longer manufactured. Using your MarkVII brackets example, are they currently being manufactured? If not then I don't have a problem with making them yourself and even selling them.
 

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Should be an interesting discussion - beats some of this "Dear Abby" stuff that's been posted lately! ::

One reverse-engineered / blatantly copied product that comes to mind is the "Professional Products" line of intake manifolds. Edelbrock has worked for years designing, testing, refining, and manufacturing the Performer RPM and Air Gap manifolds. Along comes a company that takes E-brock's products, and begins casting exact copies (less the mfr logo) overseas, using inferior metals, inferior machining, and $.25 a day labor. Then they sell it here for 75% of the "real thing" (and probably make MORE profit)...(Picture Here)
I really have a problem with supporting them... but you see them being sold EVERYWHERE anymore.

As far as brake and suspension products, I've been watching some of the "small companies" doing their own custom products. Frankly, some (not ALL) of it scares me just a little bit. Was the "designer" a degreed, professional engineer? What kind of liability insurance does the "company" carry? Seems like a HUGE risk building brake products, especially when you don't have control over the finished product, and are dealing with WIDELY varying installer skill levels. Yes, camachinist CAN/WILL do a competent installation job, and probably find & correct deficiencies, but what about a 15 y/o doing his very first brake work ever??? Seems like a HUGE potential liability... :eek:

Just my .02... From someone who has "bought" a few dead cows over the years (electric branding irons...DON'T cut the ground lug off!).
 

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I might as well get in on this. I have developed and patented some stuff for Restomods, and my opinion is this - if it is something simple to make at home, Mustangers will copy it.

EXAMPLE - I have a design for a special rotisserie. Now, if I took the rotisserie to the swap meets, guys would be looking at it and saying "heck, I can make that myself!" and would take my ideas home and build it themselves. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that and there is nothing you can really do about it either.

HOWEVER, when that guy uses my engineering time to make a profit for himself, that's when it gets serious, and that's where patents come into play folks. If you want to make it for your own car, have fun, if you plan on taking my market share, watch out.

The big problem is that if your design sells well, someone will copy it, period. Think of late model Caster Camber kit, short throw shifters and the like. Everyone makes one because they are profitable. As a designer, you have one of three choices:

1. Make it so complex that it is difficult to duplicate
2. Make the highest quality parts so people will choose yours over the cheap junk or homebuilts
3. Price it to where your competition would just assume buy it from you to resell rather than dump time into reverse engineering. This actually comes into play more than you think.

As a mfg. you really have to weigh all three against the specific product.

But for these guys copying designs for profit - they'd better watch out or they'll find themselves broke and in court some day.

Dave
P.S. - I recently saw that one of my competition nows sells a design that I published about a year ago in Mustang and Fords Magazine. If you don't protect yourself, they will burn you!!
 

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Hey if it wasn't for reverse engineering, we would all still be using Beta decks designed by, and built soley by Sony since they refused to share their patent and there was a huge burgoening market, a smart korean reversed engineered their product, made some simple mods to side step the patent police and delivered an inferior product that quickly eclipsed the original. ::
 

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Welcome to the REAL world !
Guess you had better start putting your stang back to absolute stock , instead of CLONING someone elses ideas , huh ? :: ::
what in the world does this mean? :: maybe my Sarcasto-Meter is on the fritz....a cheap Chinese copy of the original, no doubt ::
 

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Reverse engineering is simply a fact of life. Most evolutionary improvements on products have been done through reverse engineering from flint arrowheads to stinger missles.

Several years back a major car maker bought a copy of every inexpensive import being bought in the US, took them completely apart, picked and chose the best features and designs from everyone of them and put them into a new "import fighter" design to manufacture and market to the public. GM didn't exactly "design" the first Saturn. More like they "borrowed" it.

I defintely agree that people should be doing their own design and testing and not just copying someone elses design. But taking an existing design, refining it, simplifying it, making it more robust and cheaper...Hell that ain't against the law. If it was Henry Ford would have gotten the cell next to Al Capone on Alcatrez.

Phil
 

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I understand what your saying and it's never going to stop, but there are ways to slow down the process, I believe.
I have had a something similar happen to me.
I once worked for Evans Products Comapny and spent countless hrs Doing detail drawings for a do it your self manual.
Because the Company didn't copy write my work ( nor did I as I was employed to do this ) The drawings and all the details that were included were used by several other companies in there how to books , that was over 20 yrs ago and I still see some of my detailed drawings in do it your self books.
What a why to go, Huh?
 

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Interesting topic, Sloan and very thought-provoking responses.

First, let me say that I admire your basic ethics. I'll bet you point it out when the clerk gives you too much change, too. Those are great values - putting yourself in someone else's shoes is always a good thing to do.

Now, on the topic of knock offs, I'm not sure I totally agree with you. In a market economy, products are always copied. Think about the operating system most of us use, Windows. Bill Gates borrowed much of the features and functionality of Windows from Apple. And Apple borrowed it from Xerox. Unfair? Maybe, but without "borrowing" concepts from others, we'd pay a ton more for the products we buy and rarely see refinements and improvements.

Mustang stuff is also copied regularly. Take TCP products. Designs like their simple adjustable strut rods have been knocked off by several other vendors, including some who post here regularly. Is it unfair of the others to profit from TCP's design? Maybe, but bear in mind that TCP took Ford's basic design and upgraded it. They've made TONS of cash from their improved design based on Ford's original. Now TCP's competitors are doing the same thing (copying and refining), often for hundreds of dollars less than TCP charges.

IMO, copies are fundamental to market economies. If someone has a truly unique design for some product - they can always patent it. Otherwise, competitors are free to copy, improve, and sell for less.
 

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The problem with the Mark VII brackets is that they are not a patentable idea. They are a piece of straight stock that holds the calipers in place. The only "design" involved was in figuring out the measurements. The Brackets depend on using other producers products as well. It is simply not an inherently unique idea.

That said for those of us that don't have access to a metal fabrication shop, $100 is not so big of a number that a few people will still buy the product. From reading the Mustang Steve Forum it is clear that the brackets have been ordered in very small quantities (20 sets were ordered for resell to the public this last go-round).

But as an economist I would suggest to Ultrastang and company that they should seriously consider whether the demand curve for their product is elastic or inelastic. (Meaning is the precentage change in quantity demanded for a given percentage change in price greater or smaller than the price change). If it is inelastic then the current price is the "correct" one for generating at least a bit of profit. However, if the demand is elastic then they might well make a lot more TOTAL profit by lowering their price significantly. Just a suggestion.

John Harvey :D
 

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JS Harvey makes excellent points. I think an important factor in the caliper-bracket issue is the target market. Perhaps US and Glen have sold only so many brackets so far is that the buyer still has to get the calipers, lines, etc on his/her own, which leaves out some of the 'casual hobbyist' market. Many Mustang hobbyists wont touch the idea of an upgrade unless the ENTIRE upgrade is presented to them, complete to the last nut and bolt, in a box on their doorstep.

The more experienced hobbyist isnt intimidated by scrounging and appreciates the value of US/Glen bracketry for what it is, but thats a small part of the POTENTIAL market out there.

I think TCP and others who charge (to me, anyway) outrageous prices get by b/c they sell it complete (so they say, I have no direct experience). Enough folks will pay 1000% of what its worth if the hassle of finding the right parts is removed.

So, maybe Glen should sell the brackets, cleaned up calipers, some brakeline, and an instruction sheet in a box for $750 and clean up! ::
 

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Where do you think Hewlitt Packard came from? Xerox! Xerox R&D guys that reversed engineered designs to get around patents. It's all over the place.

"That's Life" Said Bill Gates as he walked away from Steve Jobs......
 

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Maybe I shoulda patented this idea !
A cheap & effective hood lock for 67-68s .
I'm sure no one would just go buy a lock and do the same thing ,RIGHT ??



http://home.comcast.net/~burgandycv/wsb/media/170132/site1088.JPG
 

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Apple bought the Palo Alto GUI from Xerox. They didn't "borrow" it.
Windows borrowed from Apple, but Windows looks precisely like Unix 'X windows' -- heck they even stole the name.
There is still an interesting lesson here.
Beta was (and still is) a much better machine/format than VHS. Super VHS is just not as good as the best Beta.
Sony kept the format proprietary and kept the machine licenses in-house. Apple still has a better machine and OS than Windows. Just judging from keystrokes/clicks required on my Office PC vs my Mac at home I save time with my Mac. But, the Mac OS is proprietary as is the machine.
Patent the stuff, copyright it and then license it.
That's how you win.
(writing from my work's laptop PC plugged into my Mac's screen using a network for both)
 
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