How to Protect Your CAD Files from Copyright and Intellectual Property Infringement

A user implements CAD data protection strategies, including copyright and enhanced security.

Picture this: You put an extraordinary amount of work in to have the most innovative team and the most up-to-date technology, only to have your CAD data stolen and used by your competitors. How do you prevent this from happening? Here are our top CAD data protection strategies to ensure that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement is a serious threat to any intellectual property, including CAD data. When you and your team work hard to create a proprietary concept, you’ll want to do everything in your power to avoid competitors stealing your framework. Copyright infringement happens when your work is distributed, recreated, publicly displayed, or otherwise, without the knowledge or approval of the copyright owner. When it comes to leveraging copyright law to your benefit, there are some things to note.  

Copyright law goes into effect once a work is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” In other words, once your idea is written down in a form that others can see or hear, it is protected by copyright law. However, it’s always a good idea to take extra steps to achieve effective data protection. 

We strongly recommend that you always give proper notice in the form of the copyright symbol (©). This shows an external audience that the given information is proprietary to your company and cannot be used elsewhere. It is also wise to register your CAD data for copyright protection. Although having everything in a fixed, tangible form protects you to a certain extent, registering for copyright adds an extra layer of security in the case that you find traces of infringement. We’ll dive deeper into this process shortly.

CAD files can hold an extensive range of information outside of traditional 2D and 3D designs. The need for data protection reaches beyond just CAD files – though this is a crucial piece. With even the most mundane email, there is sensitive information at risk of being shared. With this sensitive information comes a responsibility to protect it from an external audience.

All industries require some form of protection for their sensitive information. A police officer must protect video files like their body cam footage. Not only can this footage contain sensitive or personal information, it becomes legal content in a court of law and hackers can steal the file and use it for a propaganda campaign. Similar to the sensitivity of body cam footage, doctors of all practices carry highly personal information – sometimes just on a notepad or smartphone. Though informal, this data must be kept confidential at the very least to abide by HIPAA laws.  

Why should you and your team suddenly start taking these extra data security precautions? When attacked by doxware, a new form of ransomware, the hacker threatens to leak your sensitive and personal data if a ransom is not paid. Doxware can destroy not only your confidential information but your businesses reputation and credibility. 

What Are the Best CAD Data Protection Strategies?

1. Proper Government Filings

As previously stated, copyright law protects your work as soon as it is in a fixed, tangible form. However, it’s always safest to register for copyright through the U.S. Copyright Office for guaranteed data protection. In taking the appropriate steps to copyright your work, you are preventing others from: 

  • Reproducing your work
  • Displaying copyrighted works
  • Produce derivative works 
  • Profiting from or distributing your work

There are many things protected by copyright law, most relevant for us include computer programs or software and elements of a machine or invention such as those you would see in the manufacturing sector.  Copyrighted material is protected for the life of the owner, plus 70 years. So, not only does proper copyright registration protect your data for great lengths of time, it gives you ample legal leverage in an infringement circumstance.  With proper data protection documentation, you can issue a formal copyright infringement notice to deter further action or sue the person or company infringing upon your protected information. 

2. Watermarking

Watermarking your files is an effective data protection strategy. To watermark your documents is to add a logo or bit of text layered on top of your content. The watermark then becomes part of your proprietary document, making it very difficult to share without giving proper credit to the owner. 

Though typically seen as a logo, a watermark can also be a status indicator such as “void” or “draft.” This added layer of data protection can prevent users from being able to access even outdated information from your company. Especially in a world now so reliant on remote working and digital file sharing, extra measures to protect your data are no longer an addition but a requirement.

3. Encryption

Though we’re all in the habit of setting up strong, varying passwords, it’s important to note that passwords alone are not enough. In addition to good password practices, encryption is an essential CAD data protection tool. 

Passwords simply put a wall in front of your data. Encryption takes your data, scrambles it up and puts it back together, making it effectively indecipherable – unless you know how to decrypt (or unscramble) it. While encrypted data is now technically a different, scrambled version of this copyrighted information, it’s important to note that copyright law does protect encrypted versions of files assuming the owner was the one that encrypted it. 

Some forms of encryption also can provide NIST 800-level protection should your organization be looking for a CMMC solution that may also reduce cyber insurance premiums and risk of class action lawsuit penalties in some states.

These tools for CAD data protection are crucial in any business but are not impenetrable to hackers and copyright infringers. The best way to defend your data is to anchor it securely with the help of Datanchor. Interested in learning more about what data protection strategies Datanchor can provide for you? Let us walk you through the platform today!

 

 

Find out how your company can use crypto-technology that allows security to travel with the data versus within the confines of our network.

With Datanchor, users can collaborate and share sensitive files anywhere, without an organization sacrificing control of their data security. Contact us to see how.