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Thread: CAD drawings - owner?

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    CAD drawings - owner?

    Hi Guys,

    I've been having some issues with a client, we do their work non-contract and was wondering who would be the owner of the CAD files? When the client requests drawings we send out our pdfs but now they are asking for our CAD drawings which we do not want to give out. Whos property are the CAD drawings?

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow Kelly Bramble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Bold Springs, GA
    No contract? Hummm....

    With no agreement in place regarding the ownership of CAD files and they are paying you, I think I would cooperate and hand over the CAD files...

    Oh course if your the only CAD design services organization in the world you could ask for more money to deliver the CAD files....
    Last edited by Kelly Bramble; 03-08-2013 at 01:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Chief Engineeer jboggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Ah yes - how we all learn the little lessons along the way. Bottom line: if the question was not resolved in the original agreement it is not resolved. You can look around and you will find numerous examples on both sides of this question.

    So, now the question becomes based on your relationship with your client, and your perceived options. The resolution will involve two different things: past work, and future work. And they could be handled differently. I work for a company that does a lot of business with outside design houses. It absolutely amazes me how often project engineers forget to even address this question up front - and then always becomes an issue. We are trying to establish a standard but...

    Some of our suppliers stand absolutely firm - no CAD files of any kind ever, period. Some give us everything with their delivery. Some give us only what we ask for and only when we ask for it. Some give us assembly drawings in CAD for our layout purposes, but no detail drawings.

    You have a lot of options, but continuing on without addressing this question in the future should not be among them. You could give them all past work. You could give them only what they ask for. You could inform them there is an extra fee for this. You could give them assembly drawings only. You could say sorry, no CAD files of any past work.

    I suggest you try to find out exactly why they want the CAD files. What do they intend to do with them. Will they agree to try to protect your interests and your work product as a valued supplier? Do they just want them for their layout work or as part of their larger assemblies? Or do they want to try to do some of the work themselves in the future and base it on your work. Or are they just trying to protect their own designs and intellectual property by not having it outside their building?

    I could go on, but that's enough. Sorry if I have clouded up the issue for you, but its not always a simple question.

  4. #4
    Technical Fellow
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Ummm, PDF files are Vector files and can be converted to DXF files. They already have the CAD drawings for all intents and purposes.

    If push comes to shove and they talk to a Lawyer and the drawings are for their explicit products, then they would have the greater claim to them. If they are for something generic like a standard school room desk, then it gets gray.

    But if you want more work from them, I'd be handing them over.

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