Friday 2 December 2011

Consumable IP

Some OEMs derive a significant proportion of their profits from the sale of consumables (a recent article in The Times recalled the 2002 assertion by the Consumers Association that the ink in Hewlett-Packard’s printers “was more expensive, per millilitre, than Dom Perignon champagne”). Others make no attempt to prevent aftermarket suppliers, instead making their profit on the sale of original equipment.

Now there would appear to be a third way: in the field of aircraft brakes, Nasco has announced an “innovative alternative” approach to providing [corporate] customers with new brake designs involving a fixed-price design, development and production contract that includes re-procurement data rights. Such data are believed to include manufacturing drawings and material specifications.

According to Nasco’s website, “customers pay the development costs up front but reap the long-term benefits of lower cost spare parts through competitive sourcing.” Contrast this with the use of trade secrets in manufacturing drawings and material specifications to exclude competitors as previously reported here.

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