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Copyright of Engineering Drawings, Plans and Designs

Tracy P. Jong, Esq., Patent and Trademark Attorney
Cheng-Ning Jong, P.E., B.S., M.S., Registered Patent Agent

Course Outline

In this two-hour course, you will learn about the copyrightable aspects of engineering drawings, plans and designs. You will learn what you can and cannot copyright. You will learn why copyright protection is desirable, as well as how to go about doing it. And you will learn about the respective rights of the design engineer and the client in the work product.

This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for engineers, corporate management and private practice.

Benefit to Attendees

Attendee for this course will be learn about what you can and cannot copyright. You will learn why copyright protection is desirable, as well as how to go about doing it. And you will learn about the respective rights of the design engineer and the client in the work product.

Course Introduction

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Artistic works include poetry, novels, movies, songs, and computer software. Architecture is visual art that enjoys copyright protection. Copyright does not protect facts, discoveries, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Chapter 13 of the Copyright Law protects original designs of vessel hulls.

Other forms of intellectual property include patents and trademarks. Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguish them from those of others.

Architectural works became subject to copyright protection in 1990. The copyright law defines "architectural work" as "the design of a building embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings." The protection extends to the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in design. Protection does not extend to individual standard features or design elements that are functionally required like doors and windows.

Engineers regularly design useful articles and buildings. They reduce ideas into drawings and plans to give them concrete form. An engineer's professional and creative work product may be protected by copyright. Copyright may offer remedies in the event work product is misappropriated and may provide additional revenue streams for professional endeavors. Let's explore how copyright may be useful for engineers.

Course Content

In this lesson, you are required to download and study the following course content in PDF format:

Copyright of Engineering Drawings, Plans and Designs

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you still experience any difficulty in downloading or opening this file, you may need to close some applications or reboot your computer to free up some memory.

Course Summary

Copyright offers protection for the professional work product of engineers. By protecting these rights and creating intellectual property, an engineer will have recourse in the event of misappropriation or infringement. The engineer will also have a property asset that may produce additional revenue streams and add value in the business transaction providing for his services.

By providing for the rights of the respective parties in contracts for engineering services, misunderstandings and potential litigation can be avoided.



Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.