How often do you hear about intellectual property lawsuits when it comes to structural engineering?
The first time I heard of a patented connection, I was confused. How many ways could you attached a beam to a column? Surely all possible ways of bolting and welding had been realized by now. But then a few years ago, SidePlate came to our office to present their patented connection, and its benefits towards mitigating progressive collapse. There were applications for this system in some of the work we were doing. After many technical questions, someone in our office asked the presenter, “what kept an engineer from detailing a connection that looked like their SidePlate on their drawings,” and we were explained something about licensing requirements. It sounded trivial at the time, but obviously intellectual property was a big deal to SidePlate, as it is in all industries.
So, I was interested to read that Seismic Structural Design Associates settled a federal patent infringement suit for an undisclosed amount with WHL Consulting Engineers, over unlicensed use of SSDA’s seismic SlottedWeb field-welded connection for structural steel.
Where else have you seen intellectual property related issues come up related to structural engineering?