Reverse Engineering Expert Witnesses Part 1

The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics, answers the question, What stages are involved in the reverse engineering process?

Answer: Since the reverse engineering process can be time-consuming and expensive, reverse engineers generally consider whether the financial risk of such an endeavor is preferable to purchasing or licensing the information from the original manufacturer, if possible.

In order to reverse engineer a product or component of a system, engineers and researchers generally follow the following four-stage process:

* Identifying the product or component which will be reverse engineered * Observing or disassembling the information documenting how the original product works * Implementing the technical data generated by reverse engineering in a replica or modified version of the original * Creating a new product (and, perhaps, introducing it into the market)

In the first stage in the process, sometimes called “prescreening,” reverse engineers determine the candidate product for their project. Potential candidates for such a project include singular items, parts, components, units, subassemblies, some of which may contain many smaller parts sold as a single entity.

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