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Only Connect: Copyright in manufacturing

Welcome to another post in the series by Nick Locke, of Nicab Ltd, who has over 15 years experience in the electronics manufacturing industry specialising in interconnection cable assembly.

Shocking news came in last week that HDMI.org the group responsible for keeping the HDMI Specifications in check, have declared that the Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable to be unlicensed and that ALL UNITS must be withdrawn.

This report was carried by SlashGear – see HDMI to Mini DisplayPort Cables Declared Illegal (via TechRadar) – but I have been unable to confirm it. I did contact HDMI.org but have not received any replies yet, so I can’t independently validate this as all being true.


In the SlashGear article, HDMI.org are quoted: “The HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on the ends. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed. All HDMI products undergo compliance testing as defined by the Compliance Testing Specification. The CTS clearly defines necessary tests for all products defined in the HDMI Specification. Since this new cable product is undefined in the Specification, there are no tests associated with this product. It cannot be tested against the Specification.”

If true, this is one of the biggest industry enforcements I have heard of in recent years and will have major implications to major manufactures like Toshiba and Apple who use the DisplayPort.

I have spoken to people in the industry who currently sell generic versions of the cable and they had not heard of this issue and quite rightly went into panic mode since they have been selling the cables for sometime.

I find all this quite confusing since there is a plethora of HDMI-to-something-else cables and why they choose to pick on this one is very strange. This story will continue to unravel and we will try to get to the bottom of this and find out what impact this will have on the market.

As I write this I can sense engineers all over the world rushing back to their desks to design out any HDMI interfaces. This could inadvertently be the beginning of the end of HDMI because if people have any doubts about something then generally people won’t use it.

An advisory word to the wise and all electronics manufacturers is: before going into mass production just make sure your interconnection is both legal and you have the necessary licences to produce your products.

Previous Only Connect entries:

* Only Connect: Apple’s Thunderbolt Technology

* Only Connect: World Wide Top Cable Manufacturers

* Only Connect: Made in Britain for China (UK Manufacturing #5)

* Only Connect: The greening of electronics manufacturing (Going Green #7)

* Only Connect: On better manufacturing co-operation

* Only Connect – A small quiz on fiber optics

* Only Connect: A guide to fiber optics

* Only Connect: Product Technology – Cat 7 network cabling

* Only Connect: Carbon nanotubes – a new interconnection technology

* Only Connect: Ten things to consider when choosing a coax connector

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #4

* Only Connect: Renewable energy made in the UK (Going Green #5)

* Only Connect: Electronics and natural disasters

* Only Connect: A simple guide to DVI Connectors

* Only Connect: A Thunderbolt of innovation

* Only Connect: The golden principle of good design

* Only Connect: Common fiber connectors – a guide

* Only Connect: Product innovation – mixing signal

* Only Connect: IPC versus Greenpeace electronics scorecard

* Only Connect: Product innovation from Space

Tags: apple, cables, hdmi, locke, manufacturing industry, Only Connect, toshiba

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