If you can substitute a microcontroller for your hardware, do so. The
internal code-protect is very good. Of
course, there is a trade-off here. If the
controller costs more than the hardware, is the added protection worthwhile? However, with controllers
being so cheap now, this consideration is becoming moot. If the hardware is extensive, consider an ASIC
instead of a controller. They have
code-protect, as well.
Use signal decoys. Have the controller send and receive meaningless
signals. If these signals change, shut
down the system. This makes it look
to an outsider that these signals are
important. Be careful not to affect the
reliability of your product.
Hardware can also be used as a
decoy. This approach is clearly
expensive. It only makes sense to use
this technique if there is a large profit margin. Simply put, add additional
hardware and a controller to monitor
the hardware. The additional hardware actually does nothing meaningful. However, the controller sends
signals to it and receives signals from
it. If the controller detects changes to
the circuit, it shuts down. In this way,
anyone playing with the phony circuit
crashes the system. Adding confusion helps to prevent copying and
protects your product.
As you can see, there are a lot of
secret ways to protect your product
that don't cost very much. Your imagination is your best asset here.
Remember, a product will only be
copied if it is financially advantageous. If the copier has to spend
weeks or months trying to figure out
your product, he'll look elsewhere.
Copiers don't want to work. If they
did, they'd design their own products!
Often you want to share your
information with another company.
This may be because you want them
to provide financial support or you
want them to produce your product.
In this case, you want a "Non-