Reverse Engineering and Its Social Implications

A comprehensive analysis of reverse engineering and its potential impact on American society in the future.

An increasingly common phrase being bandied about today is ?reverse engineering.? The U.S. Supreme Court has defined reverse engineering as starting with the known product and working backward to divine the process that aided in its development or manufacture. This paper provides a comprehensive examination of precisely what reverse engineering is, how it is being used today, and what the implications of the technique may be for the future. A summary of the research is provided in the conclusion.
“According to McGonagle and Vella (1996), in reverse engineering, a company takes apart a product and examines how it was assembled, what it cost, and what the entire package and its components tell us about the competition and its activities. “Typically, the customers of reverse engineering are those in product development and engineering. The time horizon is always retrospective, since the company is looking at what has already been done, and the targets are competitors, direct and sometimes indirect” (McGonagle & Vella, 1996, p. 17).”

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