Steve, I know that neither one of us is a lawyer. But, I've spent a lot of time and money on lawyers specializing in intellectural property, and have been involved in a number of reverse-engineering projects. And I'm not aware of anything except an actual patent that can block reverse engineering. You can't copyright ideas or information, only a particular expression of an idea. And trade secrets are protected only by their secrecy--if someone else figures it out, then they know the secret, too. (In fact, that's a major problem with trade secrets--You can attempt to protect something by keeping it a trade secret, but there's always the risk that someone else might come up with the same idea and then patent it, in which case they are now the owner of that technology.)
Regarding your question of why nobody has reverse-engineered the H3D, the more interesting question is why IBM never sued Compaq or Phoenix Techonolgies for reverse-engineering the BIOS of the IBM PC. The answer is that they dearly wanted to, but couldn't, for the reasons I listed above.
You say that there are "licensing issues at play here"; I would love to know under what legal theory these issues are purported to exist. As I've said several times now, other than patents, nothing else is really an issue for reverse engineering.
Not really. Unless the interface is encrypted, I expect I could reverse engineer it in 2-3 months, for $2-300,000.
You're right, lawyer I am not. And what I know of this particular situation is certainly sketchy in terms of legality, licensing, intellectual property rights, etc. I'm guessing to some degree and filling in blanks to another. As we all are seeing, getting to the bottom line fact of the matter is difficult at best.
For whatever reasons, what has been intended
to be made clear to me from Sinar themselves is that neither Hasselblad nor Phase One can function electronically with the Hy6. Only Leaf and Sinar. The reasons for why has been worded a number of different ways to me, none of which are clear, and none of which I have - as has been established - an experienced handle on (licensing, intellectual property, reverse engineering, etc).
So, this seems to be real - at least for the present - why it is, I am not sure. But I have also the understanding that there were "licensing" issues or whatever term or framing it would fall under with Hasselblad and the H1 project. And that, from my understanding, no medium format back was ever "licensed", or whatever for the H2, only the H1. With the H2, an agreement was never completed (at least with Phase One). The fact you can use Phase One, Leaf, Sinar on H2 is because it is really no different with those backs operationally than with H1 cameras. But it's evidence that something more than reverse engineering is required.
And it does bring up the question of why Leaf or Phase would not/have not "reverse engineered" their product to go on an H3, try to et the HCD28mm to work, etc. I have a definite sense their is more at work here than what we're seeing.
Regardless, all this could change in the blink of an eye. Next week we could see the Phase One PHy6 or the Hasselblad HHy6.