Talk:Clean room design

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Re: "A famous example[edit]

Re: "A famous example is from Compaq who built the first clone of an IBM computer through a clean room implementation of the BIOS."

Are we sure that it was Compaq that did the clean room implementation of the BIOS? Could it have been Ajwad or Phoenix (possibly under contract with Compaq)? says:

A company called Ajwad set up a team, and showed them IBM's source code to the BIOS (these people, having seen IBM's code, could not now write their own BIOS). This team then wrote up, from IBM's source code, a detailed functional specification, stating exactly what an IBM-compatible BIOS would be required to do. A second team, who had never seen IBM's code, and were therefore under no obligation to IBM's agreement, took this document created by the first team, and wrote their clone. This cost around $1m at the time, because they not only had to do the work, they had to ensure that it was fully and provably documented that they had strictly followed this "clean room" method, and therefore not broken the agreement with IBM. says:

The clone manufacturers were forced to develop their own BIOS in a socalled 'clean room' situation. The first company to successfully develop their own BIOS was Compaq Computer Corp. And it is said that a company called Phoenix Software Associates in Norwood has been involved with the development of this BIOS.


Clean room design is useful as a defense against infringement because it relies on independent invention. Because independent invention is not a defense against patents, clean room designs typically cannot be used to circumvent patent restrictions.

is it useful or not?

Yes, it's useful against infringement on intellectual property, in particular copyright and trade secrets. It's no good against patents, but they are only one kind of IP. There's no contradiction here. 23:34, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
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Why? When one refers to "infringement" one generally means copyright and trade secrets. Have you ever heard anyone say "patent infringement"? I've always heard it referred to as "patent violation". -- Toksyuryel talk | contrib avatar 02:37, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
The U.S. Patent Office does call it Infringement of Patents. --JayLevitt (talk) 17:45, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Why clarify it? Because it's confusing to someone who doesn't know a lot about the topic. I'll try to clarify it along the lines of 82.92's explanation. Duoduoduo (talk) 18:16, 2 February 2013 (UTC) On second thought, it has already been clarified relative to the above passage. Duoduoduo (talk) 18:20, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Company example[edit]

I removed this from the article:

Another example of this technique is for designing the structure and operation of companies which have agreed to merge. In April 2005, SBC Communications and AT&T announced that independent business consultants were using clean room design techniques to develop recommendations for the structure and operations of their upcoming newly merged company. The work was kept secret until the companies closed on the merger deal; thereafter the results were presented to upper management. This approach allowed the companies to adhere to business laws (specifically antitrust legislation) while they were still competitors, but gave the newly merged company a head start in its structure and operations, when all legal rules have been satisfied for the merger.

While this is really interesting, I don't actually think it's the same thing at all. It describes a clean room in the sense that no information is allowed out; as distinct from clean room design, where no information (except the sanitised spec) is allowed in. There's no suggestion in the above paragraph that what information came in was in any way an issue with the consultants' recommendations; which seems to me to remove any but the most superficial resemblance to the sort of clean room design that this article describes.

If someone can explain why I'm wrong, I'm happy to hear it.... TSP 00:55, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

ABD (this is hearsay)[edit]

My dad worked for Arab British Dynamics in Egypt in the early 80s, a subsidiary of BAe (now BAE Systems). We commonly picked up Russian missiles for reverse engineering, while theoreticlly developing Swingfire. I am not sure this would come under the clean-room design criteria, though there was (natch) no involvement from others. It may also be covered by the 30-year rule, and I would not be able to provide references. Is there any worth to add it?

SimonTrew (talk) 13:37, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Not really admissible, I'm afraid. Things can't go on to Wikipedia without some form of previously published source (see Wikipedia:Verifiability), especially potentially controversial things like this. In this case, it might even be covered under official secrets legislation, making it illegal to publish in any case. TSP (talk) 14:35, 22 February 2009 (UTC)


I thought AMD reverse engineering Intel stuff was supposed to be an important example of this technique. I thought it was important for setting court precedence as well. Perhaps someone knows something more about this?--Cosmicosmo (talk) 11:18, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Wrong link to Finnish wikipedia[edit]

The article in Finnish Wikipedia is about a coding technique called cleanroom to reduce amount of bugs in code, not to avoid copyright infringement. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:16, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Columbia and clean room[edit]

We need a citation for that, particularly because what I found were sources suggesting otherwise: [1]: “It is rumored that Columbia got in trouble with IBM for cloning the PC, and it was this trouble that caused upstart Compaq to make sure they had a complete "clean room" reverse engineering of the IBM so their ROM would stand up to a legal fight.” Someone not using his real name (talk) 23:27, 19 February 2014 (UTC)