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GM's Bob Stewart NASTF "Who's Cheating Whom" Presentation

This article is Bob Stewart’s presentation, "Who’s Cheating Whom", reduced to the essential points he makes on behalf of GM. Bob Stewart’s presentation was at the fall NASTF meeting, relevant to the GM Tech II. The presentation is available on youtube. This presentation was in front of primarily their sales channel partners, and NASTF staff. The Q&A section is mostly from those in attendance.

Throughout this article I will quote directly from his presentation and reference the time in the recording. The added commentary is in bold, and for clarification.

Many people call this GM Tech II a scan tool, and at one time it was just that. Early on this tool sold for $2000 and up. Later this tool added reprogramming of the different computers in vehicles pretty much like our Actia J2534 reprogramming tool.

This tool has many add-ons, such as the MDI interface, cables, flash memory cards and more. Depending on how it is configured it starts around $4000 and can easily hit $12,000. Then add in the yearly software updates, as well as other accessories and this provides GM with a huge profit centre. Lots more than they can make on several cars.

Bob Stewart’s presentation to the group started @ 24:00 minutes in, topic " Who’s Cheating Whom " counterfeit scan tools. He immediately states that it is all about Intellectual property (IP), and the slide shows copyright and trademark info.

25:00 He says the internet is responsible for IP theft -- acknowledges that "software code can be copyrighted"

Editor notes: see GNU Open Source Auto Technology Programming article snippet below. This is very important as it relates to Bob Stewart’s comments at this point and throughout his presentation.

28:10 "GM has been manufacturing the Tech II since the early to mid 1990s"

Editor notes: make mental note that he says ‘manufacturing’.

30:10 "Counterfeit scan tool risks; misdagnose, quality, safety, no warranty, out $$$. The buyers reward; save $$$"

31:20 Bob Stewart “they are NOT accurate or reliable”

Editor notes: took cheap shots, reminiscent of GM in the early 1990s, in a slide against Autozone, and Carparts Connection – most auto parts stores use scan tools made by OTC Tool company.

35:02 with a wide brush stroke he blames "Online sellers / Internet sellers for counterfeit tools"

37:40 Says GM has taken “legal actions against infringers. We’ve done both civil and criminal against them.”

Editor notes: GM can NOT file criminal actions against anyone, that ability is reserved for governments only.

Q&A starts:

42:40 HOST RELAYED QUESTION: “wouldn’t have to buy all these cheap tools if the OEM was less”

BOB STEWART RESPONSE: “ Teriffic, I can go back to the two slides of the circuit board, that is how they make the tool cheaper. They put cheaper components in. And they don’t put the research and development. You don’t have the technical support behind it because they can’t really support it. They figured out some way to make it work, but that is about it.”

Editor notes: the slide shows a circuit board with maybe $100 retail of chips on it. As to the R&D, GM makes the vehicles, programs the vehicles and that is where the R&D money is consumed not in the tool. The tool simply access that programming and or updates it.

43:20 FLOOR QUESTION CHARLIE: “as we transition from embedded tools to ‘cloud based or leased software download’ [do] you see this becoming less and less of a problem, because you can tell if you are connected to a counterfeit tool and therefor not download software”

BOB STEWART RESPONSE: “we could only hope, charlie that we will get to that point”

Editor notes: Bob Stewart confirmed here that GM is looking at software subscriptions, which means the buyer of their tool must renew his subscription every year or the tool doesn’t work. Not a good scenario to look forward to after the huge purchase expense, which means customer repair cost will skyrocket.

44:50 FLOOR QUESTION JOHN: “is there a recommended procedure if we come across a ‘cloned or a tool that we know is obviously an illegal tool’. Is there something we should do, in your case a Tech II or an MDI, do you want to know about it?”

BOB STEWART RESPONSE: “yes. Definitely send it to us. It is not illegal to own a counterfeit, but it is illegal to sell them. That’s the crazy thing here in the US.”

Editor notes: Bob Stewart has told the audience that they should send GM any info about any tools they suspect ‘might be’ illegal. So GM is now having the distribution channel partners act as police and report to GM.

46:40 BOB STEWART RESPONSE: “estimate we take off 2 – 3 Tech IIs off online everyday. We do our best to try and protect the consumer, but the only way we are really going to be able to do it is impact that demand”

Editor notes: GM could easily impact that demand by reducing the pricing. Consider an Actia reprogrammer that we sell and an enhanced datascan tool for all OBD II vehicles. These two tools together typically cost under $4000, so why is a Tech II that compares to them three times as much?

47:00 BOB STEWART RESPONSE: “one of the indications originally was the Tech II for anybody that doesn’t know, the Tech II is assembled completely in southern California”

Editors notes: important note that Bob Stewart now states that GM only assembles, not manufactures the Tech II. See Bob Stewart 28:10 comment.

47:00 BOB STEWART RESPONSE continues: “and ultimately we just want our cars diagnosed properly. We want our vehicles diagnosed and repaired properly. It doesn’t matter who repairs it, its a GM dealer, an independent. We just want it diagnosed properly and repaired properly, because at the end of the day, that is a GM customer driving a GM vehicle and we want him to have a good service experience.”

Editor notes: I have been around GM and their vehicles for many years, even from the first OBD produced vehicle and nowhere in any service manual, owners manual or any technical publication have I ever read any copyright notices about GNU programming.

The following is from an article on Bloody Cars and you should take your time, read this snippet carefully and consider the comments Bob Stewart made in his presentation relevant to IP and copyright. Then ask yourself, if Bob Stewart’s comments as a GM representative is acceptable to you.

GNU Open Source Auto Technology Programming- article snippet

“Open-source is free, publicly available and typically very useful, but the tricky part is in the terms and conditions,” said John LeRoy, a partner and head of the open-source software practice at Southfield, Mich.-based Brooks Kushman PC. “There are tens of thousands of pieces of code out there that are open-sourced, and every one of them is subject to fine print."

“The problem is developers all the way through the chain aren’t reading it.”

In 2008, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California set the precedent that using open-source code and not abiding by the terms and conditions qualifies as copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is a federal matter and qualifies the infringing party to pay damages with the potential of an injunction, LeRoy said.

An injunction for a minuscule piece of code in an infotainment system on a globally produced automobile could, potentially, shut down the line in several plants simultaneously, costing the liable party millions of dollars, he said.

“Failing to comply with the fine print — that’s not a trivial matter, this is a federal matter,” LeRoy said.

Susan Kornfield, a partner at Bodman PLC in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the issue is that suppliers and automakers often don’t even know they have open-source code in their products.

“It’s funny. When you talk to a CEO, they think their team wrote all the code,” she said. “I don’t think they are up to speed on the risks, but as more lawyers educate and operate with an audit team, it will get better.”
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Comparing our 2X80S to competitors

Controls Data Corruption
Improved Data Speed
Enhanced Software Included
Phone Tablet PDA Capable
Multiple PC Applications
Multiple Phone Tablet PDA Applications
2 Wheel Vehicle Applications
Component Specs
OBD Training
Legacy OS Support
  Yes or Included           No or not included              Some or limited
All above information is based on published information as of 01/2015 or products purchsed to confirm

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