inserting a watermark onto a drawing

I'm hoping I can put down enough info as I am not the engineer.
My company does autocad drawings for parts for our customers. Often times we actually design the part. After the design, we send via email, but sometimes by fax, a copy of the drawing to the customer for pre production approval.

On several occasions, the customer(s) have taken our drawing(s) and submitted them to our competitors for bid.

So my thought is to put a watermark beneath each drawing before submittal to the customer. My engineer has not been able to make this happen.

Any ideas???

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Putting a watermark on the image will not stop them passing on or other companies bidding for the work.

You need to either

- not send them the autocad file (which would be very easy to reverse engineer into measurements and fittings etc) and instead send them a grphic file converted from the cad file.  They can see the item but not get the detail level.


- get them to sign some sort of non disclosure agreement.  If they break this and you know it is hapeening you can then take them to court.

The easiest way to do that is to put a piece of text on top the entire product drawing and put it on color 8
Sounds like a job for a steganography program.

This hidden method of inserting messages into pictures is explained in some depth HERE ( - quite old, but a really good read.

There a quite a few programs that will do what you need: take a look at as a free example to give you a flavour.

Edster9999 is right though - you should have some sort of non disclosure contract in place if youre passing valuable information prior to payment to unknown (and therefore potentially untrustworthy( clients.
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You can apply a digital signature to prove the file is yours (but it can till be copied). You can output it as an image, (the same applies, it is just a slower process to copy). You will need to as stated, put it in writhing so there is legal recourse. The digital signature can help in that you can have a proof of design and time of design.
tech7734Author Commented:
of course, nothing will stop them from sending the drawing to someone else, but if there is a watermark at least other companies will know where it is coming from. Not sending the drawing for customer approval is NOT an option as they must have a drawing approved prior to production. And they must have all details to approve.

I'm not quite sure how putting a "hidden message" in the drawing helps my cause??
The same applies to  digital signatures.

Obviously, all drawings have a "do not copy, etc" clause on them but they can put white out on the drawing and resend to others. And as far as taking them to court, what is the point. Its like throwing good money after bad.

What started this whole endeavor for me was this. In 2011, a company sent me a part that they wanted made. I sent it to engineering to draw for a first article approval. I sent the drawing to the customer along with a bid. They approved the drawing and I was awarded the bid, to the tune of $250,000.00. In 2012, they send MY drawing out to all of my competitors for bid. I spent all of the time and effort designing and spec'ing the product, and all my competitors have to do is bid it.

So, I would like all of my drawings to go out with our company watermark on them.
A watermark can be a way of unobtrusively marking a document for identification in the event of a dispute over ownership or intellectual property. If that Mark can be easily detected, it is more easily removed or altered.

What I find difficult to understand is why you wish to do this if you aren't prepared to pursue miscreants in the event of them "screwing you over"? By your own admission, you don't see the point of throwing good money after bad.

The purpose of identifying your documents with watermarks( visible or invisible ) is to deter this misappropriation of your IP, but if you can't or won't back that up with the threat of litigation, I fear your company will be repeatedly abused along the same lines.

If all you want is a shadow watermark, that can be printed in ms word or publisher, either before or after the design is output to it.

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We do this at my company before we send design drawings to the field so everyone knows the drawings are out for preliminary or conceptual and NOT yet ready for construction.

To my knowledge, AutoCAD can put a big piece of text across a drawing, but cannot control its opacity/transparency like a watermark.

If you create pdfs and don't have that many drawings, which seems to be the case here, you can use Adobe Acrobat to apply whatever watermark you want. It can say anything; be any size, font, or angle; and be any level of opacity. We have more drawings than would be practical for this method, so we output our drawings as pdfs and use software on our server to automatically add a watermark. We simply drop our pdfs into an "input" folder on the network, and the drawings automagically appear seconds later in the "output" folder with the designated watermark, otherwise unchanged. You can set up different input folders for different automatic watermarks.

I believe the software we use is made by We produce a huge number of drawings, and this system works very well for us.

tech7734Author Commented:
I will check out adlibsoftware as a possible solution.

It sounds like a viable solution.

And, yes, we also have a lot of drawings. At this point over 2000 for over 800 clients.

tech7734Author Commented:
I'd like to thank everyone for their input.

I split the points because the two solutions are both viable.
Autocad can output to PDF, so I decided to purchase Adobe Acrobat Pro which can a) add a watermark in text or image and b) then convert to jpg or tiff. This adds a watermark and creates a file that cannot easily and readily be changed. While nothing can completely stop removal of identification, this at least cuts it down.

The adlib software solution  is a great, but pricy solution as well. We will be looking to this solution in the future as I've put it into next years budget.

Again, thank you all...
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