• Open Manufacturing – the issue is patent law doesn’t support viral licenses easily

    by  • February 20, 2008 • Hexayurt • 0 Comments

    The issue is patents. Open Source derives it’s power from copyright law – they use the property right of “copyright” and then pool it by using the GPL and other such licenses which rest on copyright.

    Patent is a huge pain in the ass. You could do an open source patent pool, but that’s a very expensive and hard to manage undertaking.

    So… one option is to work in the domain of no property rights – public domain – which is where a manufacturing technology goes if it is disclosed without patents, or is patented but the patent has expired.

    But then what if you publish your design, then somebody makes a small tweak which kind of perfects your design, and then patents their tweak – without a patent on the original item, you can’t require them to release their changes for general use, because there’s no property right that you hold which applies to their work.

    A problem, for sure, in terms of doing Open Manufacturing in the same vein as Open Source.

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


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