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Patents and issues surrounding them

Discussion in 'Announcements and News' started by rolygate, Sep 3, 2011.

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  1. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    There is an increasingly common trend for equipment designs in common use by the community and trade to be patented. We are aware of two items so far but there may be more in the pipeline.

    It is possible that these items were initially the work of people in the community other than those who obtained the patent, and/or that they depend on 'common' work. This argument will most likely continue for a very long time, but we would like to suggest an alternative.

    New designs could be patented and assigned either a GPL/GNU license (for free and open use by all, including manufacture and profit but without any exclusive rights for anyone), or be assigned to a Trust to hold such rights independently on behalf of the community.

    We can see that a patent needs to be established on anything new as soon as possible, since otherwise outsiders will obtain the patent at high cost to the community and trade. However, this does not mean that the patent holder has to keep exclusive rights to it, and they could - having secured the safety of the design - assign it to the community in one of several ways.

    ECF would be prepared to work with any attorneys interested, to fund research, documentation and provision of a GPL-style licensing arrangement; or alternatively fund an independent Trust to hold patents. This would have for example three persons nominated by the community for their independence, trustworthiness and experience, and which would hold all the patents and any funds.

    We are open to all offers requiring help and will provide such funds as are possible, and we could perhaps obtain more by a fundraising drive. It might be envisaged that patent application fees and attorney's fees would be needed. Needless to say we don't want or need any involvement, but we will help if possible.

    Please consider either licensing your inventions to all at a nominal fee, or better: assigning the rights to all via a GPL licence, or to an independent Trust. We know that rights need protecting against third parties who might hold us all to ransom, but there is more than one solution.

    The need for patents
    What is not open to argument is that anything new needs to be patented before outsiders grab it. They could either refuse to license it or charge astronomical fees, so that only large corporates could afford it.

    What we could do better is to set up joint ownership of these rights. This is a good route, but it might cost money and so perhaps we could help.

    Discussion cannot take place in this section but there is an open thread here:
    Discussion: Modders forum
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