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IP protection for open source hardware? Answered

If my solar condenser ends up working I'm wanting to make it open source. I realise that this means effectively giving up all ownership of it, and that's fine, but the last thing I want is for someone else to go and patent it and stop anyone else from using it. What protections are available for this kind of thing? Patents obviously, but is there anything a little less intensive? I'll be looking into copyleft and creative commons and all that, but if someone can point in the right general direction first it'll save me some time.

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lemonie

9 years ago

If you've published it no one else can patent it as theirs. L

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SolarFlower_orglemonie

Reply 9 years ago

Define publish. And what happens if they do anyway? (Court, I'm guessing.)

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lemonieSolarFlower_org

Reply 9 years ago

OED (publish):
2 make generally known
3 announce formally
4Law communicate to a third party
If you present your solar condenser as a design, concept, full working device on the internet (e.g. here) is is in some way published.
A patent application would be rejected - patent clerks know how to use Google.

L

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SolarFlower_orglemonie

Reply 9 years ago

That's actually pretty cool. Makes my life a lot easier. But what's the point of patents in that case? Why go to all the hassle and expense if just publishing the design on a website or journal or whatever gives the same protections?

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lemonieSolarFlower_org

Reply 9 years ago

Publishing it stops other people from claiming it as their intellectual property, but it would also stop you from patenting it yourself. Since you don't want to, it doesn't really matter. L

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alan.chathamSolarFlower_org

Reply 9 years ago

Just like Lemonie said, (at least US) patent law basically states that you waive your right to patent protection if you publish, discuss, sell, or otherwise make your invention publicly known. A great way around this in the US at least, for the small inventor, is the provisional patent process, which basically buys you the right to patent an invention within 1 year after you first file for the provisional patent. This lets you then publicly talk about your invention and even sell it, and if it works out for you, you can file a regular patent, but if it doesn't, you're not out the few thousand dollars and years that the full patent process takes.

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lemonieSolarFlower_org

Reply 9 years ago

If you tell people about it it's shared / given away for free, you can't patent it after you've "published" it, but you could patent it first. (Someone else will know patent law in more detail) L

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lemonieSolarFlower_org

Reply 9 years ago

OK, doesn't look like anyone else is interested in the topic - get building? L