Obstacles to open source hardware (4): the public patent proposal

A proposal to solve the patent issues holding back Open Hardware development, by Jon Phillips:

“There are two parts I believe we need for whatever we want to call OPEN/PUBLIC patents. I’m preferring the PUBLIC PATENTS concept right now, basically to try and make easier/more clear patents so that anyone can use them and not get sued, or rather, to try to make sure that anyone can build upon hardware and software innovation without the fear of litigation.

So, what I think we need is:

1.) a place where patents of all forms can be publicly disclosed loudly and with a disclaimer for those submitting patentable ideas which have, at least in the USA, a 1 year grace period on being registered, so that the public can be assured that in that 1 year grace period, the patentable idea will not be submitted as a patent, or if it is, it is released under the/a public patent license. After that 1 year, the patentable idea (that is not patented), is available for anyone to use if not patented…which leads to next point…

2.) A Public Patent License which basically allows for any patent to be used safely by the public. This would be useful for old patent portfolios and if one spends the money to patent something and then to release under a public patent license.

Right now, what I can source is that best path for COPYLEFT hardware projects (and those feigning with the weak terms OPEN HARDWARE, FREE HARDWARE, OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE and OPEN SOFTWARE), is to publish loudly on public channels when new innovation happens (details on this to be decided of course). Qi-Hardware wiki is a great community resource for this, as well as your blog, or other places. Publishing loudly publicly provides prior art for this type of 1 year grace period to occur.

I’m working on a new public project with some of the actors in the space if anyone here is interested…My goal is to create such a site for all sorts of freeing of patents, and also to insure Science Commons/CC create a very functional and useful public patent license that people can use. Let’s call that the PPL (Public Patent License)…or as I’m saying: patents for (the) PPL (people).

I must admit, I’m not precise on my terms around patents and my above knowledge is forming mostly around patents in the USA. But, to get patents right internationally, that’s even more fun. For now, my concern is really about getting a clear path on a solution for those worried about patents or working in our FLOSS and COPYLEFT HARDWARE communities.”

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