Obstacles to open source hardware (5): Patents are NOT the issue, argues Sam Rose

An update to the following series on obstacles to open source hardware:

1. The lack of open-source culture among component makers

2. IP, lack of adequate open licenses, patents

3. the MakerBot derivatives controversy

4. the public patent proposal

Sam Rose:

“In my opinion, it is not patents, but rather the world-view and perception of the requirement of patents for protection and capitalization/royalty recovery that is the problem. It is true that patents can be a problem where lawyers companies are funding the patent filing and enforcement of every possible idea that can be thought of. This is one reason why I release code ASAP.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle for small businesses to join physical economies of peer production is *not* patents. Instead, it is a lack of basic literacies of how to operate sustainably in physical economies of peer production.

Most of the concepts people have of “business” are framed in examining and developing their businesses as entities apart from the natural and human systems the business is a part of. Most of the models people know are centered around earning revenue. Knowledge is not widespread related to sharing, co-creating and sustaining commons, cooperation, open license, collaboration, etc. Many people do not understand how “business” works wherein you may be balancing selling some things, and giving some things away for free, sharing and trading, etc all from the same production activity.

Even among emerging projects that are released under an open license, it is not common to see the projects managed in a way that makes it accessible for other designers/builders to contribute effectively (although this is changing. It takes more effort to implement this in physical production projects. Tangible Bit and SKDB will help with this.)

Plus, in the case of businesses, I know from first-hand experience that it is tough for many businesses to adopt open source technology for general production that does not meet safety and basic regulation requirements. In open+pario community, we are offering to collaborate on research in helping physical projects meet these requirements.”

More info: http://openpario.mime.oregonstate.edu/projects/standards-research

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