Re: [rp-ml] Z-corp, "open-sourcing" & "crowd-sourcing"

From: I.T. Daniher <>
Date: Thu Nov 24 2011 - 18:37:54 EET

Apologies. After studying up on INVENTS, you're 100% correct. I believe
this still relies on the assumption that all worthwhile ideas from BP were
also shared publicly, and that submissions to BP didn't somehow involve a
transfer of IP.

On Thu, Nov 24, 2011 at 10:22, Jeremy Pullin <>wrote:

> That’s not correct.****
> ** **
> Outside the U.S. we already operate the ‘first to file’ system. This does
> have an effect on who can apply for the patent but it makes no changes as
> to the validity of it. What I said below about prior art would still mean
> that BP would not be able to have a valid patent regardless of whether they
> are the first to file or not as would be the case for all open sourse
> stuff. I (and the vast majority of engineers outside the US) personally
> think that it can only be a good thing from a worldwide perspective that US
> patent laws are at last being brought into line with those for the rest of
> the world. Too many times in the past individuals and small organisations
> both inside and outside of the US have invented things and filed patent
> applications only for the ideas to be stolen and protected by US patents by
> larger US corporations who have the resource to be the first to achieve
> ‘reduction to practice’ whereby they are granted patent under the current
> ‘first to invent rule’ operated in the US.****
> ** **
> ** **
> *From:* [] *On
> Behalf Of *I.T. Daniher
> *Sent:* 24 November 2011 15:50
> *To:* Jeremy Pullin
> *Cc:* G. Sachs;
> *Subject:* Re: [rp-ml] Z-corp, "open-sourcing" & "crowd-sourcing"****
> ** **
> As of the ratification of the America INVENTS act, prior art factors very
> little into the granting of a patent. We in the US have moved from "first
> to invent" to "first to file."****
> ** **
> If BP finds something patentable in their newly collected ideas, and
> submits an application before anyone else, they're legally entitled to the
> IP.****
> On Thu, Nov 24, 2011 at 05:20, Jeremy Pullin <>
> wrote:****
> I’m not as familiar with patent laws in the US as I am with those in the
> UK and Europe but the idea of but the theory of BP and others stockpiling
> crowd sourced ideas for their own evil ends sounds a little conspiracy
> theorist to me. The problem with attempting to farm IP in this way lies in
> ‘Prior art’. Prior art which also known as ‘state of the art’ or
> ‘background art’ refers to any information which has been made available
> to the public before a date that could be relevant to a patent's claims of
> originality. Basically, if an invention has been described in prior art, a
> patent on that invention is not valid. To establish the validity of a
> patent application, the patent offices explore the prior art that existed
> before the invention occurred (in the US) or before the application was
> filed (in the rest of the world). Obviously there is no way that BP could
> track down the hundreds of thousands of people that submitted ideas and
> sign them all up non disclosure agreements. If the ideas were submitted
> onto discussion forums and publicly accessible web portals at the time then
> that constitutes prior art and even if BP restricted access to them after
> the oil spill had been dealt with, there is still no way that any patents
> they attempted to file would be valid. If BP (or others) were to be awarded
> a patent due to no prior art showing up on the initial ‘Novelty search’ the
> awarded patent could still then be ruled invalid if prior art was found
> during a subsequent ‘validity search’.****
> For the reasons above the scenario described where open source and crowd
> sourced ’free offerings get co-oped by large commercial interests,
> which can then go on to acquire patents on things they didn't even invent
> and then completely control them’ cannot happen. Once something has gone
> ‘open source’ such as RepRap or Arduino it cannot be seized upon by anyone
> and retrospectively patented. Even if it is then the patent can be
> retrospectively ruled as being invalid. Not even Adrian Bowyer could get a
> valid patent on the RepRap now even though he is widely and rightly
> recognized as the father of the platform. I hope that puts your mind at
> rest a bit about open source.****
> Regards****
> Jeremy.****
> ****
> ****
> *From:* [] *On
> Behalf Of *G. Sachs
> *Sent:* 23 November 2011 18:36
> *To:*
> *Subject:* [rp-ml] Z-corp, "open-sourcing" & "crowd-sourcing"****
> ****
> Some good points, Markus and Adrian (especially about some of the
> screwed-up things that go on in the U.S.!).
> While this is starting to get pretty far afield from the original, Z-corp,
> acquisition story, this discussion does bring up some other interesting
> questions about current economic trends and future employment possibilities
> and risks (with one of the less optimistic of those being that, most of us,
> may just end up working for little or nothing, in the future!). For example
> one of my biggest concerns with regards to both "open-sourcing" and its
> close cousin, "crowd-sourcing", is when these free offerings get co-oped
> by large commercial interests, which can then go on to acquire patents on
> things they didn't even invent and then completely control them. If and
> when this happens, it clearly defeats the purpose of the original,
> non-commercially, motivated work.
> For instance, during last year's Gulf oil disaster, there was a worldwide
> call for ideas to help stop the disaster and clean it up. Literally
> hundreds of thousands of ideas were generated and sent in to BP (at the
> request of the Obama administration). In the end, BP and the Obama
> administration claimed that not even a single useful, or practical, idea
> was generated from all this effort. In following up on this truly, record
> breaking, crowd-sourcing "experiment", I discovered that most of the
> participants never got any feedback from BP; no one in the government
> wanted to directly deal with any of the incoming ideas (that's why they
> were all referred to BP) which lead to and allowed BP to stockpile them
> into a huge *proprietary* database (repository) that only BP now has
> access to. This database has never been made public even though everything
> in it was contributed by the public and more troublesome, it is now not
> available to journalists and outside independent scientists to evaluate. To
> make matters worse, BP now has the right to patent anything derived from
> that database that the original proposers may not have thought to try and
> patent at the time of submission - i.e. those who so enthusiastically
> participated in this crowd-sourcing "exercise" ( homework), have now
> allowed for their commercially exploitation. Another example of this can be
> found in the protein folding websites and "games", that encourage people to
> help figure out how certain (very important) proteins are spatially
> configured. At first I thought this was a great idea and it sounded like
> both fun and "helpful to society", but then I realized that many of these
> solutions will go on to help large pharmaceutical companies developing new
> drugs (and make lots of money), without the "solvers" being compensated at
> all.
> There are also a few web sites devoted exclusively to providing clients
> with crowd-sourced solutions to very tough problems, in exchange for either
> just some "recognition", or in exchange for a, rather small, fixed-price
> reward - * provided they are successful in finding a solution*. Of
> coarse, if they are *not completely* successful (according to the paying
> client), then they get absolutely no compensation for their efforts. In
> addition to this, rather suspect, "reward model", the question of what
> happens to the *runner-up ideas* (which also may still be quite good) is
> never made clear - but I suspect the client gets to keep and use any of
> those as well, even though they have to pay nothing for those.
> When I questioned one of the founders of one of these crowd-sourcing sites
> about the equity of such business models, he told me that *the
> non-financial rewards* to the participants was*, perhaps,* just as
> valuable as the, *possible,* financial rewards (i.e. I guess the prestige
> of being named a "solver" might be worth just as much as any actual
> monetary compensation) - to which I responded that *"prestige" was all,
> well and good, but I'd, still, much prefer "the cash"*. I also made it
> clear that I didn't much care for their business model and indented to
> expose it for what it really was.*
> *G. Sachs****
> P.S. When it comes to the issue of IP rights, at least in the U.S., it all
> gets very complicated, very fast. There are no clear and simple answers as
> to what can and cannot happen and unfortunately there are considerations
> and "strategies" that go beyond just the law. When it comes right down to
> it, IP (in the U.S. at least) is really just a an example of game theory
> applied to the world of ideas.****
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Markus Hitter <>
> *To:* Jeremy Pullin <>
> *Cc:* " list" <>
> *Sent:* Wed, November 23, 2011 8:34:57 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [rp-ml] Zcorp!?
> Am 22.11.2011 um 15:22 schrieb Jeremy Pullin:
> > Just think how much computer hardware and ancillaries have been sold to
> > linux users over the years. Giving things away free does not nor will it
> > ever remove or even reduce the necessity for money and financial
> > exchanges.
> This is true and there are a few additional points:
> - If you buy a consumer PC, you get a closed source operating system for
> free, preinstalled. Well, perhaps not for free, but you can't avoid it
> anyways. So, the cost of proprietary stuff in the PC world is very low and
> undoubtly a noticeable number of PC users use the preinstalled OS just out
> of laziness.
> - In the computer server market, where people take a lot more care what
> variant of software they're running, open source OSs are on par or even
> dominant over proprietary counterparts.
> - Sheer price. Windows server costs a 3 digit number, a Rapid Prototyping
> machine costs a 5 digit number. The more digits, the more people think.
> - An important difference between open source software and open source
> hardware: with hardware, you can make quite some money by just
> manufacturing copies. Material price for the plastics parts of a RepRap is
> about EUR 5.-, still the price of such printed sets currently settles
> somewhere at EUR 65.- to EUR 80.-. No such thing with software, nobody
> would pay you a single Euro for just downloading a Linux kernel or Ubuntu
> OS*.
> This later point leads to quite a number of people doing financially
> healthy business by just making copies - not just Adrian with his 5
> friends. It also leads to many people designing something new in the
> prospect of selling the result. It also leads to some RepRappers saying:
> developers do the work, copy shops collect the money.
> To keep the topic: open source hardware is very obviously a working
> innovation model, not just a freetime hobby for altruists. Think of your
> engineering textbooks being full of downloadble designs and you concentrate
> yourself on just the new part. That's close to what happens in the open
> source hardware community.
> Markus Hitter
> aka "Traumflug" on RepRap
> * When downloading legal music, you don't pay the download either, but a
> licence fee for "owning" the music.
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> Dipl. Ing. (FH) Markus Hitter
> ****
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Received on Thu Nov 24 18:29:52 2011

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