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

From: G. Sachs <>
Date: Fri Nov 25 2011 - 04:21:49 EET

Jeremy, most of these ideas were NOT "open source", or otherwise accessible to the public. Many of the people that provided BP with ideas were fairly naive (including many scientists and engineers) and trusted BP with their proposals. They did, however, state that the information they were providing the company, for the purpose of evaluation, wasn't considered confidential - but that's not the same thing as their having already made these ideas public knowledge (since BP didn't make them public, even though they could have). For those who did publish their ideas before submitting them to BP, it's a different story, but most did not - they just provided them to BP and waited for some feedback, which most never got (except maybe to be told by BP that the ideas were not viable). Both in Europe, and now here, it will become the law that unless you can actually prove that someone filing a patent before you has done so based on documents actually stolen from you, or the invention that they are claiming is essentially identical to yours (or at least very, very, similar) - then you will no longer have any recourse. Also, anything in the public domain has to be almost identical to someones patent filing for it to be really useful in blocking that person's application (you should see some of the things that actually get patented in the U.S.!). So, you could well be the "first to invent" something in the minds of many people (i.e. all your colleagues and family), but that will no longer matter if you, also, are not the "first to file", or at least the first to publish your work within the prior year of someones filing (imagine what that means for hackers that are good at hiding their tracks and can file even before you publish your results - forget !). Even if you publish your research, but then fail to follow up with a patent filing on it, you can loose all rights to many, if not all, the elements of your work that a court finds another person can lawfully claim as theirs, by reason of filing first, as long as they can argue they have made sufficient "novel contributions" to distinguish their application from the prior published work (which doesn't take much at all). Drug companies in the U.S. get new patents all the time by merely "tweaking" their drugs, or making them "time-release", changing their shapes and colors (for trademark purposes), or combining 2 or more prior drugs into one pill. There are dozens of RP patents that are extremely similar to one another, yet all appear to be considered equally valid and independently developed. It is also well known that many other types of patents overlap each other in terms of their claims, but no one is doing anything about this serious problem. I have even found a few examples of recent inventions on disguised perpetual motion machines that, under statute, aren't even supposed to be allowed to issue (but then not all patent examiners understand conservation of energy principles) - just look for "gravity motors", or certain other types of magic "fuel-less" motors. G.S. ________________________________ From: Jeremy Pullin <> To: I.T. Daniher <> Cc: G. Sachs <>; Sent: Thu, November 24, 2011 11:22:45 AM Subject: RE: [rp-ml] Z-corp, "open-sourcing" & "crowd-sourcing" 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. [] 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. [] 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 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This email and any attachments are confidential and are for the use of the addressee only. If you are not the addressee, you must not use or disclose the contents to any other person. Please immediately notify the sender and delete the email. Statements and opinions expressed here may not represent those of the company. Email correspondence is monitored by the company. This information may be subject to export control regulation. You are obliged to comply with such regulations. 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Received on Fri Nov 25 04:15:55 2011

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