[Discuss] OSHW questions

Dave Boyhan david.boyhan at gmail.com
Mon Nov 19 04:19:54 UTC 2012

This is not legal advice. We are not establishing a lawyer client
relationship.  I am not a patent lawyer.

> 1. can I patent a technology then can we also call it open source? or is
this then free tech, not open, because we would always potentially own the
rights to it, in which case that isn't honest about it being open source?

No. Yes. There's a severe restriction on use of the tech. Even if you
promise not to enforce it, transferees, successors or your estate could
still do so unless you nullify the patent beforehand. But if that's your
intent, no need to patent.

> 1a. what would be the implications of getting a patent and can we make
our own stipulations to a patent (ie we can never withhold information
about it even though we own it?)?

You have exclusive rights to use or license in your jurisdiction of
patent.  You can't alter the patent law itself. Once granted, you can
transfer, open-source, etc.  No point in doing that though. Just publish to
nullify possibility of a patent.

>  2.would a patent or a provisional patent be something worth considering,
for protection against someone taking my technology and patenting it?

Yes, but ... do/will you have the resources to prosecute/defend your
patent? What if GE comes after you?

>  3. could part of the technology be patented and part be open source?


> 4.is my technology "un-patentable" after 1 year of documentation on line
about it?

It depends on the documentation, but detailed, unrestricted publication
typically prevents patentability.

> 4a. what consists of publishing / documentation? online blogs, posts, or

Typically, sharing sufficient detail for someone to reproduce without
restrictions such as an NDA

> 5.Even as open source hardware technology, do I have to be careful and do
patent research to make sure no one has patented something similar?

Yes, within reason.  People can come after you for anything. The troll
business is built on otherwise worthless patents. It's good to do some
research. Exhaustive may not be necessary.
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