[Discuss] GE and Quirky partnering

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 16:11:32 UTC 2013

Probably not. Quirky's IP FAQ hasn't changed.

Quirky still owns everything and pays "inventors" a royalty.

I suppose this might count as open washing in the sense that the GE&Quirky
partnership is leveraging the word "open" to get more press than they
otherwise would have. But they mean "open" as a verb, not as an adjective
or noun. They mean that they're literally making it easy to see GE's

They're right that average people don't really understand patent law, so
they get nervous about the possibility of infringing a patent and getting

But they're implying that average people have any hope of actually
commercializing a physical product to the point where their revenue is
large enough to make them worth suing. That's not a realistic fear. It is a
common rationalization for why an "inventor" isn't actually selling their
"million dollar idea."

No, if GE wanted to make their patents available to the open source
community (like as a charitable deduction?) they would just publish a
promise like Google and IBM did. They wouldn't need a third party like
Quirky. Hell, if they were serious about allowing open source infringement
then they wouldn't HAVE to partner with anyone. A dozen portals would
spring up overnight to make the patents browse-able.

The reason Quirky is involved is that they have demonstrated
year-after-year increases in revenue. They've got a successful business
model. GE just wants to use them for free R&D. It's a technology transfer
program. There might not even be a standing legal agreement between GE and
Quirky. For all we know Quirky might have to negotiate every license on a
case-by-case basis. The primary value from the partnership is the brand
name recognition.

When Quirky or GE actually starts talking about new legal/business
structures it will get interesting. Until then it's just a slick NYC tech
startup getting another round of investment and hyping it with professional
multimedia. The only difference in this case is that the investment is in
the form of branding and technology transfer instead of the usual cash

Haha, actually, I wonder if Quirky had to give up any equity to make the
deal happen :-) that would be interesting!

On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 9:50 AM, Chris Church <thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com
> wrote:

> On Apr 12, 2013, at 10:45 AM, Alicia Gibb wrote:
> This phrase: Quirky and GE are working to return patents to their
> intended purpose, to provide inspiration for future inventors.
> gives me the feeling that they are giving up their rights to the patents,
> not just allowing the patent itself to be viewed, as you said, we can
> already view patents since they are public, so that would be ridiculous. I
> think what they mean is that they will be opening up their patents for
> people to use rather than licensing them. But I also believe in unicorns,
> so maybe I'm just optimistic.
> Alicia
> I think the real determining factor here, in regards to "open-ness" will
> be the answer to this question:
> "If I design a product around one of these patents, and Quirky turns it
> down, can I produce it on my own without being sued by GE?"
> Chris
> _______________________________________________
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