[Discuss] GE and Quirky partnering

Marketply contact at marketply.org
Wed Apr 17 16:59:51 UTC 2013

On April 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM Chris Church <thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com>

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?"



You can't produce your own derivative of their design (if your derivative
actually needs their design), at least not until their patent expires (in 18
years or less), unless you get a license. However you can patent that new design
and license it to them or sue them for using it.

This is what I've learned from asking questions of patent lawyers, although it
could be slightly inaccurate but I believe that's the gist of it. The court
would ultimately decide if the lawsuit is valid, in any case.

On April 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:

As for GE "opening" up its patents, I doubt they are doing anything remotely
close to Google or IBM's promise not to prosecute open source infringement of
patents. The thing about patents is that they protect ideas, so once you've got
a patent you can sue anyone who uses that idea, for anything, even if they
didn't realize they were infringing. When the patent owner licenses the patent
all they do is accept money in return for a promise not to sue. Google and IBM
made that promise for free.

You can't patent or protect ideas themselves, you need a clear design or
invention and it needs to be patented for the protection.

The law is changing this year to add a new twist to the invention process. It
used to be "first to invent" which means you can keep quiet about your invention
and if someone else tries to patent or use it, you could've claimed dibs on the
invention by having witnesses sign an affidavit proclaiming that you were the
first inventor by a date you'd claim.

Now it's changing to "first to file", so regardless if you had invented
something first, you must have filed it before anyone else. This conforms to
global standards.

However, you could decide to publish the design instead and that would grant you
first dibs to patent it for up a year. Publish on a popular website in any
format (text, illustrations, video) sufficient to describe the invention. This
is a potential boon for the open technology community.

Because, if you publish a design somewhere with enough web traffic visibility,
and you decide not to patent it after a year, then it becomes prior art – and
perhaps even public domain – although the drawings and exact specifications
might be copyright protected because they would've never patented.

I don't see why we couldn't build a Quirky equivalent of an open hardware
community. And Quirky doesn't really bother with patents too much, their actual
strength is being "first to market" with products, so by the time a competitor
would copy anything, the Quirky product is already well established. I've
learned this from the Quirky FAQ a few months back, when I did research seeking
an open technology alternative to speed manufacturing.

This scenario is nearing reality with makerspaces and 3D printing and a global
community of independent creators. Marketply will do all it can to help it reach
its tipping point.

Marino Hernandez
just a founder of Marketply

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