[Discuss] GE and Quirky partnering

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 17 18:29:24 UTC 2013

>  You can't patent or protect ideas themselves

Just to be clear, a patent literally means ownership of an idea. If you are
granted a patent then you have sole rights to use the described idea for a
certain period of time. This can be contrasted against copyright, which
doesn't protect ideas, but only protects records. You get copyright
protection as soon as you fix a record into a medium (write it, draw it,
etc) which prevents anyone else from owning that record, but not from using
the idea.

For example, a blueprint of a machine could have copyright protection, but
not patent protection, while the machine itself could have patent
protection, but not copyright protection. If someone makes a copy of the
blueprint they violate the copyright. If someone builds a copy of the
machine they violate the patent.

It is possible to get around copyright protection by creating your own
record. If someone looks at the blueprint, and draws their own version of
it, then they didn't violate the copyright. It is possible to get around
patent protection by coming up with a new way to do the same thing. If
someone looks at the machine, and builds a machine that does the same thing
in a different way, they didn't violate the patent.

> 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.

Yeah, but it's worth pointing out that we're is still different in that US
patent law forbids any infringement at all, even non-commercial use.

> 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.

I'm looking forward to this possibility being exploited more and more in
the future. Just like copyleft used copyright law to forbid proprietary
work, it is possible to use patent law to forbid patenting of ideas. Since
the open technology community is going to move faster than the closed
companies, it's important that the open work doesn't get shut down by
someone tagging along and tying up all of the great ideas in litigation

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