from the sorry,-that-idea-is-taken dept.
ChrisPhoenix writes "In many technologies of nanotech, including software, patents are frequently used anticompetitively. One solution is to make ideas and technologies publicly available. Open Source is doing this for software. However, more is needed to prevent bad patents from being issued in the first place.
Foresight is thinking of working with IP.com and Santa Clara University Law School to provide a way to inexpensively publish open-sourced technologies where the patent office will see them, in order to clearly establish prior art.
We are also planning one or two IP conferences to be held early next year."
[Read More… for the details.] Many people working on software and other technologies significant for nanotech would like to see their ideas be free for public use. This is the goal of the Open Source software movement. However, simply using an invention, or even publishing it, is not enough to prevent someone else patenting it. The patent may even be valid, if you can't prove that the idea was publicly available before the filing of the patent application.
IP.com was created to allow publication of intellectual property in a way that will have legal significance for the patent system. A document submitted to IP.com becomes part of the text-searchable database that will be available to the world's patent office examiners to help them conduct prior art searches to prevent bad patents from issuing. They also make sure to publish (on paper!) in a way that fulfills the legal requirements for public availability. In short, they do exactly what we need. We are currently investigating a pricing structure and technology that will allow economical submission of many small related disclosures from a portal website. I've posted their brochure (pdf format) on my website.
Some faculty at Santa Clara University Law School are interested in helping to prevent bad patents. The Law School is active and respected in technology-related IP issues. They could provide reputation, publicity, and legal research to a web portal through which Open Source IP could be added to IP.com's database. This would also get their feet wet in Open Source and nanotech.
People at Foresight, SCU, and IP.com have all expressed interest in holding an IP conference with business and government involvement. This would be held early in 2001 and would probably be a joint effort between the three organizations, and possibly including the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Foresight might hold a smaller, informal meeting first, to get our story straight so that we can communicate efficiently with those who don't yet understand the issues.
In addition to comments on the above, we need feedback on the following questions:
Imagine a web site where you could post intellectual property to any of several open documents, simply by typing it into a browser window, and it would automatically be Open Sourced and prior-arted. Would you use this for software algorithms? Nanotech ideas or technologies?
If this grew into a database of algorithms and/or technologies, would you search it? What would make it useful to you?
Does anyone know anything about Software Patent Institute, www.spi.org? Is there anything we can learn from what they've done?
Who would you like to see at an IP conference? What issues are most important? What work has been published that we can build on? What are likely points of conflict or miscommunication between business, government, and Open people?