from the Out-in-the-Open dept.
Thanks to coverage in Salon.com, and discussion on Slashdot.org — Foresightís new project to protect open source from patents — has been announced a bit ahead of schedule.
The Salon article ("Patents are your friends," by Damien Cave; 21 March 2001) sums things up pretty well:
"The Foresight Institute, a nonprofit nanotechnology think tank, will announce later this month that it is forming an alliance with IP.com, a Rochester, N.Y., start-up dedicated to protecting intellectual property through the publication of new ideas. Together . . . the pair will give open-source programmers and projects the chance to work within the patent system even as they strive to overturn it."
Read more for details . . .
You can find the details of the Foresight Open Source Disclosure Project on the Foresight website.
The Salon article gives a good summary of the purpose of the project:
"Specifically, the joint venture will give open-source and free-software developers the chance to 'defensively publish', [and] place their innovations in a searchable software database. Since IP.com has already convinced the U.S. and European patent offices to check its database before issuing patents, inventors will be assured that patent examiners will see innovations that might otherwise be lost to unseen Web pages or college papers.
"Still, experts say that IP.com and Foresight aren't just setting a precedent for cooperation among hostile forces. They're also offering open-source innovations more protection than they've ever had before. By creating a central, legally strong database that's cheap enough to be accessible to all, [Foresight and IP.com] have given independent programmers the chance to 'write a patent claim without getting a patent' "
"Intellectual property has typically been about cornering things off," says Robin Gross, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting free speech on the Web. "But this is about using the law to make technology free, open and available. It's the open-source community taking the intellectual property laws and making them work to their own advantage."