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Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust

Posted by Liquid 
Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 03:18PM
Going to keep this short.

I received a bit of news that caused me to do some speculating on corporations deciding to enter the market. I know some think they have been in the market since the beginning, but that is not so.

They have been in the Corporate market, but not the hobbiest market when it comes to 3D printing. From what Im seeing, they are finally seeing a market here, and will probably be entering into it really soon. Most likely, more than a few bigger corps have already laid out strategies.

Once they get any kind of foothold, that will be the beginning of the end for small start ups. The very thing that makes this fun. For me at least.

The worst time to address a problem is after it is a problem. So Im proposing a central patent holding group or trust. My feeling is anyone influential in the Hobbiest 3D market, should contact Adrian Bowyer and discuss something along those lines. Create some sort of group who's sole responsibility is to create and maintain patents on anything that is patentable 3D printing wise, and to also make sure that those patents are available to everyone.

Otherwise, anything that can be patented, WILL be patented... by corps who want to enter the hobbiest market. A lot of people may think that just because certain patents have already run out, this market is safe, its not. If corps had their way, they would own the internet. Hell at some point they might, but at least the tone has been set for the internet. I dont see the tone set yet for 3D printing.

Paranoid? Probably, but it might still be worth a thought.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 04:45PM
With the newly changed 'first to file' instead of the legacy 'first to invent' in the US, I think this is especially worrysome for individuals in the reprap community who previously may not have worried about their stuff being patented because they were verifiably the 'first to invent' and could easily have claimed prior art under the old system. Now, it's only protected for a year from first public disclosure before the big corps could easily swoop it and patent it with their big money.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 04:57PM
I really would like clarification about first to file. From what I have gathered all that first to file means in practice is that you can no longer keep private diaries for trade secrets and have entries qualify as prior art for greater than a year. If an invention is publically available then it still would qualify as prior art. To me it seems like the changes actually benefit communities that openly publish their work. Of course how can this be? We are talking about US laws and we all know those are written by big corporations for big corporations.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 05:14PM
I will be the first to admit, that it is beyond me. Surley we have patent attorney's in the 3D printing community.

This is one topic that Im sure can be viewed a number of ways by someone who isnt directly involved with patents.

I think my feeling is, that a free spirited approach to open source is awesome, and its my favorite part of involving myself, but if the corps decide to drop the hammer in some way or another in order to gain a foothold... they will. To the point that they will drive a person into the dirt with litigation, even if they know they wont win.

Some governing body, who is trustworthy, and setup specifically to keep innovation open to all, is needed, if 3D printing enthusiasts want to keep the current atmosphere.

Thats is why I referenced Adrian Bowyer, or a group vetted by him or his group.

Its much easier to anticipate something and thwart it vs trying to tackle a problem that has already come into fruitiion.

Like I said above, I am oblivious to patent law. I might even be totally off with my thinking as I am more of a tinkerer than a concept protector. But if there is a potential problem, it should be talked about.

Otherwise, it could be a situation where some of us are saying "How great it was" vs "How great this is" in the not too distant future.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 05:41PM
The legacy 'first to invent' in the US was what allowed submarine patents and many sillyness.
"First to file" simply means that patent are awarded with what is known at filing moment, but prior art is prior art and if you have eg laboratory filings proving you have priorness, you can either invalidate the patent or get an exemption from it.
US holders cannot get anymore the patent reattributed past the first year, but if you did not publish, too bad.
The main difference is that lawyers wont get rich anymore in priorness battles.

It is also what the rest of the world used and is imho much saner
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 06:31PM
It sounds like I may have misinterpreted it (and I hope I have), but if I did, then I'm not sure how to understand the 1 year rule. Let me throw out a couple hypotheticals to clear it up for me:

Situation A: Bob invents something Jan 1 2015 and publishes it in a blog, but never applies for a patent. Jacob files for a patent for something substantially similar in 2017.

Is the patent awarded to Jacob because Bob didn't patent it within his 1 year protection period? If the answer is yes, then what I was thinking above is still a worry, as the large corporations could swoop in on publicly disclosed invention that are more than a year old. If the answer is no, because Bob publicly disclosed it first, then the 1 year protection period is really a lifetime protection period, and no one can ever patent it because Bob published it first?

Situation B: Susan invents something Jan 1 2015 and publishes it in a blog, but doesn't apply for a patent. Jenny, oblivious to Susan's blog and invention, publishes her own substantially similar invention July 1 2015 in her own blog, and immediately applies for a patent. 5 years later, 2020, Susan (oblivious to Jenny's patent) decides to apply for a patent for her invention, but she is made aware of Jenny's now 5 year old patent.

Can Susan apply for re-assignment of the patent to herself, since Jenny's patent filing was within a year of Susan's original public disclosure (even though it is now 5 years old)? Or is Susan screwed since she didn't initially file for a patent within the first year following her public disclosure?

Again, if it's the latter, then there is plenty of bait for the large corporations to prey on, as reprappers continue to make innovations but fail to apply for a patent within a 1 year time frame.

Situation C: Same as Situation B, except December 1 2015 (within a year of her original public disclosure, but after Jenny had applied for the patent) Susan applies for the patent.

I assume that this is the type of situation where the automatic 1 year protection is intended to come into play, and I assume Susan is awarded/reassigned the patent, because she publicly disclosed it first, and filed within a year. Am I right?

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2013 06:57PM by maddox.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 06:50PM

As a php developer, I have to inject a sub question. What constitutes as an actual publishing? I for one know how easy it is to change a blog's dates. Its very easy to make a blog post look less than a year old, yet older than someone elses blog post.

I am not asking this to bring up the validity of blog posts, but more to ask, what constitutes as a verifiable publishing?

This should be clarified, so those that are truly innovative can use that resource for their own protection, or the communities protection if they so choose.


I think the discussion should include exactly where the community stands as far as protection also. From what I gather, once a patent has expired, another patent can not be granted for the same thing. So that is good for the basic 3D printing tech so far.

A clarification of sorts. Is there a group set to represent hobbiest 3D printing as it exists today? Is it needed? If something exists, does it have weight behind it for litigation? If it doesnt exist, who would it be comprised of?
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 07:08PM
While I think the cause is noble, unless one is a patent attorney themselves (or wealthy enough to hire a patent attorney for the interest of others), and willing to donate their time/knowledge, it seems that patent law and litigation will only serve to protect self-interest. Meaning that I personally don't think there's a way to apply for patents and litigate any infringement cheaply enough as a collectively budget-minded group, without monetary incentive. Patents have to be written very specifically to be enforceable, and they are very costly to protect. There's a reason patent attorneys are very highly paid, and I think it will be very difficult to find a viable way around the inherent cost of such a proposition.

But don't let my pessimism stop you from trying!smiling smiley
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 07:25PM
Like I said above, its beyond me and my resources entirely. However I thought I should post what I was thinking, however incorrect it may be or may not end up being.

My initial thought is that it would have to be similar to [www.eff.org]

EFF is a donor-supported membership organization working to protect fundamental rights regardless of technology

I agree with your statement 100% also.

Anyways, if nothing comes of it, it would still be nice to get a complete understanding of where 3D printing stands, where its future is. Even if it isnt laid out in this post.

Maybe it already is laid out entirely somewhere, I have done my best to find something like that, so please excuse this post if something like that already exists.

All in all, to me it is interesting thought, regardless of any outcomes.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 07:48PM
Maddox I'm not a lawyer but from what i understand:

A : obvious prior art : not patentable. Even if the patent is awarded, it will be declared invalid in courts. Nobody hold patent

B: No. The one year grace period is to settle priorness disputes, that is all. But the patent becomes invalid if there is prior art.

C = B in the whole world except US. In the US, patent can be reassigned. If not, priorness rule apply and patent is invalid or Susan can get an exception.

Once again, I'm not a lawyer and the little I know is about EU patents.

Now, a blog publishing is not enough in the EU, the publisher or certificator must be a third party, or leave a material trace that is dateable. That is why R&D teams lab notebooks were stamped every trimester at the townhouse in one of my prior jobs.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 08, 2013 09:54PM
maddox Wrote:
> costly to protect. There's a reason patent
> attorneys are very highly paid, and I think it
> will be very difficult to find a viable way around
> the inherent cost of such a proposition.

Patents are bullying. The best way to deal with a bully is to punch back. It really would not be very smart for a company to attempt to use innovation as a weapon against communities filled with innovators. Piss the wrong innovators off and the company might soon find that their biggest competitor is providing the legal funding for a retaliation patent.

Anyway, why would a big company bother with an infringement case when they can just buy the small company outright? It's a much cheaper and time honored way of eliminating competition.
Re: Centralized/De-Centralized Patent Holding Trust
June 09, 2013 04:32AM
billyzelsnack Wrote:
> Patents are bullying.

That is true. The fact that a $billion company, Apple, sues another $billion company, Samsung, who is also one of its key suppliers, suggest that no-one is safe.

There seems to be an old-fashioned naive belief that patents somehow protect genuine inventors from big business, and patents are only awarded for truly innovative ideas to deserving inventors. This belief seems to be based on mythology and a lack of understanding of how the modern patent system is used.

In practice, the patent system is used as a tool by big business to leverage their existing market share. Patents are claimed like a deep sea trawler - every feature however trivial or obvious is scooped up and put through the system. Patent offices pretty much patent anything that isn't an exact copy of an existing patent. Patent offices, and patent officers, get funding from patent fees, so there is little incentive to reject patent claims.

Setting up a patent trust might seem like a good idea, but I'm not sure how practical it would be. It seems like it would end up transferring most of the money into the hands of lawyers, and worse legitimizing a bad system. I think I would support an organisation that campaigned for reform of the system, but otherwise I think it is playing a game that can't be won, unless you have $millions to spare.
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