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Commercial use of RepRap ideas

Posted by Lykle 
Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 10:48AM
Hi All,

This is a matter that has come up in a different discussion, but I felt it was relevant and important enough to merit its own post.

Is it OK to sell RepRap developed ideas for a profit? If the answer is, sometimes, where is the limit, boundary or borderline? When is it OK and when is it wrong?

For instance, most of the current commercial printers, if not all, use concepts, ideas and sometimes parts developed in the open source/ open hardware community. We hope to sell a printer soon with RepRap firmware on a Duet WiFi, for instance.

So why is that OK, while other instances are seen as bad, As an example, the guy that was selling Thingiverse designs on eBay. (Not OK, I agree. Legal, but wrong)

My personal opinion is that the Open community, be it RepRap, Drupal, or any other open source/hardware is the incubator of new ideas. It is where innovation starts, new ideas bubble up and get developed. Eventually those ideas turn into products that can and are sold. That is the normal way things go. I am also a firm believer in the fact that if the Personal Factory, or every house a 3d printer, is to come true, there comes a point where the products need to become trouble free, faultless and plug and play. This is one of my personal goals when Brian and I set up Zesty Technology. Am I wrong to think this, to have the belief that the turning point is coming and I want to push it along?

So, where is the limit? What are the parameters?


Co-creator of the Zesty Nimble, worlds lightest Direct Drive extruder.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 01:15PM
I'm not a lawyer.

My take on the subject: You need to give credit to the creator, and the license can't have 'non-commercial' in it. For open source, you have make the source code available. It's always a good idea to ask the creator, if possible.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 01:42PM
best ask bre petis on that one

Check my rubbish blog for my prusa i3

up and running
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 02:13PM
best ask bre petis on that one

... you should use the correct smiley's with that eye rolling smiley sad smiley moody smiley angry smiley hot smiley

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 02:22PM
You mean Bre Pettis perhaps?
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 02:31PM
... it's more the story behind Makerbot -- founded by Zacharias Smith (the developer of the first RepRap-electronis) and his (then) friend Bre Pettis, what caused many troubles and misbehaves eye rolling smiley

And by the way, Thingiverse was started by Makerbot too ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 08:23PM

If a design is not released as open source, whether related to the reprap community or not, then what?

If a license agreement is made with the designer of that non open item in relationship to a new product shouldn't that be sufficient?

We don't have any plans to try and patent our designs, especially ones derived of prior work, nor would be be pissed off if someone else tried to innovate upon our own works in this realm.


Co-creator of the Zesty Nimble, worlds lightest direct drive extruder.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 11, 2016 08:59PM
Was the other discussion prompted by this post
i'd be interested to know who's shoulders or toes I'm standing on,
who should get the credit for the work that i'm using, maybe a list could be drawn up.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2016 05:18AM by MechaBits.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 05:01PM
i don't understand why this post is been created and is nothing the with article MechaBits its to do with the zesty nimble and the flex3drive and how similar it is and they've said something about a license, and they are fishing out for advice how it stands, basically innovated the flex3drive to suit their needs because they want a extruder that fits the chimera hotend and now after ten months of their own money and hard work they thought well just innovate an existing drive system adding a breech 30:1 gearing which I would imagine you probably had to do that with the gearing make it smaller, but yeah they going make injection moulded ones so kickstarting it to raise money, and as a early bird flex3drive and own of another generation, don't think it's morally right, because what stops myself doing the exact same nothing, and all the input others have put in, but hey what do I know.

Check my rubbish blog for my prusa i3

up and running
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 05:48PM
Chris33 (and anyone else) - Please stop posting about Flex3Drive and nimble in the same sentence - There is an agreement in place and these guys are accusing me of prompting you and others to post (which I am not doing). They have threatened legal action and continue to hold the threat of legal action against me. Please delete your post, so I can edit mine away. You are doing me harm.

- edited for legal reasons -

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2016 10:32PM by Mutley3D.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 06:49PM

MechaBits was likely not aware of the topic that started this discussion, and I had not yet had time to reply to his query.

In response to Mutley's post I've clearly said to him that it is not my intent to set lawyers on him, the only ones that win in that case are the lawyers.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 07:07PM
In response to Brians post - I have asked him to clearly state in no uncertain terms that he wont deliberately misinterpret or misrepresent to lawyers the purpose of that clause

- edited for legal resaons -

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2016 10:33PM by Mutley3D.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 07:17PM
Mutley, we have an agreement in place which was written by yourself, we have adhered to this agreement.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 07:22PM
Brian, you have deliberately taken out of context the clause in question that was inserted for your assurance. Yes I wrote the agreement based on the lengthy discussions we had. It was my error in judgement to act in good faith and keep the cost of our agreement as low as possible for your benefit by not getting a lawyer to review it. I perhaps made an error in placing my trust in you, but hopefully this is all just a misunderstanding.

edited for LR -

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2016 10:35PM by Mutley3D.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 07:24PM
@Mutley, we have an agreement in place which was written by yourself, we have adhered to this agreement. Your current actions are hostile and not in line with this agreement, I trust you will honor the agreement moving forward.

I have no further comment to make on this topic as we want to focus on making and excellent product.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2016 07:28PM by briangilbert.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 10:14PM
apologies to wider community if this is tl/dr but I have had to make sure I was crystal clear in this post for legal reasons.

I have and continue to honour the agreement. I am an honourable individual, as anyone that knows me will vouch (including yourselves i hope). Personal experience has shown me people can try to abuse that nature. I have experienced how such people can act in a very underhanded manner by twisting and distorting facts, plotting and scheming, in order to destroy others and their livelihoods to take over a "thing" of value, for their own commercial/monetary gain. They will do so without care for the destruction of the livelihoods of those that gave them the "thing" of value in the first place. Nor will they care for the subsequent damage that can cause to health and individual circumstance. (I reference this)

You bought and reverse engineered a 2nd generation Flex3Drive and put your own thumbprint on it. Awesome! You are asking to community to pay for the injection mould tools to support that. Fantastic. You approached me in the first instance because this was your intention. I cant express how much I respected that. Kudos to you.

Dont destroy that kudos by hiding facts or presenting misleading information in your marketing as it may work against you.

Our agreement does not include the provision for you to make misleading inventive claim over some of the features in your unit as your own invention/innovation and failing to clarify that you did actually buy a Flex3Drive that contained the majority of the innovations you are claiming, without any attribution. This could be construed as miselading people, even fraud if you are using it as a basis to create financial gain.

It is not my responsibility to clarify accurately or truthfully any comparisons others will inevitably make from your postings. If I did you might construe I am acting against you. It may also reflect badly upon me if I were to do so. It is your responsibility to act with honour and integrity, customers are not fools!

On the flip side, when comparisons are made, and you (naturally) claim yours is better due to feature A B or C, which feature A B or C might be adopted from the Flex3Drive then by rights to protect my own commercial interests (and some could say my legal duty) is that I should step in and clarify. If I did this, again you may view this as "acting against you". As you have seen, I have refrained from doing so thus far.

Frankly I dont care of these comparisons or attributions myself. I am comfortable and quietly proud in the fact that I "pioneered" this form of extruder and have kept some of my extruder and printer construction innovations "up my sleeve" to keep my powder dry. Afterall I am building a business aswell, and it is based on leading innovations in its field. Our agreement is not a tool for you to create a scenario where you act against me, or have an overhanging legal threat against me. Marketplace competition is fair game. This place thrives on innovations, to help people make better.

The comparisons of others should have been addressed by Lykle and yourself factually, and perhaps people may have been more comfortable and respecting of your efforts.

I hope this post and its perspective stands you in good stead (instead of being viewed as acting against you which is not the intention), apologies if it was long winded, I wish you luck with your kickstarter, and wish both you and Lykle well and success in your 3d printing endeavours.

I will make no further comment on this matter.

(PS. I have not sought legal advice on this post, so if you feel there is a problem with it or feel it acts against you, please contact me directly and I will be happy to correct any inncuracies without any delay)

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2016 11:09PM by Mutley3D.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 11:13PM
Ok I'm sort of upto speed...

Time & technology waits for no man, I blame the internet...without which no one would find the idea to copy, if they did you would never know.

Hopefully everyone will be rewarded for their efforts...Good Luck to all involved.

Now where did I put my dremel, I have a bondtech cannibalize... only joking

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/2016 12:43AM by MechaBits.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 12, 2016 11:52PM

I am very respectful of what the Zesty guys did in approaching me, and really cant speak ill of them in this respect. Whilst I cant/wont divulge details there is not any issue with having to wait for royalty style payments, A modest deal was agreed and completed. I prefer the quiet life.

Possibly there is an angle coming that because my designs are not or were not released under the auspice of a community based policy (which is as we all know is commercially unsound - 3d printing/reprap isnt software), and because they bought the flex3drive model that had not been "open sourced" at the time of purchase, they perhaps felt it was acceptable to claim the innovations as their own. Perhaps what they didnt account for was that many others have these extruders already, and more. That was not my call.

My only reasons for not yet having full web release is purely because of the work volume, objectives and targets, and wanting to reach them before the new site goes live. If someone asks me for the files, I let them have them.

I have absolutley no issue whatsoever with market competition. Bring it on. But online articles claiming it was their invention, repeated statements of features without attribution or plain misleading statements...I didnt make that bed. In fact I was trying on a number of occassions to advise them that they really do need to be a bit more truthful to avoid the comparisons, but this advice was seeminly taken suspiciously, and point blank refused.

I was asking and advising them to correct / modify their actions, and remove this ever present threat that was in part, preventing me making my own corrections in case they saw any comment I made as acting against them. I have made every reasonable effort to do so and I simply just felt as though I had no other option.

If their marketing tactics back fire on them, that is down to their decision making, I am just aware that people all to often like to look to others for blame.

Regarding patents - many view them as a mechanism to monopolise an idea. My own personal view is that it can be a mechanism in whichh ever way it is used, to prevent people stopping you from making your own items. It also does not mean one has to see a patent application through to its end, as it can be a fully legal way of making sure something is NOT patented by abandining the application.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 13, 2016 12:22AM

Thanks for your clarification, I appreciate your input.


We paid the sum that Mutley3D asked, and signed the agreement that he worded.

I think this makes it fundamentally different to your experience with the Jayhawk, though I don't know that story. I am however sorry you had to go through that.

I thought that having mentioned license with Mutley3D in our initial postings showed that we've not hiding the lineage of the Nimble, perhaps other disagree.. That we approached Jason to license it in advance of launching anything I hope shows we wanted to do the right thing with regard to giving back for his prior work.

With regard to innovation, the meaning is as follows:

make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

In what has been shown to date the largest visible innovation is the reduction in size/weight and unhindered filament path when loading, however we are still working on things that only Lykle and myself have seen.

Mutley3d and Zesty Technology are both just trying to make high quality products, we both agree that competition is healthy and betters the landscape in general.

On me:
If do further research on me you will see the magnitude of contributions I make to Drupal project that are open source and unfunded; in top 11th percentile of over 3000 contributors by commit mentions to Drupal 8 core, onboarded over 2500 first time contributors over the last few years to get involved with Drupal core development. develop or co-maintain over 70 contrib modules on Drupal.org, Melbourne Drupal Community Lead since 2009, Mentor at free monthly events since 2010, Organiser of at least 5 large drupal conferences/events in the past 4 years.

I would appreciate if you could please remove the information about Realityloop (there is no connection between it and Zesty other than me) and my personal information apart from my personal Twitter account @briangilbert_.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 13, 2016 12:48AM
Hi Guys,

To add to that.

1. This post was created because of a real desire to understand better what is and isn't acceptable or OK to this group. It started because of the discussion about Flex3drive and Nimble, partly because of the 3ders post. I just want to understand. This discussion has clarified some of it, but I would like to continue the discussion.
2. I never claimed I (or we) invented the flexible drive. The draft we saw for the newspaper article talked about developed and device, not invention. But she knows me and has always called me the inventor (in fact, the mad inventor that lives in the mountains) because of all the other stuff I have done. Firefloat, the Swift Flyer, etc.(OK, I had only 1 patent to my name, not as many as Jason.) I did not correct the article after it was published. Hubris, probably. I apologise.
3. Attribution. As far as I understand it, one of the perks of having an agreement, is the fact that we do not have to place attribution. Not that I have any issue against it, when anybody asks, I always explain that it was an existing idea and we developed it further. If putting that statement on our website will make this anger go away, I would gladly discuss it with Brian. According to the agreement we were not allowed to use the Flex3drive name.
4. Innovation. Yes, I still firmly believe that we pushed it further along. Added features that were not there to begin with. I will grant you, it is not as innovative a step as using the flexible drive cable for an extruder. It still adds new features.
5. Injection molding. Yes, for this version of the flexible drive extruder to work it will need to be injection molded. That is a bitch as the design process is a hell of a lot more complex and it is a lot more expensive. Nevertheless, we need it for this design. So we have no choice but to go to Kickstarter. Kickstarter creates its own set of problems, so it was a tough decision.
6. 30:1 is chosen for technical reasons, not just because we wanted it smaller. 40:1 would fit in roughly the same envelope and with only little increased weight.

OK, so lessons learned.
Attribution is important. No matter what the type of relationship.
Is that the most important thing when talking about commercial use of ideas?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/2016 12:52AM by Lykle.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 13, 2016 01:05AM
it helps all parties enjoy a little limelight, put a little food on the table, move forward together with ease not to be sitting around with bad feelings of being ripped off...worth its weight in gold

what really bugs me is if one side makes a killing and leaves the otherside out in the cold resorting to lawyers.
The guy that ripped my idea was a lawyer also.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 13, 2016 01:10AM
I agree with that.

Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 15, 2016 05:53AM
Is this a fair patent?

*** EDIT link ***

and does it adversely effect the reprap community?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2016 06:32AM by MechaBits.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 18, 2016 09:38AM
Personally I don't think it is a fair patent.
It is too close to David's IR sensor to be ok.
But, this is in my opinion and I am certainly not a Patent lawyer. Besides, all the knowledge I have about patents applies to the European patents and not the US version.

Nevertheless, prior art is prior art and the IR sensor has been sold in the US already.

Lykle .
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 19, 2016 08:57PM
If you read that article, the patent is on the build platform and it's ability to auto level itself. It appears they are using an IR sensor setup to determine the bed position, but it appears the patent is on the bed platform and not the IR sensor specifically.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 20, 2016 02:11AM
Also it's for using a specific sort of IR sensor with one emitter surrounded by several phototransistors.

Large delta printer [miscsolutions.wordpress.com], E3D tool changer, Robotdigg SCARA printer, Crane Quad and Ormerod

Disclosure: I design Duet electronics and work on RepRapFirmware, [duet3d.com].
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 20, 2016 01:03PM
"Bed leveling itself" sounds like the 3 point (3 screw) bed leveling that some want to implement soon. Is that gonna be a problem?
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
September 20, 2016 05:36PM
I am not a lawyer, but my guess would depend on what type of sensor they use (ie: if it's not an IR sensor with 3 or more IR detectors), and what type of actuators they use (ie: if it's not 2 stepper motors with threaded shafts) would depend if the patent even applied. That would also assume the code behind it did not match anything listed in the patent.
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
October 20, 2016 09:44AM
Anyway you're gonna need smbd to develop your project. Haven't thought about that?
Re: Commercial use of RepRap ideas
October 20, 2016 12:05PM
Is it OK to sell RepRap developed ideas for a profit? If the answer is, sometimes, where is the limit, boundary or borderline? When is it OK and when is it wrong?

It depends on the terms of the open source license used, and, if the "reprap developed ideas" were actually published. This is a complex area, so I'll try to break it down.


First, somebody WRITES DOWN an idea. They publish it. The author (or specified copyright holder) then has a copyright on that particular arrangement of words (which might be saleable, but only if the copyright holder agrees).

The exact terms of it being "open source" are the key. True Open Source is free for anybdy to use... but is NOT free for anybody to patent,

Now, Bre Pettis and similar might disagree, but if a patent is written up as too similar to a published article (copyright) then it can be challenged as an infringement of copyright. This is unlikely to succeed though.

The snag with a patent challenge, as opposed to the Mafia Method (hiring a hitman) is that both parties have to agree to a patent issuing organization's decision. They can decide either way... and they are very unlikely to revoke an existing patent without some very solid evidence.

If the patent was worded totally differently to the original, but still covers it, then such an arbitration would always decide in favour of the patent holder.


Rather than covering a whole method or technology area like a patent, instead somebody can patent a specific DESIGN. That is individual to their particular creation.

Strikes me that the Mecha is a design patent, not a method patent. And they paid their fees for protection (see what I mean about Mafia?) so copying their specific design is unlawful.


Unlike a patent, which nearly always has a lifespan of 20 years (rarely are extensions granted), a trademark can go on for ever - but the fees are large. About $20,000 per year. For instance, the HPGL communication method is a TRADEMARKED innovation, which is why it is very unwise to sell plotters which interpret HPGL without a license from HP.


Really, if an idea is released as "Open Source", it should not be patentable. The snag is, there isn't a repository of "Open Source" ideas, published, to prevent people patenting "Open Source" concepts by means of showing copyright infringement. Which is dodgy anyway, as just by changing the wording, a predatory Pettis like creature can steal and patent the idea anyway. However, they would have a lot of trouble in court if they tried to ENFORCE the patent, as it could be shown that their idea was not original. Mostly they would issue nasty lawyers letters threatening people - paper tigers, they would get iced in court if faced with solid evidence in written form.

A simpler method is to patent an idea, then let the patent expire if you REALLY want to prevent people from patenting it. But that costs a few hundred dollars, and most inventors, being poor, don't go that route.

Finally, once an idea HAS been firmly fixed as "Open Source", then it's usage depends on the exact terms of the Open Source License invoked. GNU Open Source licenses come in different flavours, but there is nothing to stop you writing your own.

That is my understanding of this very complex area.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/2016 12:20PM by DragonFire.
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