Kia ora koutou
David, I was curious about this myself, so I asked Richard Stallman
during the Q&A after his session on software patents. Here's what I
learned from that, and further research.
A patent can only be granted for an invention that is both non-obvious
and original. The originality test is failed if there is "prior art"
which publicly describes the invention, or something so similar to it
that the new design is an obvious variant of that described in the
So if you want to "open source" your hardware design, all you actually
have to do is publish documentation of it on a publicly-accessible
website (preferably under a CreativeCommons license ;), like
Appropedia.org, or opensourceecology.org. That description then
becomes "prior art", which will invalidate any patent on your
Having said that, I think there is value in standardising "open
hardware" license(s) and logo(s), just as standard licenses and logos
have emerged for free code/ open source software, so that potential
users know at a glance what conditions apply to using an "open"
design, or a product based on it. This may become more important when
it comes to getting designs manufactured by businesses, as they are
more conservative about risk, and will want to be sure they're not
going to end up liable for patent violation.
I'd be very keen to have a look at your solar designs sometime.
He mihi nui
On 16 October 2012 14:11, David Quinn <david.audaci...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Does anyone have any experience open sourcing a hardware platform?
> We're working an interesting solar hot water panel design and are keen to
> hack the traditional patent IP mess and business models to get the design
> into the hands of makers globally … and are some ways down this track.
"Geeks are those who partake in our culture."
"Uncomfortable alliances are not just necessary; they reflect and
speak to the tremendous possibility of our political moment."
- Harmony Goldberg and Joshua Kahn Russell
"Both Marxists and Chicago-school libertarian economists can agree
that free software is the best model."
- Keith C Curtis