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Putting Ideas And Inventions Into The Public Domain
Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 @ 21:31:28 EDT by vlad

Legal from the an-idea-who's-time-has-come dept

A few months back, we wondered why it was so difficult to opt out of copyright. Soon after that, Creative Commons added its CC0 license, which gets you a long way towards putting your content in the public domain (there are a few issues related to it, but it's better than nothing). With patents, the issue isn't quite the same. With copyright, you're automatically given a copyright on creative works. Obviously, that's not the case with patents. However, people have wondered how they can put their invention in the public domain, such that (a) others can benefit from it and (b) it prevents others from patenting it at a later date...

Tragically, the US Patent Office tends to look pretty narrowly at what counts as prior art and requires that the information be "published," (something that is also defined very narrowly) so simply declaring an invention to be in the public domain isn't always good enough to prevent others from making a claim on it.

I was thinking about the Slashdot post above for a bit, wondering if it was worth writing this post up, when someone else pointed out that some folks have now set up Public Domain Ideas, a wiki designed for just this purpose: to put your ideas into the public domain by publishing them in that wiki. There have been some efforts in the past to create a database of obviousness, but that's pretty difficult. The big problem with obvious ideas is that they're often so obvious, no one even thinks to put them down, until it's too late, and someone has patented an "invention" based on that idea. But the idea of a wiki for public domain ideas is much more interesting -- if people really do decide to make use of it -- and if the Patent Office recognizes it as a source of published inventions for prior art. In the meantime, if you've got some good ideas to share, why not check it out?

Source: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090417/1923324548.shtml
Via http://www.keelynet.com/#whatsnew

 
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