Ridiculous: Gov’t Contractor Copies Open Source 3D Printing Concept… And Patents It

Clara D. Flaherty

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from the locking-up-the-commons dept

We have been chatting about the importance of patent excellent, and one of the details created in our podcast dialogue, was that many businesses felt the regrettable require to patent one thing just to stay clear of possessing somebody else patent it later on and create complications. A single factor we didn’t actually get to talk about about that is that this in fact tends to make it ridiculously tough for any venture that wishes to do some thing progressive and donate it to the earth, without the need of patents. Because an individual else could just arrive along and patent it by themselves.

That appears to be the condition that has now took place to Hangprinter. Hangprinter is a fascinating venture to build an open up source frameless 3D printing setup that actually hangs in the air and is in a position to develop a lot larger sized items than a regular 3D printer. From the starting, the idea at the rear of Hangprinter, from its creator, Torbjørn Ludvigsen, was to make it open up source and freely out there for anybody to make use of it.

And, of program, faster or later, someone took edge of that. UT-Battelle, a non-profit joint venture set up by the College of Tennessee and the Battelle Institute to operate the Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory, seemingly decided to move in and in essence patent the core tips of the Hangprinter. Before this yr, they had been awarded US Patent 11,230,032 for a “cable-driven additive producing method.”

Apart from that, as Ludvigsen points out, there is a ridiculous total of prior art on basically anything in the UT-Battelle patent, not just from Hangprinter, but from some other assignments as perfectly. Ludvigsen walks action by step by means of how the patent drawings practically feel like they had been drawn from general public illustrations or photos of Hangprinter. For example, right here is an picture from 2017 of the creators performing on Hangprinter:

And listed here is an graphic from the patent filed a 12 months afterwards:

Or, below was an graphic of the Hangprinter team constructing a tower with their Hangprinter, despatched out in early 2017:

And here is an graphic in the patent of a printer constructing a structure (in the patent scenario, it appears like a replica of the Coliseum in Rome.

Possibly way, it’s fairly clearly the same simple issue. But now it’s underneath patent, even as the creators experimented with to make this open and no cost to the earth.

The Hangprinter group has launched a GoFundMe to attempt to problem the patent, but it is an expensive method. As they take note, this is an unfortunate convert of events:

With the patent in area, we’d have to fork out license service fees to a little minority, gatekeepers of the stolen crucial technologies. Expansion and further more development of Hangprinters will not come about unless the gatekeepers treatment to let it. What must have turn into a bountiful forest alternatively becomes a solitary bonsai tree in a walled back garden.

This is, but once more, the regrettable final result in a environment exactly where the default assumption is that every single thought should be “owned” by an individual, and wherever the notion of a general public area or commons is not even viewed as. Here we have folks who tried using to contribute one thing excellent and useful to the planet to make it a much better place… and now they have to offer with this mess wherever a government contractor (even a non-gain a single) has efficiently locked up the commons and blocked further innovation unless of course the open supply creators can scrounge collectively tens of hundreds of pounds to combat it.

That’s not superior for any one.

Filed Under: 3d printing, commons, hangprinter, open up source, patents, rep rap, torbjorn ludvigsen

Companies: ut-battelle

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