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

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from the locking-up-the-commons dept

We’ve been speaking about the relevance of patent high quality, and one particular of the factors produced in our podcast dialogue, was that numerous companies felt the unlucky require to patent anything just to prevent having somebody else patent it later on and develop complications. A person issue we did not actually get to discuss about that is that this truly tends to make it ridiculously challenging for any project that wishes to do a little something revolutionary and donate it to the planet, with out patents. Simply because someone else could just occur along and patent it themselves.

That seems to be the problem that has now happened to Hangprinter. Hangprinter is a intriguing job to build an open source frameless 3D printing setup that basically hangs in the air and is able to construct substantially larger matters than a common 3D printer. From the commencing, the concept behind Hangprinter, from its creator, Torbjørn Ludvigsen, was to make it open source and freely obtainable for any one to make use of it.

And, of study course, sooner or later, someone took benefit of that. UT-Battelle, a non-earnings joint venture established up by the University of Tennessee and the Battelle Institute to run the Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory, evidently decided to action in and fundamentally patent the main concepts of the Hangprinter. Earlier this 12 months, they were being awarded US Patent 11,230,032 for a “cable-driven additive manufacturing technique.”

Besides that, as Ludvigsen factors out, there is a preposterous amount of prior art on mainly every thing in the UT-Battelle patent, not just from Hangprinter, but from some other tasks as very well. Ludvigsen walks move by phase by means of how the patent drawings just about seem to be like they had been drawn from general public illustrations or photos of Hangprinter. For illustration, right here is an impression from 2017 of the creators working on Hangprinter:

And below is an graphic from the patent filed a calendar year afterwards:

Or, below was an picture of the Hangprinter workforce creating a tower with their Hangprinter, sent out in early 2017:

And here is an image in the patent of a printer building a composition (in the patent situation, it looks like a reproduction of the Coliseum in Rome.

Both way, it’s fairly obviously the similar primary detail. But now it is underneath patent, even as the creators tried to make this open and absolutely free to the entire world.

The Hangprinter staff has introduced a GoFundMe to test to obstacle the patent, but it’s an high-priced course of action. As they note, this is an unfortunate turn of situations:

With the patent in place, we’d have to pay license costs to a tiny minority, gatekeepers of the stolen important technology. Growth and more progress of Hangprinters will not take place except if the gatekeepers care to permit it. What should really have turn into a bountiful forest instead turns into a single bonsai tree in a walled backyard.

This is, nonetheless once again, the unlucky result in a world where by the default assumption is that each and every concept will have to be “owned” by anyone, and exactly where the plan of a public domain or commons is not even deemed. Listed here we have people who tried using to add some thing fantastic and practical to the environment to make it a greater place… and now they have to offer with this mess exactly where a governing administration contractor (even a non-financial gain a person) has successfully locked up the commons and blocked even further innovation unless of course the open up source creators can scrounge together tens of countless numbers of dollars to struggle it.

That is not good for any individual.

Submitted Under: 3d printing, commons, hangprinter, open up supply, patents, rep rap, torbjorn ludvigsen

Companies: ut-battelle

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