Bouncing these idea’s off my flatmate, who’s another member of the London Hackspace, he asked me what the advantages would be?
Patent’s act as a 20 year lock-out, where you are prevented from using the detailed technique’s without recompensing the patent holder or licensing the patent.
It tends to mean that good idea’s don’t spread, because they’re commercially locked down. Look at the blossoming that happened with steam engines after Stephenson’s patents expired. Look at the renaissance that’s happening right now, with 3d-printing, now that the earliest patents have expired.
An unregistered Community Design only lasts for 3 years from first publication, after which it expires. A Registered Community Design, initially lasts 5 years, with renewal dates every 5 years, up till 25 years, after which it’s in the public domain.
Using Registered Community Design with GPL-like licensing conditions, would mean that it would be locked open for that length of time. Add in downstream re-licensing for the people buying the devices, and mandatory GPL-like licensing of extensions of designs based on the original designs, and you’d have a hardware commons that would, in theory, be impossible to legally enclose, without destroying the functionality of the existing legal framework.
It would need to be legally water-tight, and i don’t know anyone who specialises in this branch of law. I’m chasing colleagues of colleagues who work in this field, but if other Edgeryders can ask anyone in their networks who might be able to help, we’d be able to get this problem solved more quickly.
Then we can get on to the interesting stuff, the technical solutions that already exist and the more efficient extensions that we can produce…
Apply this approach to infrastructure necessary for survival, and the means of making the infrastructure to make the infrastructure, and we’ve got the solutions to most of the resource problems that we’ve got on this planet right now.