@Naperlou: I'm not sure this is really like an open source license. This patent is for some sort of digital rights management system that would actually curtail access to the 3D design. Of course, who needs if it will ever be implemented, but it does raise some interesting questions.
This is an interesting development and probably speaks to the "maturity" of the technological innovation landscape, that legal wrangling can begin so early in the development process. As you said in your article, "Let the games begin". One would hope that legal battles don't prove to be too much of an entanglement to the successful deployment of these technologies.
Beth, this is very similar to the Open Source Software (OSS) situation. Software is distributed with a license, such as the Apache License from the Apache Software Foundation. This license states that you have the right to use the software, redistribute it, create derivative works, etc. in perpetuity. It grants copyright and patent rights. If you initiate any patent litigation in relation to the Work (as they call it) then your rights under the license are terminated. You can sell prodcuts created from the work, etc., but cannot restrict use of the Work itself. This is probably going to have to be a model for the 3D printing/manufacturing world.
One thing that is different is the way people may make money off of OSS as compared to 3D objects. In OSS, companies make money adapting the software to particular applications, and primarily by providing support and testing. Linux, the biggest OSS "product" is available free from many non-profit different sources, but can also be obtained from established companies as well (Oracle is an example). I wonder what the equivalent to providing support is going to be for 3D design objects.
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