October 13, 2009
News - IP Obesity
about 2 years ago
To re-iterate what a lot of people are saying, but some are missing, very little that SparkFun manufactures would ever be patentable, so “open source” is kind of a no-brainer!
SparkFun makes very good “datasheet applications” of various ICs and components, but hardly anything that would ever be provided patent protection.
Trying to patent a circuit made from off-the-shelf components would be near-impossible. The circuit itself may be covered by copyright, but it’s trivially easy to reverse engineer and change a few things and have exactly the same functionality, and not be infringing.
Software (or firmware) is the magic sauce that give significant value to commodity boards and sensors, and that’s one kind of IP that you can control to a degree, and takes significantly more effort to reverse-engineer.
The underlying problem here is trying to overreach with “open source”, and apply it to tech IP in general. IP protection is an absolute requirement where millions of dollars of R&D are at stake, but meaningless when it’s a board or device that can be designed by an amateur in a few hours. (I could (and have) easily design an Arduino-compatible board from scratch in a few hours in Eagle…)
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