Rethinking Patents in an Open Web World – reverse the burden of discovery?

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Patents and Open Standards (W1G)

Convener: Kevin Marks

Notes-taker(s): Kevin Marks

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:


Recently the UK government has been dealing with conflicts between corporate entity’s patent interests and the desire to keep government identity initiatives largely in the Open Source community.


Patents started as a grant of a monopoly by Queen Elizabeth I to the single chosen maker of a product or provider of a service. During the reign of James VI the laws were repealed and patents were only granted for new inventions or services. In the US, patents were originally granted for the promotion of science or art. However, recently there has been an explosion of case law so now just about anything can be patented. In the UK mathematical concepts or scientific methods or presentation of information can’t be patented unless it’s “part of something else”.

Proposed Goals

· Don’t allow a concept that was open source to be patented after a period of time like a year.

· Prevent patent trolls from taking over open source concepts just because they have the money to litigate and open source community does not.

· Place burden of proof on those who file patents instead of on those accused of infringement.

Options to Achieve Goals

· Open Source groups funding litigation to prevent patenting of open source concepts

· Twitter’s IPA approach

· Extending Open Web Foundation Agreement to a defensive patent group

· New hashtag #fixpatents, need to establish a wiki page, mailing list or forum (KM now has

· Educate (or require by regulation) the patent offices about searching through open source or open standards to document prior art, even though it wasn’t part of an existing patent.

· Promote the rebalancing of patent law to reflect the real world that includes open systems and standards

· Promote organizational cultural behavior changes

· Commit to defend against patent trolls if the concept is part of OWFA or IPA (???)

· Find ways to streamline doing things the right way, like Twitter’s IPA

· Cultural education like the recent piece about the patent town in Texas featured on “This American Life”

· Change the perception of the investment/VC community about the value of patents versus ubiquitous open standards

· Instead of deriving power from “the crown”, derive it from consensus

Notes by Scott Rice

Whiteboard photo: