Tag Archives: open source

Do-it-yourself civilisation kit; all open source

Great TED talk from Marcin Jakubowski about his Open Source Ecology project.  It’s just 4 minutes and well worth watching.

In the blog post “Open Source Ecology: Global Village Construction Set” the Climate Crocks blog said (of Jakubowski):

“In the course of solving his own dilemma as a startup sustainable grower with limited resources, he realized that his problems were the same as those faced by subsistence growers across the planet.  There was no bottom rung for getting a foothold in a modern society without huge economic resources. So of course, he decided to build just that.

Enter, the Global Village Construction Set & Open Source Ecology, transcending artificial scarcity with a do-it-yourself civilization kit – the fifty most important machines that it takes for modern life to exist.”

(Thanks to Peter Bloch for sending me the link)

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Is Open Source “bad”?…. NO!

Spotted another take on the Plumpy’Nut case this week.  Readers of this blog will know we have been following this news closely over the past year. (See our posts here).  The post on AfroIP was entitled, “The Sticky Situation Surrounding Plumpy’Nut.”  The writer, Isaac Rutenberg, (Patent Agent at Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP in San Francisco) observed:

 “The problem is that intellectual property and the implications of certain acts are often not fully understood by scientists and especially by the general public.”

Oh yes, and the need to raise awareness in general about IP issues is something we know is important.  And it’s not always easy.  A compelling 2 minute elevator pitch on IP in Ag4Dev can be challenging…  That’s why when I spot an analogy that resonates with me I take note!  And in the article about Plumpy’nut, the writer made a useful connection between Open Source, and keeping outputs available. 

“Contrary to popular belief, open source software is protected by copyright. The copyright owners (e.g., the software authors) have simply said that they are willing to grant an open license to anyone who would like to use the software, subject to some conditions. One important condition is that any advances made on the software must also become open source, so the software continues to improve but always remains freely available for use. If there was no copyright protection of the original open source software code, the open source system would not work.”

Thanks Isaac Rutenberg, well put!  It’s one of the best known examples of protection not meaning unavailable.  Of course it is not without its problems, Open Source can be very complicated when it comes to derivative works.  Nonetheless it’s a useful example — there are no silver bullets!

EPO action on Green Patents

Guat Hong Teh sent me this link to an article in Nature http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100505/full/465021a.html describing an EPO initiative to make clean energy patents easily accessible in a central database:

The EPO trawled through 60 million patent documents and re-classified clean-energy patents according to 160 technical categories, such as carbon capture and solar photovoltaics. This should make it much easier to find patent information. The database launches in June through esp@cenet (http://www.espacenet.com), a gateway to European patent databases. Last year, the EPO received 1,259 renewable-energy patent applications, up 27% from 2008, and the new database will be updated daily to include the growing number of energy patents filed at patent offices worldwide (see Going green).

This is a real groundbreaker and is part of a trend that includes a fast-track program for green energy patent applications in both the USA and the UK.

A reminder that CAS, particularly through working with ICRISAT, has been instrumental in ensuring that literature relating to CG innovations is included in EPO’s non-patent literature database. Victoria Henson-Apollonio observes that:

This ensures that patent examiners are more fully informed about prior art and helps make sure that patents don’t cover what is already known and has been put forward by others; and this results in better quality patents.

Back to green patents: check out the Global Innovations Commons.

As part of their public service program, financial and IP innovator M•CAM has assembled an impressive database of public domain IP – mostly expired patents –  in categories such as agriculture, soil erosion and solar energy.  This information is freely available, but…

…here’s the catch. We’re sharing this under a license. The license is really simple. If you use this information, you must share what you’re doing with everyone else. If you improve upon it, you must share your improvements with everyone else. And finally, if you use any of this information, you must reference the “Global Innovation Commons.” That’s it. When you take the next step, turn the possibilities into realities.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Microsoft patent case against TomTom

Link 1 ZDNET

Link 2 ZDNET

Link 3  The Register

This is a hot intellectual property story doing the rounds at the moment.  It has certainly created a lot of attention (and anger!) which is apparent in the hundreds of comments left on the above linked news sites.  In short a patent infringement case has been filed by Microsoft against TomTom (the makers of in-car sat nav systems).  However, the real “story” seems to be a larger issue being described as “the first shot fired by Microsoft vs. Free Software” (see full blog posting).  This in turn is making some nervous that Linux might be next in the firing line (see item here) It’s going to be one to watch for those involved in open source-projects.

Thomson Reuters sues University for reverse engineering

http://www.courthousenews.com/2008/09/17/Reuters_Says_George_Mason_University_Is_Handing_Out_Its_Proprietary_Software.htm
Demand for $10 million and injunction to stop distribution of new open-source format software by George Mason University.  Reuters claim violation of its licence agreement.  As the wave of the announcement washes over the net there is heated debate breaking out.  There is a mass of bloggers analysing the legal arguments whilst open-source supporters are threatening boycotts of EndNote (the proprietary software involved in the case).  This is a story that we are going to hear a lot about in the future!  We will keep you posted.