Tag Archives: patents

3D Printing old inventions that have fallen into public domain!

3D printing breathes new life into old inventions

By Jacob Kastrenakes on 

 
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The US Patent and Trademark Office may be the key battleground in today’s high-tech lawsuits, but it’s also home to a trove of inventions that have fallen into the public domain. Now patent lawyer Martin Galese is trying to bring some 21st century tech to the charming ideas patented in the 19th and 20th centuries. He’s dug up eccentric creations — from anEscher-esque building block to a combination comb and hair clip — and is rebuilding them using digital modeling tools, allowing anyone with a 3D printer to own a once-patented work from the past.

“You’re holding the 19th century by way of something that was produced in the 21st century,” Galese told The New York Times. Galese said that he sees the intricate drawings that accompany many patents as beautiful works of art, but that isn’t the aspect he appreciates most: the real idea of his Patent-Able blog, where all of his 3D models are featured, is to help people see the patent office as as wealth of ideas, and not just the impetus for endless legal battles.

 

MOST PATENTS HAVE FALLEN INTO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

Galese notes that there are over 8 million registered patents — and according to thePatently-O law blog’s estimates, only about 2.1 million of those were still in force last year. Just over a dozen patents have been featured so far on Galese’s blog, and he’s still on the lookout for “cool, weird, [and] surprisingly useful” ideas from the past to turn into 3D models. He uses MakerBot’s Thingiverse website — which collects and shares user-generated 3D models — to host all of his recreations. Galese thinks that it’s a fitting home for them: the patent office’s archives, he told the Times, are really just the “original Thingiverse.”

 

3D printing Chocolate innovations, Food for thought!?

http://qz.com/77751/3d-printing-chocolate-is-a-cool-idea-and-someone-is-trying-to-patent-it/

 

PATENTLY OBVIOUS?

3D printing chocolate is a cool idea, and someone is trying to patent it

By Leo Mirani @lmirani April 24, 2013

Yes, but does it come in fruit ‘n’ nut? Jens-Ulrich Koch/dapd

If there is one thing the patent wars in the mobile industry have taught us, it is that the price of innovation can be ruinously expensive. By one estimate, there are over 250,000 active patents affecting smartphones, or about 16% of all patents presently in force in America. One reason for that astonishing number is that patents are granted not just for groundbreaking innovations but also for relatively straightforward things such as the “slide-to-unlock” feature on the iPhone. That means lawsuits or hefty license fees for those who want build on existing work.

Observers fear that the young and rapidly growing field of 3D printing could fall into the same morass. At the moment, 3D printing is seeing a lot of innovation coming from enthusiasts who openly publish and share their work. But if applications to patent similar technology are granted, that means innovators may find themselves unable to use existing ideas for the 20-year life of a US patent.

A coalition of groups is now trying to ensure this does not happen. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a two-decades-old American digital rights advocacy teamed up with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard and Ask Patents, a Q&A site, to challenge a series of 3D printing-related patents pending approval in the US. Among these is one that seeks to patent the technology required to 3D print chocolate.

Kit Walsh, a lawyer at the Cyberlaw Clinic, says that challenging that particular patent is not really about chocolate, but about the idea that chocolate is just another material that can be melted and later solidified into new shapes. “If you let people get patents on every material that has those properties, you’re going to occupy 3D printing,” he said over the phone from Cambridge, MA.

The goal of the coalition stretches beyond protecting 3D printing. Walsh says they will expand their efforts to challenge patents related to mesh networking technology, a  new form of wireless communication. But the bigger idea is that their submissions could serve as a model for people who want to use a new procedure.

The group uses a provision in the America Invents Act, a new law that updates the United States’ creaking patent rules. The provision allows third parties—anybody from interested individuals to big corporations—to submit “prior art” that could help patent examiners determine whether an invention is obvious, and therefore unworthy of a patent. It is particularly enlightened law that should help those seeking to challenge patents as well as examiners themselves.

For challengers, it means a relatively simple, lawyer-free method of submitting prior art. In the past, the only procedure was a re-examination request, which could cost up to $20,000. By contrast, the new procedure is free for anybody making less than three submissions and just $180 for every 10.

Examiners too benefit because 3D printing covers a number of disciplines from chemistry to mechanical engineering. Individual examiners cannot be experts in every field, so additional submissions help them make better decisions.