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Type Paper
Year 2023
Cite as Citation reference for the source document. Kulkarni A, Pearce JM. Patent Parasites: Non-Inventors Patenting Existing Open-Source Inventions in the 3-D Printing Technology Space. Inventions. 2023; 8(6):141. Academia OA preprint

Open-source 3-D printing has played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the additive manufacturing (AM) landscape by making distributed manufacturing economic, democratizing access, and fostering far more rapid innovation than antiquated proprietary systems. Unfortunately, some 3-D printing manufacturing companies began deviating from open-source principles and violating licenses for the detriment of the community. To determine if a pattern has emerged of companies patenting clearly open-source innovations, this study presents three case studies from the three primary regions of open-source 3-D printing development (EU, U.S., and China) as well as three aspects of 3-D printing technology (AM materials, an open-source 3-D printer, and core open-source 3-D printing concepts used in most 3-D printers). The results of this review have shown that non-inventing entities, called patent parasites, are patenting open-source inventions already well-established in the open-source community and, in the most egregious cases, commercialized by one (or several) firm(s) at the time of the patent filing. Patent parasites are able to patent open-source innovations by using a different language, vague patent titles, and broad claims that encompass enormous swaths of widely diffused open-source innovation space. This practice poses a severe threat to innovation, and several approaches to irradicate the threat are discussed.

Keywords[edit | edit source]

3-D printing, additive manufacturing, innovation, intellectual monopoly, intellectual property, open innovation, open hardware, open-source, paten, RepRap, Intellectual property; Prior art; Open hardware; Automation; Certification; data management; knowledge; data management practices; open source software; free software; knowledge mobilization, Open Source, Open Source Hardware, Innovation, free and open source hardware; FOSH; free and open source software; open design; open hardware; open science; open scientific hardware; OScH; communication studies, communication, information technology, information science, libraries, science, knowledge, technology, sociology

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