Dare to Share
This is a continuation of my last post on digital designs and patents.
One thing I’ve put a lot of though into is how I should protect the intellectual property of my product designs. After much soul-searching, I finally came to a simple decision: I won’t protect them at all.
A while ago I watched this TED talk by Johanna Blakely on the fashion industry and how it copes with the lack of patent or copyright protection. As it turns out, this lack of IP protection actually stimulates creativity in the industry, spurring designers to either constantly innovate or fall behind. As a result, there is a constant stream of fresh new design. What if this paradigm was implemented in the realm of product design?
I’ve had first-hand experience with the headaches caused by patents while working for a local toy inventor, Sean Mullaney. I was amazed by how restricted we were when it came to new toy ideas: we had to be abandon an idea if it was even vaguely similar to something that already came to market for fear that it could not be patented. This was very frustrating, not just because of the wasted time, but because our idea was often a dramatic improvement on the existing idea. And that right there is one of the great advantages of open-source design: incremental improvement.
There are many other advantages, but those will have to wait for another time; today I start on the construction of my CNC machine!