Opening patents for makers - a green light to make

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Description The objective of the legal project "Greenlight" is to introduce more clarity and

security in the patent system for free-innovators (makers, DIYers). (1) It is about creating a space in the system where they can freely work, tinker on patented devices, and share their ideas with no fear of patent infringement. (2) In addition to that, we would like to establish a database ("greenbase") which would centralize makers' ideas (on hardware, but not only) and serve as a) a source for patent search for patent offices, and b) enlist activities protected by the legal exception (the greenlight).

Person organizing Nata
Language en - English
en - English
Duration 5
Desired session Day 2
Desired timeframe begin


The project is an outcome of a PhD thesis in patent law on exceptions and their usability in light of the maker movement. The point of departure was a simple question about the scope of lawful activities on patented devices for which no approval of the patent holder is necessary. Although the landscape of patent exceptions, which I analyzed in my work, is broad and rich in various forms, only few can be somehow supportive & useful for makers. The rest is non-applicable whatsoever. (Patent exceptions like private&non-commercial use, experimental use, repair doctrine.) The few, I found somehow-related, are still far from perfection. Their scope is so narrow that in the end nothing can really work for makers and DIYer. In other words, I do not see any instruments that would protect makers from patent holders who can anytime assert their patents against them. I focused on public and non-commercial makers' activities, like posting instructions, sharing photos and descriptions. The underlying thought was the acts done on patents that do not generate money should be "innocent". And as such are safe, because as long as a patent holder cannot claim (financial) damages, he/she does not enforce patents against makers. But there is no legal protection for them, although open communities represent an enormous source of innovations. In addition to that, there are several legal disputes between big players (e.g. in 3D printing) that affect communities where people do use such patents.