[cc-community] Patent research exemption

John Wilbanks wilbanks at creativecommons.org
Thu Feb 12 18:28:03 EST 2009

I'm going to respond to two emails at once here.

Geni wrote:
 >Considering the costs of registering and maintaining global patents I
 >can't really see anyone doing that.

That's what Nike and Best Buy have asked us to help them do. So there is 
an existence proof that at least two big companies want to do this. 
There are also the eco-patent commons and the linux patent commons (both 
linked in the CC blog post announcing the project) which bring together 
dozens of massive multinational companies to do precisely this kind of 
thing. So, there are also at least two other existence proofs. We'll 
find out how far this all goes as part of the experiment...

Eric Norman wrote:

 >If research is somehow illegal, then there a much larger problem that
 >needs to be addressed.  And just creating an exemption doesn't come
 >close to addressing it.

Much of research indeed infringes existing patents. It's just that the 
holders don't see a reason to sue over it, and allowing the infringement 
doesn't harm the value of the patent (this is different from copyright, 
fwiw). But cultures of infringement aren't a great thing. If we can fix 
both the problem of how large patent holders share their patents with 
the world for some areas (like sustainability) and at the same time make 
the infringements go away and create freedom to operate for all 
academics, it seems to solve two problems at once.

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