Published designs on DIYAudio and Copyright, Patent and etc issues...

Hi everybody!

I have thought for a while about something that maybe should concern everybody since many of us DIY:ers are sometimes publishing own designs here, and some IMHO with real market value, and all these valuable information is given away for free.

I wonder now if somebody is publishing a design that may be a kind of a new circuit, invention or so not patented yet, is the published information when published on for instance here on DIYAudio, is it a public knowledge then?
As I understand if something is made public it can't be patented, but this is really not my area.

Or maybe sites like DIYAudio are not an official place where to publish, are there perhaps some other place on internet where somebody can make official publishings of own designs etc.?

Another thing is how and when to use Copyright (C), can the Copyright text/symbol be added whenever somebody feel to use the Copyright?
And if used, how can it possibly protect ones design, at least if we look at it from a theoretical point of view?

How are these issues applicable internationally, or perhaps just for Europe and US?

I hope these issues could be discussed from a general point of view, anybody with some insight?

I personally think it would be highly interesting to know somehting about these issues, I think if some DIY:er make any publishing that it would be good if it could be prevented from being patented as I guess here and everywhere on the internet are "commercial thiefs" who can snap up ones ideas and it would feel a bit pitty to see some DIY design being patented that have been published before.
I understand that it's impossible for companys etc who are applying for patents to check everywhere, but anyway.
I also understand that for most of us it's propably economically impossible to protect ones design, but newertheless hopefully we can put these kind of issues wont let the main issue to be discussed, but all aspects are valuable and interesting information and welcome to be discussed.

Regarding the Copyright issue I have seen someone use it in her schematics.
BTW, is it possible to make notes in combination with Copyright marking to add text such as "only for non-commercial use" to express the way a design is allowed to be used, this is also something seen sometimes.

Comments and worthwhile insights are wellcome!

Regards Michael
 

pinkmouse

diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2002-04-03 7:15 pm
Rotherham, England
There are differences over the world, but in general, if you publish a design anywhere, you can't patent it. As for using the copyright symbol, that does not protect your design, merely the artwork side of it such as schematics or pcb layouts. All someone has to do is redraw the offending article and they are off the hook.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way that an average member of the public can protect their own IP, unless they are very rich/sell out to a big company, so we just have to be happy with the self satisfaction of a job well done, and respect from our diy peers. That's good enough for me. :)
 
Personally I dislike the very concept of intellectual property. If I publish something worthwhile here and someone uses it, for themselves or commercially, then so be it. After all, everything I create is itself based on ideas I have obtained from others in the same manner.

In the US it is possible to patent things which have already been published, but not elsewhere (of course in the US it's possible to patent a method for swinging on a swing, so that's not saying much).

Copyright is applied automatically to anything you create. Good luck trying to enforce it without being a powerful corporation with lawyers though, as pinkmouse has already said.

Yes, you can put a "for non-commercial use" thing on to allow something you hold copyright on to be used freely by normal people.
 
Hi and thanks for your comments guys!

Oh, I re-red my text and my intention is not really to prevent a "big" guy to patent it or so, as even I understand and mentioned it also that we small guys can never defend because we would be ruined economically long before tha case is won.

Personally my backthoughts would be more to try to "secure" ones right to use it's own design despite of a patent that has appearad afterwards.

I mean if some DIY:er would present a design that will gain popularity from other DIY:er, it would be commersial, even if there is no profits to talk about.
But also if the designer himself would perhaps like to commersialize the design in the future... the issue as I see it at least, even if perhaps very tiny, is that some "BIG" guy may have patented afterwards and may prevent DIY group buy or the designer to commercialize her own design.

My primary issue here is not to seek how to protect ones ego on any DIY forum, but more protect our rights to make it available for other DIY:ers But Also the designers eventuall will to commercialize his own design.
If the designer want to commercialize his design, the idea is not necessary per automatic that the designer want to prevent DIY:ers from continue to build the design, as I mentioned before it's always possible to add a text like "for non-commersial use".
Also if the designer want to commercialize his own design, it also may not necessary mean to make any profit, but to make it to ones own hobby or whatever reasons and at least of principle protect it!
If someone want to drive the "ego line" he or she can also concider not to publish on a DIY forum to avoid unnecessary annoyans.
The whole thing at lest as I see it is of priciple.

And last but not least to concider regarding DIY designs and Copyrights: www.passdiy.com ;)

Regards Michael
 
Mr Evil said:
In the US it is possible to patent things which have already been published, but not elsewhere (of course in the US it's possible to patent a method for swinging on a swing, so that's not saying much).

Only if it's published by the inventor seeking patent protection, and then only if it was published less than a year before applying for a patent.


Mr Evil said:

Copyright is applied automatically to anything you create.

I don't think it's automatic.
 

SY

diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2002-10-24 10:19 pm
Chicagoland
www.SYclotron.com
Mr Evil said:
Personally I dislike the very concept of intellectual property. If I publish something worthwhile here and someone uses it, for themselves or commercially, then so be it. After all, everything I create is itself based on ideas I have obtained from others in the same manner.

I love the concept of intellectual property- that's how I make my living. But, audio is a hobby for me, so I've got the same attitude as you about people using stuff I post.

@pooge: What you say is correct in the US, but under most other patent law, publication prevents subsequent patenting unless a US priority date has already been established (in which case, the one year clock starts ticking).

Ususal disclaimer: I'm an experienced inventor but I am not an attorney.
 
I don't work in the field, so I cannot speak from experience, but isn't all this trend of putting "Copyright....." on schematics on this board all just ego? I mean, only a tiny fraction of what is posted appears to me to have any novelty. I don't mean to be negative, I know there is a significant amout of good stuff. I just feel it drowned out by the volume of fluff. I cannot imagine that they could ever stand a patent suit. Lately I only go to the Chip Amp forum to laugh at the "discoveries" :)
 

kelticwizard

diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2001-09-18 2:33 am
Connecticut, The Nutmeg State
It is an absolute mystery to me why anyone would post something on a message board that they planned to patent and make money from.

That absolutely astonishes me.

As for somebody else patenting something, I would think that if you make something for yourself or just as a sideline to a relatively few people, how on earth is the patent holder ever going to know you exist?

I'm not advocating anyone break the rules, but some things are just obvious.
 
SY said:
A copyright just applies to a particular drawing. There's a lot of misunderstanding about what a copyright can and can't do.


SY,

How does that work with prose? I mean, suppose I write a 4-page treatise on the virtues of copper screws on PC boards, and I put "(c) Jan Didden" at the end, does that mean that legally it cannot be copied or distributed without my agreement?

Jan Didden
 
pooge said:
...Only if it's published by the inventor seeking patent protection, and then only if it was published less than a year before applying for a patent...
Technically yes, but when you look at what actually gets patented in the US, it turns out that even things which were published long before are often able to be patented, and there are even cases of what Ultima Thule feared: people being sued for using something they themselves invented.


pooge said:
...I don't think it's automatic.
It is automatic in the UK, and I'm pretty sure the US is the same: http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/std/faq/copyright/protect_rights.htm


janneman said:
...suppose I write a 4-page treatise on the virtues of copper screws on PC boards, and I put "(c) Jan Didden" at the end, does that mean that legally it cannot be copied or distributed without my agreement?
Yes.
 
pinkmouse said:
But the ideas in the paper are free to all. If rewritten, it can be published or even sold by others.


That's interesting. That means I can pick up someone else's ideas, put it in my own words, and sell it for profit. Hmm. Doesn't seem fair. But then again, life isn't supposed to;)

Jan Didden
 
Hi Mr Evil,

I checked out the link you gave, and couple of other topics from that site too regarding Copyright.


I am still bit puzzled after going through the text especially linked by Mr Evil.

at the link: .How can I protect my copyrights? the text says:
Copyright protection is automatic as soon as there is a record in any form of what has been created (there is no official registration).

But if you notice the HTML word automatic you find a text explaining as follow:
There is no official registration system for copyright in the UK and most other parts of the world. There are no forms to fill in and no fees to pay to get copyright protection. You do not need to register copyright - there is no official registration system. This is why protection is said to be automatic.

So my question is still if we have to use the text/symbol Copyright/(C) in our material we wish to publish to explicitly tell it is a Copyright before we gain the rights conforming with the Copyright laws.

Good links (below) BTW giving a sense of what the Copyright is about,
there were also a lot of other interesting topics in the issue too!
Copyright FAQs More copyright FAQs


Regards Michael
 

SY

diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2002-10-24 10:19 pm
Chicagoland
www.SYclotron.com
janneman said:



SY,

How does that work with prose? I mean, suppose I write a 4-page treatise on the virtues of copper screws on PC boards, and I put "(c) Jan Didden" at the end, does that mean that legally it cannot be copied or distributed without my agreement?

Jan Didden

From my understanding, yes. BUT... as others have pointed out, someone else can write a similar paper with the same ideas, but worded differently and that's OK. That's why it's legal for you to write a textbook on electronics even though lots of other people have produced copyrighted works covering the same material.
 

scott wurcer

Disabled Account
2004-01-26 3:03 pm
Belmont MA
Mr Evil said:

Technically yes, but when you look at what actually gets patented in the US, it turns out that even things which were published long before are often able to be patented, and there are even cases of what Ultima Thule feared: people being sued for using something they themselves invented.


This is actually less true than the case where you think something is obvious and you don't even publish it. We do prior art searches all the time and have on some occasions had competitors patents invalidated and that is often the other half of the story that you don't hear. Current advice is to clearly publish in a public forum (usually a technical journal) ideas that you don't want to be patented so you (and everyone else) can use them freely.

Another thing I question is the practice of saying "you have permission to build one copy of whatever". I see it all the time in links from here. In the case of something not patented this has no legal standing whatsoever. Copyrights do not protect circuits at all and even the schematics are only copyrighted in their exact rendered form. In a forum like this trusting peoples sense of fair play is all you can do.

Reverse engineering is also protected by law BTW. You can take something appart generate a schematic along with a complete description of the circuit and sell them (or post them here) if you want. The original owner may have trademark and patent protection but that is a completely separate issue.
 
Mr Evil said:

Technically yes, but when you look at what actually gets patented in the US, it turns out that even things which were published long before are often able to be patented, and there are even cases of what Ultima Thule feared: people being sued for using something they themselves invented.

What actually gets patented does not mean it's a valid patent, or otherwise should have been patented in the first place. The patent examiner may not have been aware of a prior publication when the patent was examined. A patent examiner gets, on average, less than 16 hrs to read the application, do a search of prior art, write at least one action either allowing or rejecting the application, and maybe several actions if the applicant amends the claims and continues to pursue the patent after the art rejection. Thus, the examiner's search of prior art is limited in time and extent, and mostly limited to prior patents and what literature known to applicant is submitted by applicant.

A U.S. patent is available to the first to invent, not the first to file. Two people can invent the same thing independently. The first one is entitled to the patent. If the actual first one to invent can't proove it, he is SOL. This is the reason one needs to keep witnessed records of invention. Publishing is one manner of establishing the time of invention. A patent is a "reward", so to speak, for the gift of teaching the world a new idea. If one does not make it available to public knowlege, then there is no reward. Another misconception about patents is that when you get one, you are entitled to make and sell a product based upon the patent. This is not always true. What it gives you is the right to exclude others from making and using the invention. An earlier, broader patent may exclude you from making and using your own patent. There is a fair use doctrine, where one can make and use a patented invention for, e.g., experimental use. This promotes improvements that can end up being patented. If you do not sell a patented invention, you are not likely to get into trouble. The patent holder is not likely to have a financial loss sufficient enough to bother sueing you.
 
As Pooge stated above,

that's probably the situation in many many cases.

I wondering what if.... some DIY:er etc have published a design and later on a copmany make a patent, what happens in a case the patent applicant want's to sue the "small guy" who have published something allready earlier, is this a realistic scenario?

I think the last thing the "small" guy can at least hope for is at least to continue his business, whatever that means, in parallel with the "big" guy who have refringed the copyright.
A mutual understanding in such a case would be very appreciated for a small guy, at least i would think so, I would not throw away energy in a legal battle.

Regards Michael
 
If the "small guy" can proove he invented first, the patent to the "big guy" is invalid. This is in the U.S. The U.S. has a first to invent law. This is not the case in other countries. Most have a first to file law. However, a prior publication by the small guy may prevent the big guy from getting or enforceing his patent if the laws in the other countries disallow a patent based on prior published material. Each country may have different laws in this regard. In the U.S., if a publication by someone different than the patent application is published before the patent applicant invents (not files), he is barred from a patent. If the publication is more than one year prior to the application for patent, he is also barred, no matter who published.