LESI 2010 | Open Source Development vs Protected IP Rights

The remark is often made that institutions do not protect their IP because they favour an “open source development” or “open source innovation” model.

The basis of this viewpoint is that knowledgeable individuals contribute “free of charge” to provide products (software etc.) which is available to other contributors.  In exchange such individuals has access to the development of other contributors “free of charge”.  This development model is used to develop cutting edge technology in a rapid changing technological environment.

Opposed to the open source development model there is the “Legally protected” development model, which use legal tools to protect IP for the benefit of the individual or the institution.  The advantage of this system is that the individual or institution can recover their investment in research and development over a period of 20 years.

This model is used by pharmaceutical companies to develop new health solutions for the benefit of mankind, but with the knowledge that their (very costly) investment will be recovered in future.

These viewpoints are often presented as opposing viewpoints with proponents of each justifying the one against the other.  However it is a widely accepted fact that each of these models has its own benefits and their own drawbacks.

Smit & Van Wyk Inc. with individuals coming from a background of high technology development, but being at the forefront of legal protection of our clients rights, have the view that these two diverse models can be combined into a new “Legally protected open source model” (LPOSM) to maximise the benefits of each model whilst minimising the disadvantages of each model.

The LPOSM model incorporate use of open source technologies as input to new development and making available new developments to the open source community where appropriate, but to incorporate certain technologies (normally not available in the open source market) into products by using patent pools and commercial agreements to access such technology whilst legally protecting certain core competencies.

Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. can be contacted for more information on open source development, the LPOSM model, and legal protection of IP rights.

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