The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a great initiative fighting to ensure that improvidently granted patents (troll patents) don’t threaten the growth of 3D printing technology. What they do is identifying a lineup of top-priority patent applications that seem both overly-broad and dangerous to the free and open source community. To make sure that these patent applications do not deserve the monopolies that they are asking for, the EFF is collecting evidence (documents) published before the filing date of each shady application. This can be in the form of web pages, emails, journal articles, or patents are all appropriate documents, as long as they were reasonably public.
Now with the help of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center of Internet and Society, they have been able to challenge a number of these troll patent applications at the Patent Office. More information about that here.
It’s A Difficult Process
But this process is NOT an easy one, in fact it is a nearly impossible task to be carried out. For starters, searching the Patent Office’s website for pending applications is hard. And then, even if you can identify applications, it’s tough to know which ones really pose a danger to a growing technology. And, finally, the most important step of all: uncovering and submitting helpful information during the short window of opportunity.
That is the reason the EFF partnered up with Ask Patents. Ask Patents is a project of Stack Exchange. They help find the best prior art to attack what the EFF thinks are some pretty questionable patent applications.
They Need Your Help!
If you know of any applications covering 3D printing technology that you think should be challenged, please let them know by emailing [email protected] (and also point them to any relevant prior art you might know about).
You can read more about the Electronic Frontier Foundation via here. Please share this message with fellow 3D printing and open source enthousiasts so we can keep the future of 3D printing as open as it is now. Even better, lets get started now; Here are the first three applications the EFF posted at Ask Patents. Please read about them and share any prior art you might know about (but time is of the essence; the windows to submit prior art may start closing as soon as April 4, 2013).
CALL FOR PRIOR ART: 3D Printing application “Process for Producing Three-dimensionally Shaped Object and Device for Producing Same” (13/503217): http://patents.stackexchange.com/q/3494/3363
CALL FOR PRIOR ART: 3D Printing application “Additive Manufacturing System and Method for Printing Customized Chocolate Confections” (13/432424): http://patents.stackexchange.com/q/3493/3363
CALL FOR PRIOR ART: 3D Printing application “Ribbon Filament and Assembly for Use in Extrusion-based Digital Manufacturing Systems” (13/530191): http://patents.stackexchange.com/q/3495/3363