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Robert Bunsen, Open Source Pioneer?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-mean-a-google-doodle-isn't-enough? dept.

Patents 127

cygtoad writes "Today marks Robert Bunsen's 200th birthday. I found this interesting factoid on the man: 'Bunsen and Desaga did not apply for patent protection on their burner and it was quite soon that others began to produce their own versions. Some even went so far as to claim the invention as their own, including one person who was granted a patent on the device. Both Bunsen and Desaga were involved in writing letters to the proper authorities to refute these claims.' Does anyone have an older example of such an open information pioneer? In my book he deserves some honor." Benjamin Franklin famously chose not to patent the design of the stove that bears his name, too; you can read all about it.

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127 comments

Awesome (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683356)

They were both awesomes.

Makes business sense, probably... (3, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683358)

When you have a system where you can actually make more money suing for patent infringement and protecting "intellectual property" than you can for actually creating a product, what do you think businesses will do? It probably wasn't the case back then.

Re:Makes business sense, probably... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683468)

except that is a very rare event.

Re:Makes business sense, probably... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683646)

Its not just that. Why do you think oil companies are heavily invested in alternative fuels? So they can lock down the technology to prevent anyone else doing it.
You think oil is expensive now... just wait 20 years to see how much they bleed us dry.

Early cave man (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683368)

Discovered fire... and didn't patent it.

Re:Early cave man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683494)

Really...? Thanks for the tip!

- A patent troll

And the business methods patent on "religion" (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683818)

Think of all the royalties and rent-seeking potential for "heaven", "hell", indulgences, salvation, etc.

and for those who would add [citation needed] - look up L. Ron Hubbard + religion

Fire (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683372)

The inventor of fire never got a patent on it. Think of all the royalties he missed out on!

Re:Fire (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683532)

Not to mention all of the many uses for fire that could be marketed. I mean for one, do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?

Re:Fire (3, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683562)

I'm going to apply for a patent for "fire, on the internet,"

Let the flamewar begin. I'll sue you all for patent abuse!

Re:Fire (1)

(Score.5, Interestin (865513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684636)

I'm going to apply for a patent for "fire, on the internet,"

I'll see your "fire on the Internet" and raise you "fire in a crowded theatre".

Re:Fire (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684952)

I'm going to apply for a patent for "fire, on the internet,"

I'll see your "fire on the Internet" and raise you "fire in a crowded theatre".

and I will raise it to "fire for various uses in a consumer environment"

Re:Fire (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686778)

I'm going to apply for a patent for "fire, on the internet,"

Stuff that, I bags WIreless FIre.

Fire was patented and the patent was enforced (5, Funny)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683558)

Fire. The inventor of fire never got a patent on it. Think of all the royalties he missed out on!

Untrue. Zeus held the patent, there was even enforcement. Prometheus paid quite a high price for his infringement.

Re:Fire was patented and the patent was enforced (4, Funny)

brentrad (1013501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683844)

Actually Zeus was ok with Prometheus using fire for his own personal use, but then Prometheus decided to make fire available to mankind through torch-to-torch networks, and he got hit by a massive distribution judgement.

Re:Fire was patented and the patent was enforced (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684558)

No, it was George Flint, a young man from Wales. The lore is that he was banging rocks around 842BCE, and sparks flew, catching his little pile of pine needles on fire. George ran to Uck, who said, "do it again". Bang, George went. Uck killed George, then claimed to invent fire and got 72 virgins. Uck's decendants include Edison and Sarnoff.

Re:Fire (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683858)

Did Al Bundy patent the Bundy Fountain? Of course not..

Re:Fire (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686772)

Fire is naturally occurring, so can't be patented. What he should have tried to patent is a method for starting fires. No wonder it got thrown out - the USPTO were a bit more clued up back then.

Credit (2, Informative)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683388)

Whatever, everyone knows Robert Bunsen plagiarized everything from his brother Honeydew. Beaker, you see, was his lover.

Re:Credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683548)

"Mee mee moo moo mee mee" -Beaker

Everything was open source (2)

Grapplebeam (1892878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683458)

Before patents. The real lesson here is people were obtaining patents on things they didn't invent even back then.

Re:Everything was open source (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684410)

Everything was open source before patents.

Everything was not patented, but not open source. People were motivated to keep stuff closed source (well you know what I mean). Patents were invented to stop the problems that this caused: people developed some awesome new way to do something cheaper and better, but then kept it a secret (closed source) so only they could profit from the final product. And if the info wasn't shared before such person kicked it, the knowledge was lost.

I hate patents as much as the next guy, they just didn't end open source. In fact patents force you to publish your methods in detail. In a time where mechanical-workings=source: become open source.

Re:Everything was open source (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686040)

I have to wonder if Bunsen didn't patent the burner because of ideology or did he just screw up. There are countless examples of people not patenting stuff due to sheer naivete. Now we have 2 options:
1) Research the story*, get the details and see what his opinions about the subject were. OR
2) Forget facts, the guy is a open-source god!

I would admit that the Wikipedia article says that "On a point of principle, he never took out a patent.". However, there is no citation there, and if anyone can find a better source, I'll be glad to lay my sarcasm aside.

* Yes, I understand that I, also, did not research the issue before writing my post, but I am at my parents' house and they wish me to join them for breakfast. No time :)

Not open source (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683466)

If the open source crowd was to do what these guys did they would release their code as public domain. This is not the same. Stop trying to hang your little label on every other thing that comes along.

Man up and go public domain or you're just a lot of hot air.

Re:Not open source (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683506)

Man up and read a dictionary. Open source means open source. It has nothing to do with software licensing.

Re:Not open source (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683704)

Man up and read a dictionary. Open source means open source. It has nothing to do with software licensing.

Doesn't the source in open source come from source code?

Re:Not open source (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683992)

Unless the dictionary in question is up on its jargon, I doubt it would be useful. Open source movement has been about the source code being open and available for everyone to see. Source code didn't exist in the time of Bunsen.

Re:Not open source (0)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684828)

Blueprints, technical drawings, schematics, wiring diagrams -- all source code.

Re:Not open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684008)

If the open source crowd was to do what these guys did they would release their code as public domain.

Wrong, releasing your ideas for a software application and letting others develop, sell, distribute applications based on your idea would be the same thing. Providing the source code for free use, modification and redistribution, with minor restrictions like don't be a douche bag and keep the source to yourself after the bulk of it was given to you for free in the first place, is almost like giving away the manufactured goods not the idea.

Now stop being such a douche bag, go write your own code and stop whining so much about what other people do with theirs.

Re:Not open source (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684298)

It's hard to extend and extinguish a fireplace design except in the most literal senses.

Re:Not open source (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684908)

fortunately most of the copiers had problems with the "embrace" part of fireplace design...

Dummont (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683498)

Santos Dummont - inventor of the air plane - recognized by Thomas Edison(http://www.cabangu.com.br/pai_da_aviacao/1-cronol/acervo_familia/cd02/SD-31PC.jpg).

He never make patent for any of his airplanes, ballons and dirigibles

Re:Dummont (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683604)

why do I have the feeling that what is linked is not a picture of Dummont?

Re:Dummont (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683814)

why do I have the feeling that what is linked is not a picture of Dummont?

The goat could be named Dummont.

Re:Dummont (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686010)

Santos Dummont - inventor of the air plane

No, that's an attempt by Brazil to pump up a national hero.

The Wright brothers didn't use a catapult in the 1903 flight, and the claim you just made would be wrong even if they had.

Faraday (3, Insightful)

leathered (780018) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683508)

I thought Michael Faraday [wikipedia.org] came up with the original gas laboratory burner. Bunsen merely improved on the design. I guess, like the telephone or television, no person can claim to be the sole inventor.

Re:Faraday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684062)

This kind of makes general reference to how stupid patents for software are, considering how painfully specific - yet still managing to be broad, due to the complexity of software/hardware - they are.

Consider: x does y with the assistance of z using revolutionary technique u.

How many different products fit that qualification (often, being applied long after the invention has become commonplace/many people had the same idea at the same time)?

If Bunsen's invention was truly just evolutionary and not revolutionary, why should he have gotten a patent on it, after all? I could understand that if, say, someone were to invent a method for the creation of mandogs - in a world where both men and dogs were easily created, but the mandog was yet so far illusive - why not get a patent? But if I were to build a better wheel, based on observation and study, should I really get a patent for that? My wheel construction and design may have one or two refinements to the existing concept, but largely they're the benefit of better metallurgy and general industry/scientific progression, not some sort of "eureka!"

IMO, a "eureka" moment should be required for a patent to be applied - a novel approach to an illusive problem. "x doesn't do what I want when I do y, so I'm going to apply z based on commonly understood principles within the field" just shouldn't get a patent. It's just stupid.

Re:Faraday (1)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684354)

Yeah, I came up with the paper clip, the safety pin, and the ballpoint pen just last week. They were all perfectly obvious--once I'd seen them.

Re:Faraday (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684672)

> Yeah, I came up with the paper clip, the safety pin, and the
> ballpoint pen just last week. They were all perfectly
> obvious--once I'd seen them.

If the mere sight of something is enough to replicate it, then it's hardly very inventive is it?

This especially goes for something that is more complex than a safety pin.

Re:Faraday (1)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684888)

I can often whistle a tune after I've merely heard it--that doesn't make me a composer.

I would argue that the simple, obvious-in-retrospect, inventions are the hardest. Complex inventions are frequently piles of simpler things organized in a new way. The stirrup, by contrast, is almost painfully simple,and is trivial to duplicate once seen, but men rode horses for some thousands of years before some gifted inventor thought of that simple, ground-breaking device.

There comes a point at which we tend to forget that things had to be invented--the lead pencil, the light switch, the telephone bell--because we have a hard time imagining their non-existence.

Re:Faraday (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684890)

No. Just because something is obvious once you see it doesn't mean it wasn't inventive to come up with it in the first place.

So like the steam engine then (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686650)

There is a nice story about that in the "Science of Discworld" series. Contrary to what you would expect from the title, these books are about our real science. The Discworld is just used as an outsider standpoint to look at our science.

My guess... (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683566)

Is that both Bunsen and Franklin were already quite well-off when they decided not to patent their ideas. It helps.

Re:My guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683778)

I have never heard of anyone poor who managed to defend his patents.

Re:My guess... (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683838)

I have never heard of anyone poor who managed to defend his patents.

... Therefore it has never happened?

Re:My guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35685076)

So that is why Microsoft doesn't patent anything anymore.

The love of money... (-1, Offtopic)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683580)

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:3-10 New International Version [scripturetext.com]

Re:The love of money... (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683628)

Something tells me this account has been hacked. Someone who posts material like this isn't exactly the first person I'd think of on a list of 'who could get to excellent karma on slashdot'.

Electronic Components (1)

the monolith (1174927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683594)

Although not pre-dating Bunsen, my favorite, and explicit anti-patent inventor is Jagdish Chandra Bose, benefactor to us all in so many ways. He even proved that plant and animal tissues are have parallels to one another.

Can I patent this? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683616)

Can I patent this [thedailywtf.com] abuse of a thumb drive?

Pierre and Marie Curie ? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683650)

The Curie couples are often depicted as people dedicated to science and nothing else. They really saw that as the enrichment of human knowledge and apparently never tried to monetize their discovery.

It is too bad that this kind of dedication in the research field is obscured by IP discussions.

No Email Patent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683666)

If those who created email worked for Ma Bell, we'd all be paying $1/email overage charges (the first 200 are only $5/month). It would definitely be patented if developed today.

Can you imagine the international long distance email and roaming fees?

There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

Black Art (3335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683672)

There needs to be an "anti-patent" that you can file that says "I invented this first, but I choose not to patent it". Something that would be legally binding and prevent later patents from people who look for things and ideas without patents and then file the patents for themselves.

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683692)

I'm not sure exactly what it's called but I'm pretty sure there is something like this...

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683700)

Just making your work public domain does that, no?

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684258)

No, that's for copyright, not patents.

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683938)

There is, but unfortunately it's called a "patent". You do what Google did with WebM [webmproject.org] -- obtain all the patents you can, then grant a "perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable ... patent license". Then it's effectively open to everyone, and cannot be patented.

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684274)

it's called an SIR. you file it with the patent office.

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686692)

Which will cost you money. There you have it. You would have to file these SIRs world-wide (or the patent comes in through the backdoor via treaties with other countries). Just publicizing would not help either, as patent offices do not read all publications. So this is just another way of making the small inventors powerless and handing their imaginary properties to the big IP-warriors.

I agree with the original poster that there should be a real "anti-patent". I mean, you just do the work of the patent office by avoiding their need to look through all publications and have to pay for it? What is this nonsense?

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

Major Variola (ret) (1980538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685520)

There needs to be an "anti-patent" that you can file that says "I invented this first, but I choose not to patent it". Something that would be legally binding and prevent later patents from people who look for things and ideas without patents and then file the patents for themselves.

There is ---its called publication. You publish without a patent, it becomes public knowledge without protection. Again, see the Scientists of the early last century.

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686148)

Any way that enables you to prove you came up with it will do. Patent law has always included "prior art" rules: you can't patent anything that has been done before.
See the BT "hyperlink" patent [zdnet.co.uk] .

Re:There needs to be an "anti-patent" (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686702)

I think the article gives a few nice examples of the opposite.

Wrong day, Bunsen born on 31 March, not 1 April (1)

ghostgum (611798) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683684)

Perhaps the original post should have said that 31 March was Robert Bunsen's birthday, because it was posted one day later on 1 April.

Re:Wrong day, Bunsen born on 31 March, not 1 April (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684228)

As of your posting time, in my timezone, March 31st still had a little over 8 hours left.

Re:Wrong day, Bunsen born on 31 March, not 1 April (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684906)

Nobody cares about your shitty timezone.

Joseph Priestey (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683694)

Besides being a brilliant political philosopher and theologian Priestley invented "impregnated water" but abhorred the idea of patents and the monopolies they grant. Josiah Schweppes was the dude who commercialized the product. Thank Joseph Priestley every time you enjoy American democracy, liberal Christianity, or carbonated beverages.

Dead Guys Birthday? (1)

Sir Realist (1391555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683754)

Am I the only one who finds the passion for celebrating the birthdays of dead guys to be somewhat inexplicable? I mean sure, he was born; so what? Most of us manage that. And he's not getting another year older anymore, nor can you congratulate him on that fact, so the idea of celebrating a birthday seems fairly pointless. If you want to commemorate a famous dead person, celebrate on a day they did something for which you particularly respect them; such as the date Bunsen first published his designs, in this case.

Patents only last 20 years (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683760)

So even if this would have been patented in 1855, the patent would have expired in 1875. And Bunsen could have made some money. That doesn't seem like a problem. I welcome inventors making some money off their inventions.

I contend that... (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683788)

I contend that, if you were to abolish patents completely tomorrow, people would still want to create and invent and solve problems. The pace of innovation would not slow down but increase, because no firm could ever rest on its laurels.

The arguments that clever people do not work unless paid very highly; that people do not express themselves unless given copyright protection; that people do not invent unless they can win a patent - all these arguments are oft repeated and rarely proven. IME all the cleverest people want is an environment where they can dedicate their time to their art.

Re:I contend that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683936)

. . . IME all the cleverest people want is an environment where they can dedicate their time to their art.

Which is where IP protection comes in. By allowing inventors to profit from their inventions, they now have the resources to create "an environment where they can dedicate their time to their art."

Re:I contend that... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683974)

appallingly, science pioneers of 19th century didnt do that, yet they still had resources to create 'an environment where they can dedicate their time to science'

Re:I contend that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684860)

Yeah, 19th century science wasn't pouring billions of dollars into R&D a year into projects that may likely fail also.

While there is still room for the garage inventor, the majority of real society changing innovations just aren't going to happen that way. Show me the individual or company who hasn't profited from patents but has the slightest chance in hell of bring about the next big microprocessor, pharmaceutical or electronic vehicle of any real worth. And, no, venture capitalists don't count since they also likely got their money from patents in some fashion.

Re:I contend that... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684896)

the point is - free exchange of ideas, has ALWAYS spurred technological progress more than anything else, during the course of history. this has been so ranging from the more freely speaking and exchanging society of ancient greece, to the maritime trader cities and nations in middle ages, to scientific age.

feodalization in the form of allowing ownership of ideas and concepts to parties, kills that fundamental of societal dynamics. and nothing can bring it back. thousands of patents are rotting right now, unused, undiscussed. and many more are being hampered because of expectancy of personal profit

Re:I contend that... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685284)

Yes, because most of those 19th century scientists were either of upper or upper middle class birth which is why they could devote all their time to science. Very few of the greats were of working class status.

Re:I contend that... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685366)

your statement is incorrect. a goodly percentage was of the middle class level that needed extra income. this even goes for champollion et al, at the start of 19th century.

Re:I contend that... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684024)

That is unlikely though.

After all, how often have we seen this formula:

1) Inventor invents something new and revolutionary and is marketing it

2) Right before the product goes on the market a patent troll sues the company that is marketing it

3) By the time the case is truly resolved, some other way of solving a problem was created leaving the inventor of the product nothing but a long time spent in court.

The idea that patents make the inventors money so they can continue to invent and create good things is a complete myth in 2011.

What if you don't patent something (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683848)

and then put it into the public domain. Does that make it impossible to patent?

Re:What if you don't patent something (1)

cforciea (1926392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684230)

No. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that having a technique or idea in the public domain or implemented in a product or service for decades has no bearing on whether the USPTO will grant a patent to somebody else for it.

Re:What if you don't patent something (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686272)

But it does make the patent invalid. If that happens you can fight it. The patent offices are not equipped to search the complete internet for prior art (I don't think anyone is, since a computer is not yet able and AI's aren't evolved enough yet). They rely on making the patent public and allowing you to fight them. You do have to prove the patent holder wasn't the first.
See the BT "hyperlink" patent [zdnet.co.uk]
IANAL.

Re:What if you don't patent something (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684634)

It makes it harder to patent yes. The trick is making sure you disclose enough details in a published form that the USPTO will easily find should someone else apply for something similar. The primary source for the USPTO is other patents and published applications.

Re:What if you don't patent something (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684776)

So, basically, unless you're there the day they review the patent to rub their noses in it like a dog that shit on the carpet while you were out, they'll have no idea your invention ever existed if it's not already in the patent database.

It was not called open source then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683852)

... it was called being decent.

jkgkkl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683916)

lhlkhklh

Name any science pioneer. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35683966)

Back then, science was believed to be universal, and majority of scientists were idealistic to the point that they would send idealists of today crying to a corner in shame.

Re:Name any science pioneer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684688)

Right! Like Edison or Hammond.... oh wait.

Re:Name any science pioneer. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684818)

yes name 3 more. oh - sorry - 4. edison used to snatch the inventions of his assistants.

RADIATION (1)

Major Variola (ret) (1980538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684020)

Look up Roentgen and the Curies. They didn't patent for the explicit good of mankind. There used to be this tradition, this culture...

First to File (1)

Dogun (7502) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684248)

This is the kind of awesomeness that won't be possible anymore under First to File, which some asshats are very keen on switching to.

Re:First to File (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684612)

If you don't know anything about Patent Law best to keep your mouth shut rather than make a fool of yourself. Public sales of the burner and publication of Poggendorffs Ann. Physik, 100, p. 84-5. count as prior art you idiot.

Re:First to File (1)

Dogun (7502) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684804)

You must be rather special to have failed to realize I am not talking about the burner.

Re:First to File (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35685258)

He is not that special, I did not get it either.
Then what awesomeness are you talking about?
And why is it not possible with first to file?

Re:First to File (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684976)

but under "first to file" that actually doesn't matter. If you didn't FILE you'd have to prove the other party KNEW you invented the app... "failure to file" is not a defense to suddenly finding yourself in trouble for something you were already doing. So many patents are written as "black box" documents anyway. Now that the "working model" is done away with anybody can rationalize after they see something that looks like what they might have thought of.

Open Gym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35684662)

Jack LaLanne didn't patent many of the gym inventions he came up with.

Factoid does not mean what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35685038)

Fact + oid: resembling a fact, but not actually being one.

cf humanoid, android

Leonardo da Vinci (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35685292)

Did Leonardo da Vinci patent his engines?

Fact, not oid (1)

Asdanf (1281936) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685318)

Here's an interesting fact for you: factoid does not mean what you think it does [wiktionary.org] . Though I realize that asking /. editors to pick up on something like that is a pipe dream.

Reminds me of an old comic in OMNI (1)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685550)

I think it was OMNI magazine that had the cartoon:

"Bunsen, your work on chromatography is excellent. But what really impresses me is that cute little burner you have there."

The Davy Lamp (1815) (5, Interesting)

SpaceToast (974230) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685678)

After a series of deadly methane explosions in British coal mines, Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) invented an oil lamp with a metal mesh-encased wick, which became known as the Davy lamp. He released it without patent, and the design quickly spread. Humphrey determined through experimentation that methane only exploded at a certain mixture with oxygen, at a certain (high) temperature. The metal mesh dissipated the heat of the wick below the ignition point, which alerting the miners to the presence of methane ("fire damp") by burning at a different color. It was considered an early triumph of the application of the scientific method to a critical public need.

For a fascinating read on the era, I can't recommend Richard Holmes' recent book The Age of Wonder highly enough.

Earlier than Bunsen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35686296)

An earlier example? I believe Archimedes didn't patent his screw...

Creators Rights movement from the 16th century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35686730)

In European countries, printers used to have patents for printing books in a certain genre for a certain geographic market (like one had exclusive right for printing fine Bibles in an area, another one exclusive rights to print Bibles for the poos, one had the rights for historic novellas, one for poetry et.c.). These patents was granted by the ruling Monarch. Most authors at that time wanted to see their works spread, and was propagating a more open system, even free printing without royalties (the main income for authors came from rich mentors, it was more important to become famous than getting a part of the sale of the books).

Then there are a lot of 15-17th century inventors that opposed the patent systems. The first that comes to my mind is Swedish inventor and scientist Eva Ekeblad [wikipedia.org] . She was the most influential scientist in Sweden in the 18th century (Carl Linnaeus [wikipedia.org] , Anders Celsius [wikipedia.org] or all the, other then Eva, pivotal important 18th century Swedish chemists [wikipedia.org] , don't come close to her influence over the Kingdom of Sweden)

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