A large portion of the 3D printing community is within the open source world, while the rest is commercially oriented. Conflicts have occurred, but now there could be a way to reduce them.
The Defensive Patent License is an initiative to develop an open source license that is intended to prevent patent trolling and encourage innovation. Here’s how it works, according to the organizers:
Innovators who opt into the DPL network pledge to forgo any patent litigation against any other DPL user, except when asserting patents defensively. In return, they are eligible to receive royalty-free licenses from every other user’s portfolio. Anyone taking a license must promise to put all of her patents under the DPL. In the event that the patents are sold, DPL users must legally obligate the new owner to abide by prior DPLs. If one ceases offering one’s patents under the DPL, previous licensees keep their DPLs royalty-free, but the leaving user may have her licenses converted from royalty-free to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND) at the discretion of the remaining licensors.
In the 3D printing community there has been concern over open source projects that have “gone commercial”. In some cases these newly commercial entities have been absorbed by larger industries and most of their open source ties are diminished in the process. The DPL hopes to prevent situations such as this and other troublesome patent scenarios.
Will this work? We think it certainly could, although projects will have to seriously commit to the terms above, which more or less limit any potential future commercialization.