I've written here, here, here, and here about patent philanthropy. Now, courtesy of Gifthub, I have learned that the Omidyar Network, which is about to shut down its online community, omidyar.net, has filed for a patent for the point system it used on the site. So here is just a list of the thoughts that come to mind:
- Noting the comments on GiftHub, I never liked the point system on o.net, it was too complicated for its purpose, so who cares;
- I'm sure this will make all those disgruntled souls over on o.net really happy to have invested their time in building community - when actually they were just unwitting beta testers;
- NOW do you believe me that the sectors have blurred beyond meaning - a commercial enterprise launches a free online community for nonprofit do-gooders who turn out to be beta testing a system that will be patented so as to collect royalties on its future use?
- Wait a minute, if the sectors have blurred this much, maybe the system is being patented, so it can be protected, royalties collected and then donated to a public trust that will fund the advancement of the Creative Commons and Open Source coding (OK, OK, stop laughing...)
- The value of something is in the eyes of the beholder. Different beholders see different value(s) - to community members at o.net it was in the community. To the owners of the network, it seems the value was in the code.
- NOW do you believe me that philanthropists should be thinking about IP?
- I'm glad some philanthropists agree with me that IP matters.