Levi Porter wrote:
Scrupulous wrote: Just out of curiosity, who would be willing to sign and post a confidentiality agreement for this?
A simple question that creates more questions... I'll try to keep it simple.
I thought this was about the power of witnessing?
If it is in regards to initial review of ideas than it seems reasonable.
Is there a clause that permits open disclosures about the process?
That's it for now.
P.S. I'll have multitudes of questions after we get started
Well, now we're getting to the heart of the matter, and feedback is welcome. Here's a few crititcal points to consider...
I'm using patent law as the foundation for this process. That way we rely principles that are already well-established, and available to anyone for inspection. There is no sense in "re-inventing the wheel" (did I say that?) with our own set of rules, which would not necessarily take precedence over the law anyway. With that in mind, any questions on specific rights to particular ideas and disclosures would be handled at any time by the same body, regardless of whether the group still exists or not.
So, with respect to the current laws, this is what we need to know:
In simple terms, if any patentable material gets presented to the general public in printed form (such as on the internet) before an application is filed, then foreign rights are basically forfeited and a one year clock starts ticking for US rights.
For now, it would not be difficult to establish US inventorship and file for domestic (US) rights to anything that gets developed in the group, even if information happens to leak out. This is based on the power of witnessing ideas.
According to current US laws, co-inventors that are listed on a patent have equal (total) and unrestricted share of the property. Each co-inventor is free to seek licensing or manufacturing however he or she chooses. This is why it's necessary to have a joint-ownership agreement in place, upon filing for a patent. An agreement based on unanimous decisions minimizes the chance of collusion.
Any dispute over inventorship should be avoided at all costs, as it would effectively defeat the whole purpose of the group. If such a dispute appeared likely for a given project, then a smaller group (a lesser invention) would possibly need to be defined for that project, so that the co-inventors could expect to reach an agreement. The specifics would depend on the things that had transpired up to that point.
Now, I sincerely doubt that anyone who was interested in getting involved in this would do it for deceptive purposes, or to be a distraction. What's more likely is a difference in opinion as to the best direction to take with particular idea. But, because the potential for information to get leaked out of a private forum (whether by accident or not) would be impossible to eliminate, the risk must be acknowledged. And, short of an airtight method for securing information over the internet, which is no small task, it's better to just accept the reality. (Even if we all met in person behind locked doors and no windows, there would be no guarantee of eliminating that risk.)
One of the benefits of a popular website like this one is that people can network without giving up their anonymity, while still contributing to something meaningful. We talked about having an administrator collect and verify names, so that access can be granted into the private forum. I'm not sure that's even necessary, for the time being. The reasoning is that it would be difficult to force anyone to divulge their legal names here, and nearly impossible to verify them anyway. Unless I'm mistaken, the value of the private forum would be to greatly reduce the risk that outsiders would be tempted to view the discussions, take the ideas and run with them. However, true inventors within the group would at some point be compelled to provide their legal names, in order to acquire intellectual property.
But help me out here, because security is no guarantee, I believe this would mean that confidentiality agreements, in all seriousness, would be essentially meaningless. This group would have to be based on a certain level of trust, and a high degree of confidence that the majority of the participants here would support each other. That's why the power would truly be in witnessing ideas, when all is said and done. I brought up the idea of confidentiality agreements to get people thinking that confidence and security would be expected regardless. That's a fair trade in exchange for a very effective approach to inventing.
I know there's probably a bunch of people that haven't even looked at this thread because it already has so many pages. I will start a new thread soon, to summarize the rules for entry into the private forum. Anyone who wishes to enter would need to respond within that thread. For now, I welcome feedback on this, if anyone is still reading this far. You thought I was long-winded. This is nothing.