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Please forgive the cross-post I'm considering making the work I've done on my experimental VTOL aircraft scale model prototype design public in return for sales of code predicting the performance of the novel means of propulsion in Python, CAD models, possible book royalties and speaking/lecture fees. I have estimated an idealized lift to weight ratio of 1.6:1 but I have not built and tested a scale model prototype. What are your thoughts?

  • Doesn't this just come down to whether you want to allow others to use it for free or not? – Maca Oct 1 '17 at 21:10
  • Yes, it does, Maca. Something that I suppose Linus Torvalds and those like him considered while developing the Linux kernel. – David Walden Oct 2 '17 at 11:46
  • @DavidWalden Since Linux is a UNIX clone, I highly doubt it would have been patentable. – Eric S Oct 2 '17 at 23:08
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To assess the pros and cons of going with a patent requires you to understand the economics of your market. I'm going to assume you are thinking people will want to build experimental VTOL aircraft. My guess is there are relatively few people that want to do the design work. For this reason, I doubt you can get much income from selling software. In addition, Python is an interpreted language so the software will be really hard to protect. If you are an academic, there can be significant career advantages to publications but otherwise, I doubt book sales would be extensive for the same reason as software sales. Airplane homebuilders might be interested, but probably more for predesigned kits or plans. Perhaps only large aerospace corporations will be interested. Corporations are potentially a significant source of licensing income, but only if you have a patent and probably patents in several countries. Now my assessment of the potential market is very likely ignorant or naive so you have to do your own. So here is my list of pros and cons for a patent.

Pros

  • Allows for licensing opportunities to aerospace companies.
    • Licensing can be exclusive or nonexclusive so there are various options for income.
  • Doesn't preclude any of the other options like software sales, book deals or speeches.

Cons

  • Patents cost money, potentially many thousands of dollars.
  • You can't communicate anything publicly about your invention until applications are filed.
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