I have been considering a wikipedia style system for code (software), and am trying to figure out what the patent implications are. Aside from the risk of accidentally violating someone else's patent (that would be a separate question), I wonder if patents can exist at all in that system. If all changes are made online, and published basically immediately online, and mostly peer-reviewed and possibly built on almost instantly, does that inherently preclude the contributor (inventor) from patenting their work?
On the one hand, it sounds like it might be patent-able, because the "inventor" is an identifiable contributor, and they would normally have a one year grace period that they would be allowed to file a patent.
But since they are contributing to an existing system, within the context of a public forum, and most likely with help (in the form of other users' contributions), I would think that would make it prior art that precludes filing a patent even within the 1 year grace period after publication.
Can anyone clear that up?