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Take, as an example, the ErgoDox keyboard.

This website https://www.ergodox.io/ makes this claim:

The entire project (including this website) is open source, allowing you the freedom to modify and tweak the project as you see fit.

There are indeed multiple companies making and selling this keyboard design internationally and calling it ErgoDox. Therefore, in practical terms, it certainly seems to be accepted as an "open source product".

However, to be open source doesn't just mean that the original creator does not enforce ownership of their creation, rather, they must effectively disclaim their right to enforce ownership in the future (though it may be limited to certain use cases, such as commercial vs. non-commercial).

As relating to patents, this means that for a product to be open source, it must be shown that the product is not and can not be patented.


How may a product become open source, as defined above? How may this be verified?

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  • This is off topic here
    – George White
    Oct 11, 2022 at 4:12

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Probably off-topic here since it seems to about licensing. However I’ll point out that a patent can be sought and granted and then officially “disclaimed”.

Alternatively inventors can publish a disclosure that would make later patenting impossible in most of the world and, after a year, also impossible in the US.

Companies like Tesla have made public promises not to attempt to enforce granted patents but might put subjective caveats that made the promise unreliable.

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  • My apologies about the topic issue. Keeping the discussion to U.S. patent law specifically, it seems you (and other sources) are saying that once the invention has been publicly known for one year, any attempts to patent after that point would be invalid. Oct 11, 2022 at 19:56
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    Yes - one can only patent what is new. In the US anything published even a day before filing is prior art that can show an invention as not novel. Unless it was disclosed by the inventor and then it can’t be used against the inventor for a year.
    – George White
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:32

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