ASI Safety Lab

IP, Patents, Copyrights, and Open-Source

In full disclosure: I have filed for patent protection for most technical features that I have described on this website. I am not intending to abuse the US patent system for financial gains or for undue influence on the further development of ASI Safety technologies.

Filing these patents will cost me a small fortune. I have made an entrepreneurial decision and I hope that I will at least recoup my investment or die trying.

Most of the technologies are designed to end in Standards anyway. Therefore, I will make all required patents available for licensing. Usually, commercial products/services, in particular, their manufacturer can receive a Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) license — which is typical for standard-related and relevant inventions. Usually, software-related features will be royalty-free. For getting the details on these licensing issues right, I will consult experts – but that won’t change my intention.

I talked with several proponents of open-source and their concern about patenting technologies. I came to the conclusion that it is not about the specific type of legal rights associated with a contribution, but how one intends to utilize the rights. Gaining some money from a FRAND license is in no way moving the needle in the use of technology. Companies involved with technology are professionals — and I believe, most companies are trying to do the right thing and try to avoid legal risks and liabilities.

Open Source is creating copyrights that are licensed with different types of license agreements to its users as well. One can argue that there is only a gradual difference in how certain license types could be turned into a detrimental tool for progress.

The great advantage of open source is that it can be analyzed and probed for vulnerabilities by everyone. Actually, I would prefer that all product details, in particular hardware details, are published and publicly discussed. If that doesn’t happen, I am concerned that some hardware components are much weaker than they should and could be. In my post about Goals and Incentives, I discuss this issue and propose that technical experts give open or anonymized ratings and reviews on the technical details that they were studying. It should not be as simple as everyone has a right to an opinion; expertise matters, thoughtfulness matters, expert opinions matter. This rating system should motivate manufacturers to be more forthcoming with the details they are implementing. We won’t be able to remove the use of NDA’s, but we may be able to discourage or limit their utilization to aspects that are less relevant to the safety or security of the product.

I have studied W3C a bit. It is a model that I may copy for getting the Standards developed and established. It could also be an efficient way in getting further research into ASI Safety funded.

I made the decision to reinvest large portions of the fees from licensing in product development. Commercial or not-commercial is for me more a matter of incentives to get progress and accelerate progress. I am committed to paying forward to developers (including open source developers), engineers, and startup entrepreneurs as much as possible because I believe this will help the technology to grow and become an important commercial branch of technology — and which would help everyone in the value chain. However, I would also not mind donating resources to the improvement of the living quality of fellow humans, but also to research.

Obviously, I will assign the patents to a (startup) business; this means I will raise money from Angel-Investors and potentially from VCs, and they want to see a return. Therefore, the licensing should and will not be the sole revenue source of that business — instead, I consider incubating startups (primarily in exchange for shares). I envision this incubator as a Lab-Corporation that will try to organize for these startup teams resources and connections required to be acquired by other/larger companies — or if we are lucky, we have a home run among them.

The Lab-Corporation will be in the center of ASI-Safety and hopefully attract many talents. Innovation is risky, commercializing ideas and products is risky. Therefore, getting teams merged with established upstream technology companies lowers the financial risks, and it could serve a triple win: for the teams, for the acquiring companies, and for Lab-Corp.

The goal is to create a transparent, global community of experts and technologists. People may switch teams temporarily or permanently, or they form or merge into new (global) teams. The promise behind the Lab Corp is that each team will receive the support and resources so that it can be competitive even with teams from established players. Not every team will win, but Lab-Corp can certainly support talented engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to have a successful career in ASI Safety — and that will make ASI Safety-Lab an attractive environment to thrive and rise.