Occupy innovation via open-sourcing

George Wiseman lives up to his name in regard to the wisdom of sharing. It’s not just a fine philosophy, it also provides income. Before the popularity of “open sourcing” business practices that produce free software and open hardware communities, he was already doing that type of sharing but calling it his patent-free philosophy.

I visited the inventor in Penticton BC, on my way home from the Conference on Future Energy, part of the Space Propulsion and Energy Sciences International Forum which I’ll report on in Infinite Energy magazine.  

George Wiseman invents fuel-saving and other energy-related innovations and he doesn’t hold back secrets’ of, nor patent, his work. It’s distributed worldwide as public knowledge, so no one else can legally patent it either because patent law says “public domain information” is not patentable.

 

Well, some people have tried and recently did succeed in patenting something George had already open-sourced. It slipped through the bureaucracy. “The patent office is very inefficient that way,” he says. “However in the end their patent will get thrown out.”

So how does Wiseman make a living and finance his ongoing research? His company (http://eagle-research.com) makes money immediately by selling books about his energy solutions, and selling other products such as do-it-yourself kits.

Instead of investing time and thousands of dollars getting a patent, he plows any profits back into further product development. He finds that gives a much better chance of getting the product into the marketplace and money into his pocket. Not to say that patents don’t apply in some situations, he says, but they just aren’t good for inventors in his situation. Instead he gets quick, inexpensive and sufficient protection with nondisclosure agreements, trademarks and copyrights.

Loyal buyers of his books and kits contribute suggestions for improving the next version of whatever product they bought. The knowledge becomes a shared innovation pool and speeds up research-and-development. It’s the grassroots answer to corporations’ high-priced research teams or “skunkworks.”

Some other inventors seeing what he’s accomplished are switching to Wiseman’s methods.

Their strategies have something in common with the emerging open-source civilization described in a recent article I read. Michel Baumens, a founder of the Peer-to-Peer Foundation, sees a new economic paradigm. Baumens points to the Occupy movement as an example of new business and value practices.

Although it’s a political movement, its participants when occupying a park had to forge ways to meet their physical needs — food, shelter and healthcare — as well as expressing their values. Their protest camp near Wall Street reached consensus through a general assembly and developed working groups and other practices that communities in extraordinary circumstances could modify to suit local needs. Baumens points out that that the citizens decided on the most appropriate system for getting their provisions, not the property owners “and money owners in an economy divorced from ethical values.”

Despite the chaos in this playpen called Earth, maybe the kids will work it out.

 

 

 

 

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