Workshop Topics for conference
August 27, 2008 at 11:53 pm #3661
I am the person who is being a stick in the mud about patents. I was in a patent fight when I was at Sun Microsystems and it was pretty unpleasant. The whole fight would have been avoided if we had simply sat down and applied for the patent when I told management that we should.
Given how long many of us have dreamed of real viable seasteads, the additional delay of waiting for the provisional patent application to be filed does not seem that extreme to me. It will add a one or two month delay before we can start showing some pictures of what our Marine folks have come up with.
Anyhow, don’t beat up Patri on this issue. I’m the one to beat up!August 28, 2008 at 12:36 am #3664
Yes. In the US, non-profits can have patents. In the US, non-profits are basically required to license them out using RAND (Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) policies.August 28, 2008 at 12:41 am #3665
Yes. Non-profits can sell goods and services, just so long as they have no profit.
My father worked for the Graphics Arts Technical Foundation (a non-profit in the printing industry) for years in the technical services (i.e. consulting) department. The technical services department generated lots of “profit” that was spent by the rest of the organization.August 28, 2008 at 1:12 am #3668
If patent delay is really only a month or two then it is not a big deal. I have never heard of things moving with that speed but I have very limited exposure.September 8, 2008 at 10:44 am #3759
Questions about governments, relationships with existing states, etc., likely should take a back seat to technical and funding issues at this point, except to raise some awareness of general background issues. Declaring statehood is impractical until defense against existing states is possible, so it’s not really available in the immediate future. Given that, the platform will need to follow the laws of its flagging nation, though in practical terms that’s also not much of an issue. Liberia or Panama probably don’t do much law enforcement on their flagged ships at sea, and platforms IIRC are treated like ships under the laws of the sea. Expect to be boarded by coast guards, navies, etc., for inspections, like any ship at sea. In principle those folks will expect general international norms to be followed (no slavery, no drug smuggling, etc.). In practice the people with guns and missiles make the rules, so how it will actually play out is unknown.
Getting a seastead funded and built is the first task. Coming up with viable business models is closely intertwined. Political innovation will need to come much later. Therefore technical and funding issues are the first order of business.
At this early stage, treat things like a business venture, focussing on: location, marketing, funding, transportation, business models, etc. Assume it will need to start in someone else’s territorial waters, generally follow their rules, etc. Unfortunately that may limit some of the initial businesses, but in the long term that may be less of an issue.
On ther other hand, general and early agreement about relational norms may prevent future problems. For example, I would personally favor mutual agreements between steads to trade peacefully and not harm (initiate force) or otherwise interfere with each other. Beyond that, the internal organization of each stead could be independently arrived at. A basic agreement along those lines may be all that’s necessary to create peaceful coexistence between steads. Basically it’s trade, live and let live on a stead scale. In a sense that’s minimally political. Perhaps agreement on some very basic organizational concepts may be possible and desirable up front. On the other hand, that’s generally how private ships relate with each other so maybe it’s a not much of an issue?
I’m interested in trying to predict and prevent some of the possible failure modes, organizational, technical, financial, personal, etc. Perhaps the greatest unknown beyond funding is how existing states would treat a stead, even fully within its own waters and generally conforming with its rules.September 8, 2008 at 8:54 pm #3764
I agree with your arguments about priorities, yet still im not sure thats what the conference should focus on.
I suppose it depends on how you view the conference in the first place: id say its in large part a teambuilding event, and not so much about the specific topics themselves: even if it doesnt generate any concrete output in the form of new ideas, it would be a huge succes to me if i just got to see the faces behind the screen names, so that seasteading becomes something more tangible than just letters on a screen, or ideas in my head.September 9, 2008 at 6:00 am #3769
I’d enjoy meeting more of the people interested in seasteading also, but I hope we also start talking about some of the key practical issues.September 9, 2008 at 9:56 pm #3774
There are also potentially large downside scenarios with patents.
I have personally been in situations where people who claimed that the only purpose for a patent was defensive were later turned to the dark side by people telling them that its all just part of how the game is played. You never know who might be running The Seasteading Institute 10 years from now.
Additionally, when you patent something, you are giving the government a license to exercise control over a technology – it is now considered property – property that can be lost or stolen. If the Seasteading institute is ever successfully sued, or goes bankrupt, control of your technologies can be lost to others. If the government decides that what you are doing is dangerous, it might even try to make a case for a seizure of your intellectual property under eminent domain, and if you are not charging what the market will bear that just makes it easier for them to claim that someone else can put this property to better use for generating tax dollars.
Of course all of these problems can probably be avoided after you get your patents by issuing some sort of universal unrevokable license to all parties to use your technology freely. If your intention is purely defensive against other patent claims, there is no reason not to do this immediately upon being awarded any particular patent.
– Sean Hastings
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. SeussSeptember 16, 2008 at 10:45 pm #3827
I think we should have a session about what areas we need volunteers to take on and manage projects.September 28, 2008 at 4:48 pm #3922
There’s no such thing as a defensive patent, a patent is always an agression.
Let’s say I break up into everyone’s home at night, and attach a very light but deadly remote controlled explosive charge at the base of their head, a charge they cannot remove. In the morning, I then proceed to tell everyone : don’t you worry, I didn’t do anything wrong, these charges are purely for defensive purpose, I’ll only detonate it if you try to agress me.
Besides, even if TSI claims the patent is defensive, businesses will be more reluctant to develop the technology since it risks being sued. Also, as was said previously, a patent may be seized by creditors or wors the government. And who knows, maybe an offshore drilling company will approach the TSI in a few years with a couple of millions in order to license a technology. Will the TSI management be strong enough to turn down the money ? Why risk the temptation ?September 30, 2008 at 11:11 pm #3928
I’m on the board of Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), which publishes Communities magazine and a directory online and in print. I’ve visited 80 different cohousing neighborhoods, lived in two, and helped co-create one, and I’m advising on some others. These are all, on one level or another, aspiring EcoVillages, in the process of living more lightly on the land through cooperation and mutual support in their shared visions.
While Seasteading of course has its own unique challenges, I do believe that the movement can learn a lot from the experiences of people banding together with a common vision, bringing in resources to support not just the physical infrastructure (greening your “stick and bricks” will only go so far), but the social structure, decision-making tools, facilitation/group process, conflict resolution, and the like.
If others are interested, I’d be delighted to be able to participate in a session that both looks at some case studies and some of the ways that communities have dealt with resource sharing, and how the physical layout and ownership structure affects the social relations. We could brainstorm ways in which things would be different in a seasteading context, and prioritize research on addressing the key concerns before they become entrenched problems.October 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm #3932
I very much agree that seasteading should draw lessons from land-based communities. I think that this is not a key enough topic to address at the conference. But I think it would be a great talk for a future social, which we have about once a month.October 2, 2008 at 4:32 pm #3933
Yeah thats certainly interesting. Will you be attending the conference?December 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm #4598
>Given how long many of us have dreamed of real viable seasteads, the additional delay of waiting
>for the provisional patent application to be filed does not seem that extreme to me. It will add a one
>or two month delay before we can start showing some pictures of what our Marine folks have come up with.
>If patent delay is really only a month or two then it is not a big deal. I have never heard of things moving
>with that speed but I have very limited exposure.
> That is the design we are patenting and will soon be releasing along with models and engineering analysis.
> Once that is wrapped up, in a month or two,[...]
Now 4 months later the patent is still going to add another month or two delay. I am glad that the single-family-seastead plans will be open source.
— VinceDecember 30, 2008 at 5:32 am #4602
There are two parts to the patent process — provisional and non-provisional. The provisional is a partial patent that sort of reserves your space in the patent examination queue. I thougt we could publish immediately after the non-provisional was submitted, but I was wrong. (The non-provisional went into USPTO in October.) Unfortunately, in order to reserve the right for “international” patents, we have to withhold publication until the non-provisional patent is submitted. (I misunderstood this.) We are very likely to submit “international” patent applications for China and Korea, since they have the required ship building facilities at the most reasonable labor costs. (The “international” is in quotes, since there really is no such thing as an internation patent; instead you have to submit the patent in each specific country.)
We are going full steam ahead with the non-provisional patent. We have received the final drawings for the non-provisional today. The first draft of the non-provisional was received last week and is being reviewed by an engineer at Marine Innovation and Technology (the marine architects who are doing the design.) We have told the patent attorney that we are publishing no later than January 20th.
Thanks for keeping the heat on me, I deserve it.
Everybody is happier that that the next batch of design for the smaller seasteads (the so called single family seastead) will be done in a public fashion. Nobody wants to do this patent stuff again.
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