One of the biggest and trendiest buzzwords flying around today is the term “open source movement.” This idea is especially popular within the tech industry and software development. It all started as a simple idea back in 1998 in the digital mecca that is Palo Alto, California.
From there it grew and evolved into a full-blown manifesto. This creed, by which many swear, is a simple one.
Whatever you do or make, give it away for free so others can build with it and make it better.
Proponents of open source argue that by giving ideas, products, and code away it drives innovations by means of global collaboration, which is good for any industry.
A prime example of this is what Tesla Motors did in 2014. The electric car pioneer decided it was in the best interest of the electric car industry to release all their patents to the public.
“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
On the other hand, some disagree with the open source movement. Those against open source argue that competition, not collaboration, drives innovation. After all, competition sparked the space race and put a man on the moon.
Furthermore, while open source might be good for the industry, it’s bad for business. When the ideas of a business are protected it can leverage those ideas to grow. If those ideas are open sourced, the basic rules of supply and demand make it hard to profit from those ideas.
The battle of patents versus open source is likely to continue for a long time. Progressive innovation is the ultimate goal of both sides, they just have polarizing ideologies.
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