NASA Auctions off Federally Funded Patents

Nov 1, 2010
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NASA Auctions off Federally Funded Patents

Hang a left on over to your local NASA swap meet and garage sale because NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is setting an auction up for exclusive lisence to five patents for automated software development. This happens in a little over a week on November 11, 2010, and includes patents which encompass a new method for auto-creating software code which is verifiably equivalent to "user requirements specified in natural language, graphic formats, or other formats with a known semantic structure." Why is this important? Because you were the one who funded the research that lead up to these patents in the first place.

To find out more about the technology, shoot on over to SpaceREF and read their article on how neato it is and how much people are going to want to buy it. This sort of auctioning off of research-cum-patents is, to some, a spit in the face of copyright law that decided that all federal government documents released are release into the public domain. In some other countries, this type of information is covered by crown copyright which holds it back from the public.

If released into the public domain, this Automated Software Generation could very possibly be used to benefit both commercial and non-commercial projects headed by the people who technically payed for its generation: the taxpayers. Instead, as TechDirt says it so eloquently, "By auctioning off a patent monopoly, it will almost certainly be using taxpayer-funded research to stifle innovation."

What do you think? Is this how copyright was supposed to work? Or is this a special situation where it makes more sense to generate cash for the government group to do more research?

[Via TechDirt]


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