Creating “Commons Domains”

I’ve lately been involved in a discussion thread on “why we need software patents or if we should kill them“. My position is clearly that patents are a value destruction for the entire community. But the problem is that they create a rent for certain actors and it makes it then difficult for political action to act for the common good when financial powers is concentrated in the hands of a few beneficiaries.

While thinking of a way we could come to the desired end without waiting for politicians to realize where the common good is, I’ve just had the idea of “Commons Domains”. A Commons Domain would actually be an ambitious extension of the notion of a patent pool. The idea would be to create an institution to administer a Commons Domain, a Domain where any signing company would consider that all their IP would belong to the pool of companies.

While at first this may appeal to companies with no IP, I think there may be a twist so that it becomes a winning machine over the IP oriented rent seekers. In fact, once a company has signed into a Commons Domain, and when it is facing with the prospect of patenting a new idea, it could:
1 – patent the idea and try to make money on the companies that did not sign in the Domain
2 – put the idea in the Public Domain for the good of the entire community
3 – propose the idea to the Domain’s institution who could choose to patent the idea or not

The interesting aspect is that there is an accelerating effect. Once you start having a few valuable patents within the Domain, the interest for other companies to adhere and bring potentially more IP within the Domain grows.

I would be interested by your reactions and why not, see how we could rapidly create the first Commons Domain.

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