Bonum Certa Men Certa

NASA Gives Back What It Took Away in the Form of Patent Monopolies for Private Gain

NASA Windows



Summary: Criticism of NASA's habit of clinging onto patents when it is actually the public which pays for everything

THE ISSUE that we occasionally tackle here in Techrights (and the #techrights IRC channel) is unjust monopoly acquired or protected by hoarding of patents. It is especially unjust when it's public money (tax) subsidising this kind of monopoly. Such was the case with NASA when it sold patents (paid for by the public) to patent trolls about 3 years ago. NASA had previously helped protect and expand Microsoft's illegal monopoly [1, 2, 3].



"Some of the people who helped NASA build its rockets are the same people (and by extension their teams) that helped launch rockets into London in the second world war."This time, for a change, NASA decides to give these patents back to those who paid for them, setting these patents free to all [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. It is claimed that as many as 1200 patents (if not more) will be set free, but there are some caveats (see headlines that mention "free access to its patents for startup entrepreneurs").

NASA's work is funded by taxpayers, so the very idea of them 'donating' patents is ludicrous (or indicative of corruption). NASA shouldn't waste its time on patents in the first place; it can just publish its ideas and inventions in its public-facing Web site.

Don't romanticise too much over NASA and its glorified patents. Yours truly used to believe the popular lie that space exploration of NASA gave us Teflon. Well, Teflon was made for nuclear weapons (cold war), so even this isn't a good example of NASA's so-called 'inventions'. Some of the people who helped NASA build its rockets are the same people (and by extension their teams) that helped launch rockets into London in the second world war.

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