Patents for an open source project sound scary, but it makes sense.
Blockstream announced a defensive patent strategy. Patents can make open-source partisans queasy, but a defensive stragegy is exactly what the ecosytem needs to protect itself from charlatans and trolls.
Bitcoin was born of the open source movement, the sort of passionate fervor that makes you want to scream STALLMAN! late in the night, while charging the Oracle campus gates. And open consensus model blockchains have added another layer of “open” to the mix: both software and consensus methods should be unencumbered by permissions for maximum libre!
So it’s no surprise that talk of patents tends to get this community riled up. This week Blockstream announced its defensive patent strategy, which indeed involves seeking patents on some of the awesome tech they’ve been developing. But before you go grab a gnu-pitchfork or libre-flaming-torch, consider the alternative: a world where some outsider or troll gets patents to this technology and uses them to hold the entire ecosystem hostage. Blockstream is doing the right thing: seeking patents so they can be used (and only ever used) to defeat the claims of charlatans and trolls (our space has a few).
This is the same IP strategy that’s been effectively employed by Google, Tesla, and a host of other cool kids who understand that innovation = open. We hope more companies and developers will join Blockstream in this effort.
Image credit to the always on-point XKCD.