Research exemption – calm down, it’s ok to “make” something for fun that’s patented

After releasing the “Open source Homeland Security non-lethal weapon – The Do-it-yourself handheld LED-based Incapacitator” a few folks around the web emailed or posted saying “you can’t build that for yourself, or even for fun, it’s patented!” – This comes up once and awhile in the world of making things, perhaps it’s a good conversation starter- here’s a snip from a wikipedia article on “Research exemption”…

“In patent law, the research exemption or safe harbour exemption is an exemption to the rights conferred by patents”…

… and from a previous case where this seems to have been tested, the court(s) said –

“experimental use defense” for “amusement, to satisfy idle curiosity, or for strictly philosophical inquiry.”

We’re not lawyers, this is not legal advice – that said, this seems to makes sense. Imagine drug companies needing to wait until a patent expires to figure out if they can make a generic drug… or imagine everyone sitting on their hands not able to test the claims on a patent for “amusement, to satisfy idle curiosity, or for strictly philosophical inquiry”… making things for yourself to see how things work is fun – do research on your own about things you see/hear as well as questioning what “armchair patent experts” say on the internet. Oh, the “Do-it-yourself handheld LED-based Incapacitator” is not for sale, it’s not a kit, but you can read all about it.

Agree, disagree? Have something to add? Post up in the comments with your thoughts!


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