Throughout AtFAB’s design and research process, we have assumed we’d go through the usual channels with our intellectual property: protect the idea and control its dissemination. This most conventional option would lead us to sell AtFAB products, to license the system to others who’d produce and sell it, or to save the patents for a rainy day. However, is there more success and possibly broader impact in opening AtFAB up than in protecting it?
As AtFAB’s rollout is almost upon is, protection and exclusivity seem at odds with an inherently open concept: a design platform upon which others can build. We’re starting to see that the community, feedback, and proliferation, which openness would provide, are far more valuable to us at this moment, than ownership of a static idea. We like the idea of the pieces being sampled and finding their way into other incarnations that we couldn’t have anticipated. We’ve started to explore two-tiered licensing, which works similarly to music downloads, where like a musician, we’d charge very little for personal downloads but more for commercial applications. We’ll be setting AtFAB designs loose with copyright protection, but making them open to individual adaptation through Creative Commons Licensing.