Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Open Source Architecture?

Time seems to be ripe for the development of an open design license for architecture. The manifesto of Open Source Architecture (OSArc) has been published few months ago in domus.

Yesterday, Daniel Davis raised the exciting question, whether Evolute is right to patent a certain geometry of a freeform roof construction.

This question is related to the discussion, whether it is right and possible to patent architecture in general. In 2007, there has been a heated discussion in Switzerland and internationally, about a patent by the Swiss architect Hans Zwimpfer, concerning a special housing type. After a fight with the Swiss architectural societies BSA and SIA, he managed to claim patent rights for his invention in Europe and the USA. While this US lawyer defends the idea of applying patent law to architecture in specific cases, this Swiss lawyer states that it is more appropriate to protect a work of architecture, as cultural artifact, by the more flexible copyright law, rather than the rigorous patent law.

Considering that patent law seems to be applicable to the rather fuzzy case of Zimpfer’s architectural innovation, there seems to be a good chance for Pottmann and RFR to defend their protected rights concerning geometric innovation of support structures.

The introduction of an Open Source Architecture license may be a way to actively defend intellectual property in architecture against protection by others.

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