Regarding Lightning and Patents
A question was raised on lightning-dev regarding patents and the work being done on second level Bitcoin protocols like Lightning:
I just heard from a friend that Second Level Protocols such as Lightening Network can be patented if the author/inventor chooses to!
Is it possible? Am I missing something?
ZmnSCPxj elaborated on this topic by reminding that patent grants work based on the concept of prior art:
If the item being patented, is in the past (“prior”) already known among practitioners (“art”), then there is no need for the state to “pay for” revealing the design by granting a monopoly. Already, the design is revealed and known, so why should the state pay the inventor with a state-enforced monopoly?
So in regard to Lightning, the Poon-Dryja whitepaper on lightning was published in 2016 and we’re currently on 2018. Since the current Lightning design is being done publicly and continuously published in the lightning-rfc (thus a continious evidence that the design of Lightning is already known), and is based on the prior-art of Poon-Dryja paper, and neither of the authors have applied for patents, then the state will not bother to grant a patent to the inventors of Lightning, at least not in the case of honest agents who would not try to influence such decision with shady practices.
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