In the Open Discussion session, the question of patents came up. Both in regard to “stealing ideas” from workshop discussions and patenting them, and in regard to the content of standards.
Addressing the latter, to get a preliminary feel for community sentiments, I’d like to put up the following for informal poll. This is not binding, and merely a calibration for further deliberation and exploration of concrete options.
Prescriptive output of the ZKProof process, such as guidelines and standards:
(1) Must be free from patents.
(2) May be patent-encumbered only if this is disclosed, and accompanied by licenses that allow free use (in a sense to be determined).
This is intentionally simplistic. In particular, (1) is impossible to achieve perfectly, because of potential submarine patents by third parties. Also, (2) has many nuances, and studying how it was realized by some standard organizations shows that it’s not trivial to implement. But let’s first see where high-level sentiments lie.