Will Using Fuller’s Projection Get You in Trouble?

Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map: is the projection it uses patented, trademarked or copyrighted to the extent that you have to pay a licencing fee or face a lawsuit? Daniel Huffman digs into this very question, which apparently has been circulating around the cartographic world for some time. “Here’s the summary of what I’ve concluded: if you don’t pay a license fee before you publish a map that uses the Fuller projection, you may find yourself hearing from the projection’s ‘owner.’ At the same time, I don’t think that the owner (the Buckminster Fuller Institute) has any rights that would actually hold up in court.”

More on Patents and Cartographic Inventions

Earlier this year I mentioned the publication of Mark Monmonier’s latest book, Patents and Cartographic Inventions. This week at All Over the Map, Betsy Mason does a bit more than mention the book, with a closer look at some of the more unusual patents from Monmonier’s book: an early voice navigation system, a map folding method, and a rural address system. (None of which caught on, of course.)

Patents and Cartographic Inventions

Published late last month, Mark Monmonier’s new book, Patents and Cartographic Inventions: A New Perspective for Map History (Palgrave Macmillan) is on a somewhat more arcane and non-obvious subject than his usual fare. It’s an exploration of the U.S. patent system that focuses on map- and navigation-related inventions. The publisher’s description: “In probing evolving notions of novelty, non-obviousness, and cumulative innovation, Mark Monmonier examines rural address guides, folding schemes, world map projections, diverse improvements of the terrestrial globe, mechanical route-following machines that anticipated the GPS navigator, and the early electrical you-are-here mall map, which opened the way for digital cartography and provided fodder for patent trolls, who treat the patent largely as a license to litigate.” Actually sounds interesting as hell; the book is quite expensive, though. Amazon, iBooks.