Cointelegraph: Maidsafe founder seeks monopoly on distributed network system

MaidSafe founder David Irvine asked the U.S. government in June 2014 to create and enforce a monopoly on his behalf. On January 1 of this year, the U.S. government agreed to do so. The monopolistic grab goes by another name, too: patent.

Read the entire article:


I love the comments posted :smile:. As stated in them, quite a twisted representation, MaidSafe Foundation holds the patents as a matter of defense.


I do think we should write to cointelegraph and demand a rebuttal. @nicklambert

Thanks for posting this to the forum !



Yes I ended up posting a comment and have agreed to go on worldcryptonet to discuss it later today (17:00 GMT). If anything this sector needs good deep investigative journalists who get to the truths. Kashmir Hill is really good at that, but even deeper. That way there would be less chance for scams and less spreading of rubbish and lies. IT would also be good for projects to really be put against a wall and questioned to get their core values in the open.


I absolutely agree, there are a lot of awful pieces about Bitcoin and Maidsafe but this one is horrible. I can’t believe the writer is professional one or do they have guest writers on cointelegraph?

I see David Irvine already responded in the comment section:

David Irvine:

Perhaps a few mins reading would have helped, or even talking to the people involved to get at least some of the facts. In any case here they are
1: Code is released
2: Code is all available under GPL3
3: If we allowed people to build on our systems and large companies to patent around them, then we fail
4: These patents as you can even see in your picture are attributed (owned) by a registered charity whose charitable goals are the education of all and the freedom to innovate (provide maker spaces and the like, but free and possibly paid accommodation for inventors).
5: This charity was set up with 50% of the companies shares (my holdings, the remaining 30% I owned is in an employee scheme at zero cost to them and this was all done at zero cost to the company TL;DR I own no shares in MaidSafe and maidsafe is majority owned by a charity and the staff)
6: If some large profit mad company tried to take out maidsafe then the foundation can protect the code and protections and ensure the future of the works.

There is a lot more, but if you did want to really investigate how I have handled setting up the company and what I have done by giving 100% of my efforts away then you are welcome to do a piece on that. I believe all companies should work this way and give as much as possible to staff and be majority run by charities with stated goals. I created the foundation with my shares, but took no seat in it as that would be against my principles (it need to do what it can to achieve its goals and I am too focussed on getting Privacy security and Freedom to all the worlds people).

So I would have been more than happy to straighten some of that out and if you peek hard at yer picture you will see what I mean. I am just the inventor here, and never asked for a monopoly, in fact we encourage competing POD’s as we call them, independent dev units across the world. Yes we supply code, help even cash (but if we had raised more liquid cash in the crowd sale then we could do more). So this seems the opposite of a monopoly.

It’s also worth noting a patent application is not a monopoly request, dunno about where you are from but the monopolies commission really does not like monopolies and if the USPO was a place to apply for monopolies then …

To finish, lets be clear my opinion on patents is I detest what they have become, but I am aware you need the legal protections to fend off the corporate “bull” that inevitably happens as we grow. We actually have applications from 2007 that will help defend bitcoin as well, or maybe you do want to take a knife to a gunfight :slight_smile: I won’t and I will strongly defend the ability for people to access all information all the time and the freedom to create and build a better world where we encourage thinkers and builders to think and build and not shove them in lab-coats in the basement of some multi national who may feed them crumbs from their own table. A world where developers artists and the like get paid direct from a network measuring their reach and not with some fancy marketing, there is so much you could have asked and got answers to, it is a real shame you did not.

What are you prepared to do!


Nevertheless great and timely response from you David, kudos.

I mean your responses in general are really noteworthy and I’m sure that puts many people who are invested(mentally or financially) in maidsafe at peace


This article maybe about the fact that Maidsafe isn’t blockchain technology.
So they attack…

I emailed the author and posted it as a comment (when the email seemed broken - it later worked).

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I think they removed your comment Mark, I cannot see it now.




Really surprised at the article, I have been emailing the editor (Toni Lane Casserly) off and on recently on some others things, but I guess we should treat this as a training ground on some of what we can expect from blogs trying to increase traffic (and ad revenue) or just plain lazy journalists. I think David and others have suitably rebuffed in the comments, but I will write to Toni and find out why they didn’t ask us for comment before publishing and encourage them to do a more comprehensive piece covering all aspects of our company ethos. Great job by everyone jumping on this so quickly!


Yeah…I think we’re like them Meerkats…Melvin spotted the snake, so we all come running…lol

Nice one Melvin…


They put a nice big disclaimer on top clearing up the error, maybe they are bashing the endeavor since anything except Bitcoin is a threat to Bitcoin, heh…

At least more articles are being written, this is a good sign that people are starting to come up with ideas… Even though some are the wrong ideas factually.

Here is David being interviewed about the article and explaining why he took out the patents. It is long but some useful nuggets even for me.

One of the best parts is David’s explanation of how patents could be used to kill the platform if MaidSafe didn’t have the defenses in place.

At 1:38:45 David explains the purpose of the patents with an example:

  1. You invent the wheel (i.e. MaidSafe’s SAFE network = a platform on which others can build).
  2. Others patent specific “applications” of your invention such as making a car, a cart, a train using your wheel.
  3. Now no-one can build a car, cart or train without going to the patent holder.

But since MaidSafe has umbrella patents, no-one can do step 2) because MaidSafe will use the patents to defend anyone these trolls attack to prevent building things on the network. He then explains how bitcoin could be crushed using ASIC patents…


Excellent precis of the rebuttal to the article HappyBeing. This sums things up nicely for people so they can easily understand the reasoning behind the defensive patents .

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I just had to say something there for maidsafe, I am glad we as a community handled this incident well.


Why the heck did ‘Jamie’ bring ‘Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof’ of Bitnation in on the call? This thickens the plot for me. I don’t think articles like this CT one, are by accident.

Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, BitNation Founder and CEO, is an international entrepreneur, tech investor, and writer. She has worked in Sweden, France, Brazil, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, United States, Libya, Egypt and Indonesia in the past. In 2008 she started Wise Strategic Communication, the first Afghan strategic communication company, which she sold in February 2011 to a US contracting firm. In the wake of the Arab Spring, in 2011 she started Shabakat Corporation in Egypt and Libya to support local grassroots movements. After the end of the civil war in Libya she turned Shabakat into a technology company, to provide crypto investment consultancy, currency mining in Indonesia, and other frontier applications.

Sorry, dont trust you Susanne…

@dirvine on Bitnation:

Count me out to smile global governance on any system like this is extremely dangerous, look at human rank debates we have, the edge cases allowing global control are very scary I think. Talk of buying protection and armies of vigilantes etc. are just crying out danger to me. This btination seems to offer everything including what’s wrong today, to everyone, I would hate to spread that to the third world as we grow.

I see big finance adopting bitcoin via regulation, imagine this happened on a blockchain that was regulated by the finance sector. I am oot o there man wink

Interesting idea, would be a great debate etc. but no I would be wary of jumping on such a thing, try seastead instead, try different things not put us all on the same system of governance.


I think this is an important distinction from what was said in the article, by itself.

and this is very true, and has been discussed before. It’s a shame people are bringing it up again… What an unnecessary bother :frowning:

Thanks @BenMS for your patience with the people out there :slight_smile:

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Yes… and I was not aware that the requirement for a Foundation in the UK were so rigorous.

I wonder if there is a graphic that demonstrates the ownership/ patent structure of Maidsafe, highlighting the important points David made in this interview. I’m sure this will come up again…

The other thing that was highlighted to me, was the fact that you can put anything in a patent, but what really counts are the ‘claims’ …so the text quoted by CT was a furfy.

The interesting question is, who actually read the patent and pulled that quote out for scrutiny…I bet many here have not even had a look at the patent.


Thanks for her background. Sounds like CIA front type stuff, though I’m not prepared to wave a finger on that score.

The main outness is that in the interview itself, she refused to get the underlying point that the purpose of a GPL3 license is to ensure that another patent can’t be made and used to shut of the free usage of the technology. Perhaps David could have stated it more definitively, but he did fantastically in the face of the confusion the others put forward.

She kept using the “How can we trust Maidsafe to not enforce the patent” card. This is where I think David could have been more explicit. As I understand it, the Maidsafe Foundation can’t sue to get anyone to stop using the patented/licensed material. The only suit it could reasonably bring would be to force someone to open their code if they forked or modified, and closed their modifications in violation of the license.

It shouldn’t have been that hard to get the point across, which David continually tried to do. Neither the interviewer or Susanne had actually done any real homework in order to understand the issue, but rather waffled around with opinions out of context.

@dirvine, my only advice is that, in the future, to start out with a clear definition of what the restrictions of the types of patents and licenses in question are, as well as why Maidsafe uses them. Then, when they stray, you can just keep bringing them back to the base parameters by repeating the definitions and perhaps giving examples.

Your effort was patient and really made some wonderful points. My only criticism would be that you focused on the latter (why Maidsafe uses patents, etc.) rather than clarifying the type of licenses, and what Maidsafe CAN’T do with them.

She couldn’t get over the idea that because you’d filed for licenses and patents, that would suddenly give you the power to do nasty stuff–if you wanted to at a some time. Personally, I really doubt that she is that ignorant, but whether she is or not, her approach plays to the general misconception that if you’ve got any type of patent/license scheme, you’re up to no good.