TV-B-Gone inventor Mitch Altman was quoted on the Make blog today with some interesting experience on open sourcing his product:
"Even though my project was not open source, I benefited from the open source community. People hacked TV-B-Gone remote controls in wonderfully creative ways. (Search online for "TV-B-Gone hacks" and you'll get the idea.) These hacks increased the product's popularity, resulting in more sales and more people around the world experiencing the satisfaction of turning off TVs."
a TV-B-Gone - image from Maker Shed
Read more here at Make. Its interesting that when Mitch set out, he was going very much down the patenting route and it was only when he went to a hacker meet that he was first exposed to "people who are very critical of patents and other forms of intellectual property law". Now the TV-B-Gone (a remote for switching off any TV you aim it at) is sold open source from Maker Shed and the source code, board layout, TV power codes, and all documentation, will be available online.