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Is open source protected in any way if I haven't filed for a patent myself? Maybe a specific license? Any examples of open source projects that introduced 'inventions' that could be patented (but they were not) would be really appreciated.

And please take into consideration: design & utility patents.

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In general, no: once you've published your idea (whether as open source or not), it becomes part of the "prior art" and is no longer eligible to be patented. Patents are for innovation, and almost by definition something can't be innovative if it's just taking someone else's idea.

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