Monopoly of intellectual property rights is limited. By territory, scope and time. The maximum protection of patents usually do not last longer than 20 years (with exception of drug patents, that can get additional 5 years of protection).
So, unless you are trying to cover your patent rights with other IP protection (like Lego was trying to do in the Lego brick case), after patent lapses everyone is free to use your invention, base new ideas on it, produce and sell same goods, etc.
We looked what inventions have been placed in the market in 1996 and for sure are in the public domain in 2016.
Nr. 1. WebTV
WebTV was invented in 1996 by Diba Inc and Zenith Electronics, who produced and marketed the first WebTV sets. Year later, Microsoft bought the WebTV network for $425 million dollars and have trademarked the name. Today, webtv is an add-on device that compliments a regular television, usually a box that provides the internet connection and conversion of web pages for viewing on your own television screen with an added special remote control and keyboard so that you can surf from your sofa in comfort.
Nr. 2. Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform created by Macromedia and currently developed and distributed by Adobe Systems. Since its introduction in 1996, Flash has become a popular method for adding animation and interactivity to web pages. Jonathan Gay wrote the Flash code in 1996 by while in college and extended it while working for Silicon Beach Software and its successors.
Nr. 3. Motorola StarTAC
StarTAC is a clamshell mobile phone manufactured by Motorola. It was released on January 3, 1996, being the first ever clamshell/flip mobile phone.
Nr. 4. Deep blue
IBM Deep Blue was a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. It is known for being the first piece of artificial intelligence to win both a chess game and a chess match against a reigning world champion under regular time controls. Deep Blue won its first game against a world champion on February 10, 1996, when it defeated Garry Kasparov in game one of a six-game match.
Nr. 5. Nintendo 64
It was Nintendo's third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit central processing unit, it was released in June 1996 in Japan.
Nr. 6. Bait car
A bait car is a vehicle used by a law enforcement agency to capture car thieves. The vehicles are specially modified with features including GPS tracking and hidden cameras that record audio, video, time and date, which can all be remotely monitored by police. A remote-controlled immobilizer is installed in the vehicle that allows police to disable the engine and lock the doors. Jason Cecchettini invented the concept and technology in 1996.
We also want to mention literature and artictis works entering public domain in Europe in 2016 (sorry, for those in USA, where no new works will enter public domain this year... or any other year untill 2019...)
Nr. 1. Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler.
Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") is an autobiography by the National Socialist leader Adolf Hitler, in which he outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany.
Nr. 2. Bambi, a Life in the Woods, by Felix Salten.
The novel traces the life of Bambi, a male roe deer, from his birth through childhood, the loss of his mother, the finding of a mate, the lessons he learns from his father and experience about the dangers posed by human hunters in the forest. The novel has since been translated and published in over 20 languages around the world.
Nr. 3. Anne Frank’s diary.
Annelies Marie Frank was a German-born diarist and writer. She is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, which documents her life in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, is one of the world's most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.
Nr. 4. Works of Béla Viktor János Bartók.
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.
Nr. 5. Josef Capek works.
Josef Capek was a Czech artist who was best known as a painter, but who was also noted as a writer and a poet. He developed his own playful primitive style. He was named by his brother as the true inventor of the term robot. Due to his critical attitude towards national socialism, he was arrested after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. He wrote Poems from a Concentration Camp in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he died in 1945.