[svlug] Broken camel's back; Pat. Pend.

Walter Reed wreed at hubinternet.com
Tue May 28 09:58:52 PDT 2002


On Mon, May 27, 2002 at 08:46:41PM -0700, J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Mon, 27 May 2002 18:25:29 -0700 
> Walter Reed <wreed at hubinternet.com> wrote:
> > In the OSS world, we just don't have the resources to engage in a
> > court battle to invalidate patents due to prior art or because
> > something is obvious to someone in the trade. Software patents are
> > deadly to OSS and can devistate small businesses.
> 
> Agreed.  However given that we do have software patents, it would seem
> to make sense to use them against the software IP industry in defence of
> those obvious "advancements" that OSS makes.

... But again if a nasty corp wanted to use OSS patented tech, they could fight
the OSS patent and again the OSS community wouldn't have the resources to
protect the patent. They could also claim that they have prior art, and attempt
to get a patent that covers (overrides?) the OSS patent.

The one thing OSS DOES have, is a voice. Frequently our elected leaders follow
the money and basically are pawns of big industry (DMCA, software patents :-),)
but sometimes they do listen. While defensive patents may be a good short term
tool, a "war on software patents" will be better for us in the future. 

The greatest danger I see is software patents is that it prevents
interoperability with proprietary software / protocols. Look at openssl and
gpgp for example. Until the RSA patents expired, we did not have a legal option
for free encryption that worked with established internet standards. 

MS's patents are more of a concern as we go forward with world domination....
How do we handle those? From what I understand, MS has not been agressivly
defending its patents yet. (someone please correct me if I'm wrong here...)
When they do, I'm concerned that they will cause major headaches for OSS
developers.





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