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Interview About Patents with Dan Ravicher
Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 01:43 AM EST

Many of you submitted some questions to ask Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation. I took the best of the bunch and added one of my own and his answers are now available [without a subscription] on As you may know, Dan is a programmer as well as a patent attorney, so he understood your questions on both levels. PubPat's mission statement is:
The Public Patent Foundation protects civil liberties and free markets from wrongly issued patents and unsound patent policy by providing those persons and businesses otherwise economically, politically, and socially deprived of access to the system governing patents with representation, advocacy and education.

By the way, Dan is one of the instructors of the upcoming seminar on the GPL. I have been informed that there are special rates available and for attorneys CLE credits, as follows:
Financial Aid Policy:

Applicants with annual incomes of up to 15,000 are entitled to a 75% discount. People with incomes between $15,000 and $30,000 receive a 50% discount. Any member of the judiciary, academics or attorneys from non-profit organizations receive a 10% discount. Also, employees of companies that are FSF Corporate Patrons and all Associate Members receive a 20% discount. . . .

Also, Attorneys might want to know that we have just received approval from the New York CLE Board to offer NY Transitional CLE Credits for the seminars.

CLE Credits: Attorneys who successfully complete 'Detailed Study and Analysis of GPL and LGPL' on January 20, will be entitled to 7 New York Transitional CLE credits. Those who complete "GPL Compliance Case Studies and Legal Ethics in Free Software Licensing" on January 21, will be entitled to a total of 7.5 New York Transitional CLE credits, 3 in the area of Professional Practice and 4.5 toward the Ethics and Professionalism requirements.


Interview About Patents with Dan Ravicher | 85 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: Alan Bell on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 02:36 AM EST

do you want to go to the seminar? If so is there anything we can do to help make
that happen?


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Seminar - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 06:50 AM EST
    • Seminar - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 11 2004 @ 02:34 AM EST
  • Seminar - Authored by: PJ on Sunday, January 11 2004 @ 03:37 AM EST
Interview About Patents with Dan Ravicher
Authored by: JMonroy on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 02:41 AM EST
I'd be interested to know some of the patents that are
being challenged, that are in question, or that are just
being debated. Perhaps throw out a few for us to chew


[ Reply to This | # ]

Waaay OT: Dawning in Utah
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 04:05 AM EST
Authored by fudnutz

Dawning in Utah

[An excercise in taking literary

to Mother, M &/or M

Chapter One

With a sudden, teetering
lunge, he reached his hand over the table and flopped it down on the alarm
clock. He squinted and bulged his eyes and focused on the flaming numbers,
"4:31 AM." It was set for six. Did he dream the alarm?

He turned away,
flexed his neck and scratched his ribs. No need to get up now. But the
thoughts started. They eyes would not shut. The fatigue tortured him. He had
gone to bed at midnight, lay awake an hour, and now was up for good with his
brain racing. He struggled to relax. He felt his body throbbing against the
mattress and in his ears. Did he take his Dilantin last night? Will he survive
till morning? "Executive Succumbs in Sleep." What a lie that would be.
Executive dies awake. Is death restful? What would his legacy be? Why did
that Doctor joke not to mix the Dilantin with Viagra? Thank god he had canceled
his speech at the business school. He would be nodding off by noon today.

thoughts won again. He jumped up. Where's the phone? The PR people have to
release today that Linux freaks trashed the corporate sign. Damn the lawyers.
Damn the proof. They hate the company. Over a thousand dollars in damage.

But instead he hit the button for Claude. "Not this morning" and hung up.
With another wave of fatigue he sagged his arm and let the phone fall to the
bed. Why couldn't he just faint? No doubt he was his personal trainer's
favorite client paying him to sleep in most mornings.

He put on his robe and
shuffled past his study. He looked away. He did not want to see what arrived
on his monitor. The way things had been going lately it could not possibly be
good. Yesterday the company stock went down 5%, but before the afternoon move
it had been down 7.5%.

He passed the spot on the wall where the picture of him
and the Senator had been, the traitor. Last week he co-sponsored the
"Ironclad Software Act" whereby someone could register free software, wait
ninety days for claims of infringement, and then forever after be immune from
any lawsuits or claims. The Levonn people put him up to it. Levonn, IBM and
the bitch from New York. The bill even limits damages and makes the law
retroactive. They can't change the law. It's unamerican. After all the money
he gave to the Senator over the years,even in his first election, some of that
money risky, he is betrayed. Worst of all the unofficial name of the bill was
his, "MackWare." He was being called the "Father of Ironclad Software." What a
mockery. He now knew how Sydney Story must have felt. Alderman Story had a
well-founded moral urge to reform the pervasive prostitution in New Orleans. He
partially succeeded with a political compromise. All the whorehouses had to
move to one active quarter of the city whose boundaries were carved in statute.
Of course this area was immediately named "Storyville" assuring his eternal
legacy. Would they let him into heaven?

Ah, legacy. He was the exec who
could draw financing from stone. He had bluffed the gargantuan Megaduro
Corporation out of hundreds of millions just on some straggling code. And yet
now he was being celebrated as the Patron Saint of the demise of PIP,
Proprietary Intellectual Property. At the Red Fez Christmas Party they
displayed and consumed his effigious pinata with a digit entitled "DMCA"
dangling from his pants. This came by way of one of the lawyers in his
copyright firm. She was there celebrating too! Only socially of course. She
probably billed that time.

He reached the kitchen and approached the empty
coffee pot. It was not set to go off until he returned from his supposed
workout. He turned to the refrigerator and opened it using the handle next to
the Caldera Penguin magnet. He took the magnet and the juice by the trash
compactor. He opened it up and dropped the magnet in. It fell on the upper
torn half of Friday's Corporate Media Report, the one where the analyst, Ms.
Giglio, started to sound jaded. What ever happened to loyalty? The damn
lawyers are right. Once you bring a story to the press they are out of your
control. They might write up the other side if it makes a better story.

lawyers said don't worry about the Senate bill. It would never become law.
There was no way out of the suit as it was. They didn't say much more. Last
month's legal fees were still outstanding....

....He nodded awake and found his
head just above the kitchen table. It was 7:50 AM. He hit the chauffer's
button on the wall phone. "Give it another hour this morning." At the Seven
Eleven the Chauffer overheard the message. He was expecting it. He stretched
out in the back seat and set his alarm. He could sleep until 9:30.

There was
nothing really planned at work today. He was going to call the banks. The
lawyers had requisitioned all the staff to meet the discovery demands on time.
He didn't even know what he was going to have to talk about that day. More and
more that was being dictated to him by the dreaded CMR, the Corporate Media
Report. It normally came only once a week. Now with the lawsuit putting the
little company on the world map, it was a daily, and sometimes thick at that.
He got it as an email with links and he had a bound volume of printed pages of
web sites. The clipping service sent him the newspapers, even the foreign ones.
Of course bombshells were viewed immediately like when the Defendant's firm
leaked some code. It was heady stuff. He enjoyed seeing his or his companies
name bandied about by media. But it soon turned nasty. The Defendant won't
deal. The damn lawyers are demanding expenses, code, experts and "fall back
positions." The judge is in IBM's pocket. They don't understand. You have to
attack. Keep them on the defensive.

The first few months were fun. Sara
prepared the CMR. They were great. Then she started to bring it with that
dreaded page with the ugly "spleen green woodlands theme" always first. She was
a cheerful Linux enthusiast and said that was all one had to read. That and the
links. She always put a sticknote where company execs were referenced, even the
unfavorable ones. With color coding the red negatives soon swamped the blue.
Sara transferred to Germany. Ms. Collins just compiles it randomly and leaves
that blog out sometimes. The lawyers say the company should put out a lot of
positive news like upgrades with new features of our products. The Company

...brooding can be a disease. It swells and oozes into anxiety.
His computer had become a tool of brooding. He could no longer stay away. Yet
he dreaded what the day could bring. Would that "antiFUD" site hit him below
the belt today? He returned to his study. He sat down and hit the Chauffer
button on the phone. "Bring Ms. Collins, lunch, the CMR, the mail and any
messages at noon. It's the home office today."

The Chauffer expected this call
too. He called back as ordered, "Remember to shave. The golf clothes are on
the tree. ..Check back on the way in." Cryptic voice mail, that was their
corporate style.

The exec took a deep breath, gulped some cooling coffee and
straddled his mouse. He said out loud, "Time for battle." He grabbed a mike,
"Ms. Collins, note a call to Ms. Giglio." He then pierced the menu at
"Favorites" and slid down to the hated link, Groklaw. "What are these
webmonkeys up to today?

End Chapter One

Disclaimer: Any resemblance of
this work to persons, real, imagined, copyrighted, with patented DNA or
derivatives thereof is purely accidental and impish and has not been proven yet.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Musing on public/private dichotomy ...
Authored by: LegalEaglet on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 04:52 AM EST
Whenever the state creates private property rights there is usually a
quid-pro-quo. For example, mining royalties are the fee for severing minerals
from crown lands. Back in the middle ages, creativity was considered a gift from
heavens and thus church authorities decreed should be "shared".

Pre-digital rights still have that element of social contract (see Jessica
Litman's work), for example with copyright, the 'idea' was open but the fixed
'expression' was protected. You could extend this to databases such as
compilation/extraction (set of public facts but presentation could be unique)
but what is the software patent equivalent? Historically in the world of atoms
and industrial patents you would reveal the manufacturing/recreation process,
sorta like opening the class but protecting the instance.

However this seems to be reversed with software in that the desire for profit
maximisation leads to attempts in drafting the patent to be as generic as
possible in the hopes of including the few profitable future uses (ie an
unbounded domain). Now there is nothing inherently wrong with sheer greed in the
sense that capitalism harnesses these forces for societal bettlement (Adam Smith
etc) but one has to wonder where is the public benefit? What is the software
patent equivalent of the idea/expression dichotomy? Where is the dividing line
that variation is large enough that it is considered a separate advance (rather
tricky where much software features are combinations or concatenation of

Should memory structures be patented? Can suites of HCI designs be enclosed? How
does one control the misuse of patents (refusal for reasonable license). Who is
the judge of utility? How can you identify equivalents? Or more importantly, how
do you reward real innovation ...

I think goverments are seeing cracks in the system but nobody has any idea as to
a substitute.

Cyberlaw - Smacking electronic nuisances

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is a job for "Pinhead Pending"
Authored by: Wesley_Parish on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 06:01 AM EST
In talking about patenting business processes and other intangibles, has anyone come up with something better than Zippy's device that talks to Johnny Carson? Besides the person he meets, that is, who intends patenting a device that stimulates in mice a desire for creative financing?

After all, Zippy has tested his device on nuns, and it does insert human replicas into vats of nutritional yeast - all of the which features are likely to resound in spirit with the present-day U.S. Patent Office ....

finagement: The Vampire's veins and Pacific torturers stretching back through his own season. Well, cutting like a child on one of these states of view, I duck

[ Reply to This | # ]

Er,... minor grammar, syntax and spelling errors
Authored by: ram on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 06:57 AM EST
"Further, one may need to recognize that functions are not necessarily the same simply because their result is the same." [emphasis added]

I know lawyers tend to use "may" a lot, but "might" would be more appropriate here, IMHO.

"For instance, few humans who can do in a day (week, year) the complex calculations machines do today in mere nanoseconds." [emphasis added]

The word "who" isn't needed (rather, it's confusing as used), but "that" after "calculations" would be helpful.

"...particularly by larger corporations who can afford to "hold-up" a smaller companies "crown jewel patent." [emphasis added]

The word "companies" should be "company's".

That's all that struck me, but I realize those are all your interviewee's writings. Overall, it's a great interview PJ. Congratulations on drawing out Mr. Ravicher's thoughts.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interview About Patents with Dan Ravicher
Authored by: RSC on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 07:17 AM EST
I am starting to wonder if Governments and Business' have any idea what
"for the good of the public" really is.

I once love the idea of "Government of the people, by the people, for the
people". Now it has literally been mutated to "Government of the
people, by the rich, for the rich".

More and more it seems democracies around the world have discarded "the
people" so they can pander to big business to line their own pockets.

"Software Patents" is just one more "brick in the wall"
separating the rich from the "social good".

It is truely scarey to consider that this type of device was used during the
industrial revolution to keep monopolies going, to the detriment of everyone but
those who had the money, and their political bed fellows.

I mean just look at who it is that pushed the idea in the US, and those who are
pushing the "Software Patents" in the EU. Also look at what is
happening with the patents in the IT industry now, it is obvious that the
primary motivation of the software patents now is so organisations can squeeze
even more competition out.

And what are the governments doing about it? Nothing. Here we have "the
people" forming organisations like PubPat to actually do what the
Government should be doing.

And the government wonders why they have trouble getting people to vote. :-)

Well its good to see someone out there is on the side of the people. :)


An Australian who IS interested.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Stowell confirms: SCO to Turn over Evidence Monday
Authored by: surak on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 10:07 AM EST

At press time, the SCO Group expected that by Monday, January 12, it would turn over to IBM all the evidence it had of Linux' alleged infringement on SCO-owned Unix IP that IBM asked for in its motion to compel discovery last month, thereby meeting its court-imposed 30-day deadline, according to SCO spokesman Blake Stowell.

Taken from this Linuxworld story.

[ Reply to This | # ]

McBride's Lost Opportunity
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 10:09 AM EST
Just think -- If McBride and his lawyers had attended this seminar a year ago --
of all the money SCO would have saved.

Methinks their own tutorial on the GPL at the hands of Da Judge and IBM will
turn out vastly more expensive.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: snout in the trough; MTI and Raimondi
Authored by: belzecue on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 12:00 PM EST
I see by his latest Print-Your-Own-Money Form (aka Form 4) that THOMAS P RAIMONDI JR just aquired @ $1.12 and sold @ $17.75 over ten thousand SCO shares. Yoink. That's worth about half his annual base salary for 2003 as CEO of MTI

Here's what Mr Raimondi was up to back in June/July 2002 -- or, rather, what Canopy and MTI were up to. This, you will recall, is the time when a baby-faced Darl McBride took the reigns of the soon-to-be bucking bronco SCO.

Like Caldera, MTI know a lot about linux. Here's what they were saying back in 2000:

Adding Linux support to the Vivant storage platform is the latest product offering based on the relationship between MTI and Caldera Systems, a premier provider of the Linux operating system for business. MTI holds an equity interest in Caldera, and the two companies previously collaborated in bringing Linux support to MTI’s Gladiator series of enterprise RAID solutions. MTI's Vivant storage servers now support the major releases of Linux, including Caldera and Red Hat.

“Linux has rapidly emerged as a key strategic operating system for many of our customers, particularly among Internet-related businesses,” said Kevin J. Liebl, vice president of marketing at MTI. “The combination of MTI’s Vivant platform and Caldera’s OpenLinux sets the new standard for delivering Linux applications to customers demanding high availability, scalable high-performance data servers and solutions when addressing the need for both SAN and NAS connectivity.”

Linux sure was the next big thing™ back in the millenium tech boom. In January 2000, Raimondi was thrilled to be sharing the bed with Caldera:

Anaheim, CA January 11, 2000 - MTI Technology Corp. (Nasdaq:MTIC) Monday’s announcement from Caldera Systems Inc. that it has received an additional $30 million in private equity financing from six high tech and financing leaders, was greeted with excitement at MTI Technology Corp. “As a large equity investor in Caldera, it’s a pleasure to see this endorsement of MTI’s partnership with Caldera from these outstanding companies in the future of the Linux open operating system for business,” said MTI’s CEO and President, Tom Raimondi. “This only confirms what we believed to be as a smart, strategic move when we partnered with Caldera last year to leverage MTI’s services and support resources to meet the consulting, service and support needs of the growing Linux market.”

Joining MTI as equity investors are Sun Microsystems Inc., Citrix, Novell, SCO, Chicago Venture Partners and Egan-Managed Capital. Caldera plans to use the new funds to finance operations and to accelerate the growth and acceptance of Linux.

“This latest infusion of equity funds can only strengthen our relationship with Caldera,” Raimondi said. “Through the increasing viability of the Linux open system technology, this strategic partnership between eight industry leaders will position all concerned, but MTI, in particular, in our endeavors to develop the scalable, high-performance data servers and storage solutions to handle high-availability, mission-critical applications. And after the official S-1 filing, we at MTI are anticipating with unabashed excitement that Caldera is moving steadily toward announcement of its first public offering.”

Uh oh. Look out MTI customer Brookhaven National Laboratory and your "large farm of Intel-based systems running the Linux operating system." SCO will be invoicing you soon.

Here be more rabbit holes concerning MTI and linux

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: SCO partners bailing since Sept 2002
Authored by: belzecue on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 12:24 PM EST
In September 2002, Sean Wilson, SCO's svp of corporate development, was the poor sod assigned the task of stopping SCO partners from crazy-talking about selling their SCObiz due to shrinking profits. Problem no. 2: nobody in their right mind would by a SCObiz for exactly that reason. But enough from me. Take it away, Sean...

SCO has spoken extensively with partners from around the world and we have learned that there are many points of concern for our partners today. However, there are two issues that we have heard over and over again. They are: Concern about shrinking profit margins due to increased competition and a shifting business environment; and The difficulty in exiting or selling their business in a simple and financially sound way...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patents are a good idea
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 02:10 PM EST
IMHO they are good because they try to protect the sometimes massive amount of
effort and investment made in order to create something new. They are good in
the same way that other ideas such as Justice and Freedom are. Unfortunately
this does not prevent these ideals from being abused.

Patents provide a time based monopoly that prevent natural competition in order
to ensure that the "inventor(s)" investment is recompensed. I have
no problem with a person(s) effort being rewarded, but I do feel that it should
be relative to the effort expended rather than an arbitary time period.

To err is to be human, and the patent processes around the world seem to suffer
these err's on occasion. A fine example of this is the "Book of
Bounty" in the UK's PO history. As the world has become a smaller and
faster place these errors still occur as PO have not kept up with the pace of
change. It is understandable that the PO are willing to issue patents with only
cursary investigation, after all they offer no promise that what they grant will
be upheld in a court of law and the holder of the patent has no recourse against
the issuing PO. In fact this is the sort of business model I would like to own,
although I may find it hard to sleep at night (but there again maybe not).

I think that the problems encountered with patents could be negated by the

- Calculate the period of the monopoly on the effort and investment made.

- Make the PO refund unenforcable patent fees.

I would be interested in hearing any other suggestions that others may have on
this matter.



[ Reply to This | # ]

Interview About Patents with Dan Ravicher
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 04:26 PM EST
We won't get to see it, but IBM will describe it in a letter to the judge, so
we will still know the basics of what was turned over.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO approaches Google...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 04:55 PM EST
Details and links on slashdot...

Looks like google might get sued next. Assuming SCO can pull money out of nowhere...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Be Heard...
Authored by: jkondis on Saturday, January 10 2004 @ 05:47 PM EST
Groklaw's readers who are U.S. citizens may be interested in reading and signing the Petition Against Software Patents written by Gregory Casamento. It is available here. []

A bit OT, but in addition, if you are unhappy with the DMCA, you can read and sign the Abolish the Digital Millenium Copyright Act petition, by Bryan W. Taylor, which is available here. []

Just a thought...


[ Reply to This | # ]

Dan Lancaster had all this figured out 20 years ago
Authored by: skidrash on Sunday, January 11 2004 @ 11:06 AM EST
Don Lancaster's patent related writings.
It's almost NEVER been the initial idea that was the important thing. It's the hard work of commercializing it (or being in the right place at the right time to be the one who can best commercialize it). I don't know if Bill Gates ever reasoned it out exactly this way, but his company sure makes use of that phenomenon.

Back in the golden ages ideas were worth a dime a dozen. Now they're worth less than a dime a bale in 10 bale lots.

The current patent system has evolved to make it easy for some people to do the easy work (patent the idea - the patentor does not even have to be the inventor) and lay in wait for someone else to do all the hard work.

Legalized trap-door spider-ism, as it were.

From Don's writings
For most individuals and small scale startups, any involvement with the patent system is almost guaranteed to cause you a net loss of time, money, and sanity.

Note the one group he's not talking to or about, "companies that want to go to court instead of the design lab, the test lab and the customer".

[ Reply to This | # ]

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