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Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model
Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 05:50 AM EDT

Rob Cameron and Lawrence Rosen would like to pick your brains. They wrote me to describe their new patent-based dual-licensing open source business, International Characters. They'd like to know what you think of the idea. They also tell me that International Characters is joining the Peer to Patent Project and is submitting its pending patent applications there for peer review. Here's the Peer to Patent press release about it. The opening paragraph explains:
International Characters, Ltd., a private, Canadian software licensing company specializing in the commercialization of high-performance character processing and XML technology using a patent-based, open-source business model, has agreed to become a participant in the Community Patent Review project. International Characters will be the first software licensing company to allow some of its published patent applications to be peer reviewed as part of the community peer review pilot program in partnership with the USPTO.

The Peer to Patent Project is one of the "Three Initiatives to Improve the Patent Mess" that I wrote about on Groklaw earlier this year.

Cameron is professor of computer science and former associate dean of applied sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Rosen is an attorney, former general counsel of Open Source Initiative, and Lecturer in Law at Stanford University. They are founders of the new company, International Characters, based in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

I know some of you are already breaking out in hives just thinking about software patents, but I asked them to explain how they believe their new business model "uses patents to support rather than hinder the creation of innovative free and open source software, while also licensing commercial and proprietary applications of the company's patent-pending technology." So, here is their explanation, and their request for comment.

***********************************

Rob Cameron, president of International Characters and professor of computer science at Simon Fraser University in Canada, has invented new technology that, among other things, dramatically improves performance in processing character streams, for example doing transcoding and other XML processing. We're convinced that many companies will want to practice this patent-pending technology in both software and hardware because of the very large performance improvement that can be achieved in many important areas of computing (among other advantages, including significant energy savings).

Dr. Cameron's new methods are examples of the kinds of invention that the patent system was intended to reward, and we have filed several patent applications on them. We are also submitting our patent applications to Community Patent Review because we believe this process will rigorously test the quality of our patent claims before patents are actually issued.

We founded our company, International Characters, to commercialize these inventions under a licensing model that supports open source and encourages more invention by others. Information on the philosophy guiding our model can be found at Professor Cameron's website, www.cs.sfu.ca/~cameron/tech-transfer.html.

Our philosophy is related to, but broader than, that of free and open source software. It seeks to achieve synergy between three systems of technology knowledge development:

1. The academic enterprise, primarily universities and research institutions, dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.

2. The patent system, intended to "promote the progress of science and useful arts" by securing for inventors a time-limited exclusive right to their discoveries.

3. The free and open source software ecosystem that embodies knowledge in the form of software source code and makes that source code available for anyone to use, study, modify and redistribute on free and open source terms.

We have created a new licensing and business model to help accomplish these broad objectives and to serve as an example for academic and other researchers seeking to commercialize their patentable work. We will publish our discoveries in academic papers and through participation in Community Patent Review, thereby applying the rigorous practices of peer-reviewed academic research to the dissemination of patentable software knowledge. We will distribute to the public, under open source licenses, software that embodies our patented inventions, and we will seek to encourage those who improve our software to do the same. We will encourage the creation and distribution by others of free and open source software that embodies our patents without fear that we will sue them for patent infringement. And at the same time, we will implement a licensing model that allows inventors and authors, and the universities and research institutions that sponsor them, to profit when their patented inventions and copyrighted works are used in commercial and proprietary products and activities.

The mechanism we use to implement our philosophical and business goals is a Covenant Not To Assert. Here's the text of the current draft of the Covenant:

INTERNATIONAL CHARACTERS

Covenant Not To Assert

International Characters, Inc., on its own behalf and on behalf of its successors in interest, irrevocably covenants that, subject solely to the Reciprocity Requirement below, it will not assert or enforce any rights in any claims in its Canadian, U.S., or foreign patents, including the right to assert contributory infringement, inducing infringement, or willful infringement, against anyone because of:

(1) the making, use, sale, offer for sale, importation, licensing or distribution of open source software; or

(2) the making or use of software or hardware for experimentation, research or teaching.

This covenant does not apply to the making, use, sale, offer for sale, importation, licensing or distribution of any software, hardware, or combination of software and hardware, other than as specified above.

The term "open source software" in this covenant shall mean software actually distributed to the public under software licenses that have been expressly approved by Open Source Initiative or the Free Software Foundation as of the date of this covenant, and that provide that every licensee is free to make copies of the software or derivative works thereof, to distribute them without payment of royalties or other consideration, and to access and use the complete source code of the software.

Reciprocity Requirement: Notwithstanding the commitment above, this International Characters covenant shall not apply and International Characters makes no assurance, covenant or commitment not to assert or enforce any or all of its patent rights against any individual, corporation or other entity that asserts, threatens or seeks at any time to enforce its own or another party's Canadian, U.S. or foreign patents or patent rights against any software distributed by International Characters.

This statement is not an assurance either (i) that any of International Characters issued patents cover any particular software or hardware or are enforceable, or (ii) that any particular software or hardware would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party.

No other rights except those expressly stated in this covenant shall be deemed granted, waived, or received by implication, or estoppel, or otherwise.

Dated: DRAFT September 10, 2006

Consider the effect of having patented technology that is subject to the International Characters Covenant embodied somewhere in open source software. Anyone who receives that software (licensed under any free or open source license) can do those things with it that its open source license allows, subject to the normal licensing terms and conditions. They can also make, use, sell, offer for sale, import, license and distribute that open source software subject to item 1 in the Covenant. But as made explicit in the paragraph beginning "This Covenant does not apply...," item 1 applies only to software, not to combinations of software with hardware, and this means that there are circumstances when the open source license alone doesn't suffice. This is one of the ways we give effect to the broader philosophical goals we described above.

The interesting verb in the list in item 1 is "use." In order to use open source software, a user must necessarily combine it with hardware. The way this is reconciled with the exclusion of combinations is to distinguish between the "use of open source software" and the "making, use, sale, [etc.], of a combination...." When the product is just open source software from a software distributor, and the combination with hardware is made by a user in order to use the software, the combination is allowed. But products that are a combination of hardware and software are excluded from the Covenant.

It is this feature of the patent law and our Covenant that allows us to collect royalties from OEMs who combine patented open source software with hardware and sell that combination.

As for capturing internal commercial modifications, consider the effect of the "actually distributed to the public" phrase in our definition of open source software. A company, just like an individual sitting in his bedroom somewhere, can be an end-user of open source software, and is authorized by our Covenant (item 1) to use it. But if that company makes any modifications, the resulting software must be "actually distributed to the public" in order to still be "open source software."

Of course, the Covenant also allows "experimentation, research and teaching." Companies and individuals are free to modify their open source software in private to develop new applications, but once they put that patented software into production, they must seek a patent license from us. This would be true even if the patented software were originally licensed under the BSD or Apache licenses; those licenses still control for the copyrights and other intellectual property rights they license, but our Covenant controls for International Characters' patents.

Meanwhile, the International Characters Covenant also excludes proprietary software and hardware embodiments of our patents. Those are obvious places to collect reasonable royalties based upon the value-add of our patented technology.

Our open source partners can implement International Characters' patents not only for the improvement in performance this new technology brings to their software, but also to obtain licensing revenue for the commercial uses of their products in the same ways and at the same time that we do. We welcome such business partnerships. This is another way the International Characters Covenant supports open source with patents.

Because ours is a patent Covenant and not a copyright-based software license, we strike a different kind of bargain with developers, distributors, and customers than is traditionally done with free and open source licenses. We make freely available all of our patent claims (even those you don't yet know about) for open source implementations, and not simply "necessary claims" for our software at the time we actually distribute it (contrast our Covenant with GPLv3 § 11 and Apache 2.0 § 3). We also let everyone embody our patent claims in any software distributed under any free and open source license, thus not limiting people to creating derivative works of some original software we created and distributed under an open source license we selected (contrast this with every copyleft license approved by FSF or OSI; to address the proliferation of those incompatible licenses, we created a Covenant that applies to all licenses). And we require that free and open source software be "actually distributed to the public," thereby extending copyleft (reciprocity) to include secret modifications that are not themselves free software; you will notice that this effect applies under our patent Covenant for any open source software that embodies our patents, even software distributed under the Apache or BSD licenses!

We are in the process of initial consultation with leaders in the open source community about our legal and business model. We would certainly like to have community feedback too. We are also preparing technical disclosures of our underlying patent-pending methods in the form of open source software and documentation. We intend to coordinate those with the processes of Community Patent Review.

This Covenant-based business model may not be entirely consistent with the models of some existing free and open source projects. We already mentioned the effect on the Apache and BSD licenses above, but there are also differences with the current GPL. For example, the current GPL does not require the disclosure of secret internal modifications of free software that are put to commercial use; the IC Covenant requires public disclosure of those secret modifications or a separate commercial license from IC. The language of § 11 of draft 2 of GPLv3 seems to make GPLv3 compatible with this aspect of the IC Covenant, but this may simply be an inadvertent consequence of the latest wording of their license. We have already started discussing this with Richard Stallman and others, but until that license settles into final form we can't be sure.

We don't believe these differences are incompatibilities. As you know, patents are in a different legal dimension from copyrights. You may infringe them inadvertently, and still you may be forced to pay royalties or cease use altogether. You may suddenly discover patents owned by third parties to a software licensing transaction, companies that ambiguously announce that they have (or will someday have) patent claims that can be implemented in software. On the other hand, International Characters offers to take all our patents out of the zone of risk altogether for free and open source software, and we simultaneously implement a business model that generates revenue from certain commercial uses of our patented technology. This revenue model will reward other open source companies that elect to implement our technology, as well as the scientist who made these inventions, our shareholders, and the university out of which we grew.

We welcome feedback on this new patent-based dual-licensing model. Please send your questions or suggestions about the business and legal model to Lawrence Rosen, lrosen@rosenlaw.com.

If you want to discuss our technology, please address your inquiries to Rob Cameron, robc@international-characters.com.

And of course, posting your comments here on Groklaw is the best way to share your ideas and suggestions about International Characters and its new patent-based dual-licensing open source business.


  


Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model | 96 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections
Authored by: nsomos on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 06:32 AM EDT
Please place any corrections here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here
Authored by: Wol on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 06:47 AM EDT
with lickable clinks

Cheers,
Wol

[ Reply to This | # ]

What scares me most
Authored by: ledow on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 06:54 AM EDT
I don't like this idea. First, we are still trying to determine whether or not
the current patent system is flawed (hint: it is in terms of software) and using
those same flaws to "fight back" against companies that *want* to use
Open Source software doesn't sound like a way to promote OS use or to point out
the problems in patenting software. SCO suing its own customers ring a bell?

Also, Open Source is about freedom of use. By definition, any contract/license
which says "you must pay if" is hindering the freedom of use of the
end-user (just because this happens to be a large corporate entity shouldn't
make any difference in terms of true OS licenses). Although there is certain
stated compatiblity with OS licenses, it only serves to confuse and trap people
within the patent's reach.

For those who are purists, this lack of freedom is a killer. For those who are
trying to promote OS software, this is also a no-go. For a start, you've just
discouraged and confused quite a lot of large companies that use OS as to
whether it's free or not. Large companies are/will be the driving force behind
OS adoption (let's take, erm... IBM for example?) and they will do anything they
can to steer clear of confusing licenses that may well turn on them.

If the license allows you to use software patents in GPL/BSD software, for
example, then you can no longer be assured that GPL/BSD is "clean"
software, without having to pay for it somewhere along the line. Although there
are no guarantees at the moment, there can't be until something is done about
software patents, this means that most OS projects avoid as many patented
methods as possible.

The text seems to suggest that you don't have to pay anything until you actually
put a "combined" system into operation - unfortunately this is the
entire point of the experimentation and research that you've just done, so if
you ever intend to produce a "combined" system, you will end up
paying. MythTV boxes, OS operating systems pre-installed on computers,
mini-computers loaded with specific software, all of these mean you end up
paying patent fees if you intend to, for example, sell them on eBay if you
include this software. It's not just large corporations that will suffer.

The most interesting question, of course, occurs when an OS project uses the
patent in software of it's own license, say GPL or BSD. Because it's got a
license to use the patent under whatever license it wants, all this does it make
the legalities even more confusing. Not only do we now have to know all about
the GPL and it's quirks but we have to investigate all these patents too. Much
better for us if the author avoids all patents altogether.

And what about other OS licenses that will include explicit patent protection?
If it were compatible with them, then their patents quickly become null and
void. Say GPL v3 includes an automatic license to use any patents in the
included code, then would you use the GPL v3 code which has been certified as
having a "free license" for the patents or would you license under
THIS license and have to pay? If it doesn't include this sort of clause, then
you will still have the same problems under GPLv2 or BSD with the only
difference being who owns the patents - do you really want an organisation
charging people who are using your OS project to use *their* patents?

Is that really any different to a large company that happens to own a software
patent? Except for where the money ends up, it is essentially the same. I'm
not sure I want any royalties for patents that say I'm "allowed" to
use them to end up in the hands of any organisation that will fight for the
enforcability of software patents (which it must if it's to protect its business
model).

This, then, turns into another organisation taking up more and more software
patents and causing more and more headaches for anyone who wants to use OS
software. Not so much submarine patents as coral reef patents - you'll see them
coming from a long way off but you won't be able to do anything but go around
them.

If you own a patent, most OS people don't care if you intend to charge for it's
use... they won't even bother to ask for the price for a worldwide license, they
will just code around it. It's a pain but it's easier than having to fight
through legalities like licenses and patents just because of a hobby project.
Corporations will only use GPL/BSD software that says it doesn't use these
patents (with permission or not) to steer clear of any trouble. Eolas patent?
We worked around it in OS software.

When you have large corporations potentially using your software are you going
to advertise that you a) code around all known software patents or b) have
deliberately incorporated lots of patented ideas because they are free for you
to use.

It's taking away an implied freedom in most OS licenses because they didn't see
software patents coming. Now we do, things like the GPLv3 are trying to fix
that problem. However, they do this by either taking FULL control of the patent
for the scope of their code or they avoid the patent altogether (by license
denial or by code exclusion). There isn't middle ground for good reason.

Software patents are abominable and will, eventually, be wiped out. Recent
court cases seem to be leaning in that direction (that software isn't
patentable). When that happens this license becomes null and void anyway, but
with a clear cut end. They'll always be problems with patents and patent
licenses until there's some sort of international consensus (like with
copyright). Until then, playing with them is playing with fire and there'll be
so many per-country exclusions as to make any patent license legal hell.

(e.g. if software patents are null and void in the UK, I can take these patents,
do what I want and distribute them worldwide under any license, OS or otherwise.
Then some poor sap downloads the GPL code and put it's on a machine that he
sells online elsewhere and wham, gets hit with patent fees without warning while
the UK people can still continue to not only sell and use but advertise and
distribute. It's another of those international-law problems, as if we don't
have enough).

On an unrelated note, I have trouble putting my support behind any document that
promotes new software techniques as "new technology" (it's not... it's
an interesting new use of an already existing technology) or that contains the
words "synergy" and "value-add". :-)

As a final test, please spot the odd-one-out from their three definitions:

1. The academic enterprise, primarily universities and research institutions,
dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.

2. The patent system, intended to "promote the progress of science and
useful arts" by securing for inventors a time-limited exclusive right to
their discoveries.

3. The free and open source software ecosystem that embodies knowledge in the
form of software source code and makes that source code available for anyone to
use, study, modify and redistribute on free and open source terms.

(hint: It's the one that contains the word "exclusive")

[ Reply to This | # ]

Awful Idea
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 07:42 AM EDT
In this model, if some piece of software - eg., Samba - uses the patented
method, that means that no-one can come along later and resell it on server
hardware without paying royalties.

Some people may find that acceptable, but it's not Free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IC covernent is not FOSS friendly
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 07:45 AM EDT

IC expect to earn revenue from sales of hardware with FOSS pre-installed. I do not want distributors to have to check for patents before using my software. I will code around any patents that I am aware of that are available under IC's proposed covernent.

IC can best help the open source community by not obtaining any patents, or by allowing use of their patents in FOSS software without royalties.

IC's proposed business model is a barrier to computers and embedded systems with FOSS software preinstalled.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • yes it is ... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 06:14 PM EDT
Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 08:30 AM EDT
Dr. Cameron's new methods are examples of the kinds of invention that the patent system was intended to reward, and we have filed several patent applications on them.

This assumes that some software should be protectable by patents. Article 52 of the european patent convention explicitly excludes software from patentability and the US supreme court has not yet ruled on this issue.

In my opinion software should not be patentable under any circumstances. Patents may cause little harm in sectors with the following properties:

  • Only a small number of entities are active in the sector
  • Patent application fees are inconsequential compared to other financial requirements in the sector
  • Patent constitutes a substantial part of a product that enbodies the patent
  • It should be obvious that software sector couldn't be a worse match.

    As I suspect the professor allready knows all software is basically math and math is excluded from patentablity over the entire globe. I would argue that software is essentially not invented but discovered. Inventions can be patented but discoveries can not and should not.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Link your sources
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 09:07 AM EDT
    Re: Dr. Cameron's new methods are examples of the kinds of invention that the patent system was intended to reward
    If this is true, why didn't they provide links to these good patents so we could check? I assume it's because they are are obvious and trivial, like every patent I've seen. And, yes, I have spend ten minutes with Google, but it proved too difficult to get past the astroturf - giafly.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model
    Authored by: cduffy on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 10:07 AM EDT
    I agree that excluding a hardware/software combined solution subverts the open
    source model. Part of the open source definition specifies that use of the
    covered software should not be restricted, and these patents subvert the intent
    of the copyright licenses which also apply to software which they're attached
    to. A patent so licensed can make a 3rd-party piece of independantly developed
    software which unknowingly infringes on the patent no longer freely usable in
    commercial environments, contrary to the wishes of the developer of said tool.

    Perhaps this (hardware/software combination not benefitting from a patent
    license written to allow software use only) indicates a loophole which needs to
    be resolved in GPLv3?

    I would find this license (and its associated business model) entirely
    acceptable (at least inasmuch as software patents are acceptable at all) if it
    did not encumber combined solutions in which the patent is only used by open
    source components.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 10:37 AM EDT
    I feel that a professor has already been payed for his or her inventions. It's
    their job to think about new things. They have "an unfair advantage".

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    No open source project could rely on this covenant
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 11:19 AM EDT
    As written, this is a horrible, horrible idea. Do they want open source software to become a patent minefield for consumer electronics manufacturers and businesses using tailored open-source software? The way this covenant is written, a manufacturer of a Linux-based hardware product (an electronic picture frame, say) would have to go over every included software package making sure none of them were relying on this covenant. What a PITA - far easier to just hand over your cash to Green Hills or QNX (hell, even Microsoft) and get on with making your product. Ditto for a business using an open-source application - one of the big benefits of open source is the knowledge that you're free to modify for your own use if something doesn't quite work the way you want, but this covenant wants to break that.

    The only way this will even come close to working the way IC want is if IC limit their covenant to implementations covered by the GPL (or another copyleft license), and don't try to hit anyone up for royalties if they're using one of these open source implementations in accordance with its copyright license.

    Copyleft applications can obviously include it as part of the application core. Open source applications with compatible licensing that want to use the feature as an optional add-on will also be fine, as they can still use the copyleft-licensed implementation (e.g. a BSD-licensed application with a plugin that uses a GPL-licensed implementation - only the plugin will need to be GPL, rather than the whole application).

    Manufacturers will also be on clear legal ground:
    1. Don't use an open source implementation, and get a patent license from IC if they actually want to use the patented technology.
    2. Use an open source implementation, and meet their redistribution obligations under the copyleft license.
    By assuming that merely holding these patents allows them to interfere with the effectiveness of the licensing choices of open source projects IC pretty much guarantee that they will be told to take their patents and go home.

    To make things even worse, however, all of that doesn't even begin to address the question of independent invention, which is the fundamental evil of the link between the patent system and software. Will IC give a covenant not to sue the author if a BSD-style licensed library independently develops the algorithms that are being patented, even though such a library would potentially destroy the market for IC's licensing?

    Yes? Then just release the algorithms under the GPL, and rely on copyright protections for IC's work - if someone copies the algorithms without following the licensing rules for the software, then IC has all the standing it needs in order to sue them.

    No? Then if IC are happy to sue someone for the crime of independently inventing the same thing IC did, how far away are they really from being a patent troll?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Complete contradiction in terms
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 11:28 AM EDT
    I quote:

    "...patent-based, open-source business model.."

    Uh, "open-source" and "patent-based" are complete
    contradictions.

    Trying to patent anything related to open-source is just plain wrong.

    I think I speak for the majority of us, when I say companies (and people) like
    this can "go to hell"

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    This model is more restrictive
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 11:54 AM EDT
    If I write Open Source software and use this proposed model to mix patents and
    copyright then I end up with a more restricted set of potential users than if
    there are no patents involved. We could spend days discussing what users are
    restricted under different Open Source licenses combined with this patent based
    restriction. I think that in every case some subset of potential users of Open
    Source code would have to pay patent royalties in order to use that code. This
    defeats the purpose of Open Source by restricting the rights of some potential
    users. I don't want to exclude any potential users who are willing to abide by
    the Open Source license. So my reaction when faced with such patents would be
    to avoid their use.

    ----------------
    Steve Stites


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:08 PM EDT
    My suspicion is their "XML technology" is actually not that useful.
    It'll just put another hook into the process, and another point of failure. Or
    add noise to conversations.
    "ramatically improves performance in processing character streams, for
    example doing transcoding and other XML processing." -- well, if you want
    performance improvements stay away from XML.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I don't understand
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:14 PM EDT
    You're either against software patents or for them.

    I'm against them.

    I had thought that Groklaw was against them, but maybe I misunderstood the
    position.

    It also seems to me that there may be loop holes in the covenant.

    For example: "This covenant does not apply to the making, use, sale, offer
    for sale, importation, licensing or distribution of any software, hardware, or
    combination of software and hardware, other than as specified above."

    Also what happens if you use patented techniques inside your organization by
    adding your stuff on top of GPL software that you're using internally (but not
    distributing to third parties). Is this covered by or outside of the covenant?

    So what if you had a combination of open source software and hardware, outside a
    teaching environment.? I think then you're not covered by the covenant as I
    understand it.

    Put all the above to one side.

    What these guys get is free background research on prior art. Which would
    presumably help them write their patent in such a way as to be harder to
    challenge, or makes it become perceived to be harder to challenge. Which then
    helps them collect license fees for things outside the covenant, get more
    investment cash, generate more patents etc.

    In short, I don't understand why helping them generate more solid software
    patents, even if they in return are saying they won't sue if you follow their
    rules, supposedly a good thing.



    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What is wrong with doing away with SW Patents and having only Copyright (with this covenent)?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:17 PM EDT
    The devil, is in the details.

    The sin of the software patent, is that it is a patent on an idea that can only be expressed by actually writing the software.

    Let us ask the authors of this new concept this:   Where is the discussion about the software patent as an instrument of benefit to society, that must come FIRST, before this convent proposal, is even discussed.  Where is the arguement that uses the socratic method to validate the software patent in the first place,  and where is it that such an arguement comes up with any sense to idea of software (or business method) patents at all?

    The machine is the key place to start. For example: if Intel, when they started out, wanted to have all their customers sign a contract of use of their chips where all software that uses their patented chip technology has to kick back money to Intel..., well, let us then ask, if Intel did this, then how many chips would they sell?  My bet is that not many would buy into this deal, and so as a result of the hardware manufacturer's encouragement of software development (all done without tax on developers = FREE), this results in more hardware and chips being sold, etc!  

    Along comes software... Let us discuss what software is.  What is software?  What is digital as well (as software is part of the realm of digital we need to know this as well)!

    With software you have software languages being developed that will allow applications to be developed for certain hardware environments.  Then, using the language, applications are developed.   Apps are not unlike stories.  They are copyrighted and protected by copyright.  But, protection of the idea of a story is just plain wrong as it them gives a monopoly on the idea of the story. 

    If the author of Harry Potter had a patent on the idea of stories that involved witchescraft, schools, etc, then this would be wrong.  There is copyright, and the story is protected as told.   Others, should be able to tell stories of witches and schools... no?

    Software is a story that is told, period.

    A monopoly, or software patent in it' own context, on the ideas of such stories (including Harry Potter, and Software that works to do something) is plain wrong, as it locks up an idea for a term of time where no other stories of the same genre can be told,  and some that could be told might be better than the original.  But for the term of the software patent, is it possible that no other stories can be told.  Why is this bad?  Well, for example software patents in the health care field that might protect baddly written code, or a baddly written way to address a problem, where with a software patent that broadly awards a monopoly on the idea of doing what the problem needs,  this patent or monopoly might, in the worst case, protect this baddly addressed idea and solution to the point where it will cause more cost to society than should happen (vs a society where such patents are not allowed, thus allowing different, and better code to be FREELY written that would then benefit society without having to wait 17 years to be able to write it)!

    Can you imagine if there were patents on game shows or reality TV?  We would be left watching one channel, with one rerun for 17 years.  Well, if it is art, it is art, and a properly running software is art, can be sold as art, and can be supported by it's author (to those who need support as the learning of how the art works is important for those that need to use it, and who better to hire than the original artist, or coder(s) for this support!

    As to how digital as an entity is confusing, and why many wonder why ideas that are in the digital realm can be patented (as is it real or not, really)..., then view this segment on CSPAN to get a full undertanding of what is digital and what is not.  Basicly, it seems that digital is a "random whisp of a fairy tale" that sits as a medium between two REAL analog environments (and is totally dependent on the machine, or the stage, or the printing press, to become what it is).  Software. it is just a story!

    Now, a key and distubing question...

    What is digital anyway?

    Please first view this CSPAN segment found in the next url,  and please respond to the logic of the learned question as to what the heck is digital in the first place?     Is digital a product of the tech labs and the science, or is the term digital an invention of some marketing types who need an easy to sell word?

    http://www.c-span.org/co ngress/digitalfuture.asp
    go to and watch this selection:  Monday, January 31
    Brian Cantwell Smith, dean of the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto Smith, the author of "On the Origin of Objects," combines degrees in computer science and philosophy and is an expert on the interdisciplinary convergence brought about by digitization. His talk is titled, "And Is All This Stuff Really Digital After All?"

    So - according to Brian Cantwll Smith, with what is digital, not being OBVIOUSLY digital, and certainly not what we have been SOLD regarding what digital is..., then, unless you are a quick worded lawyer who takes digital and makes what is not real, suddenly real, then how can you patent something that is not really real, in the first place?

    You can write a story about what is not real, then that becomes real... and your story can then be protected by copyright.. it should not be ever protectable by patent.

    Digital is just an easy to sell word, that is abstract when you get into the actual details of what is really happening.  A patent takes software into this same level... where what is happening in a body of software code (geek speak) can never be written about in enough detail by lawyers (lawyer speak) to make it real.  If patents were that real, then you would be able to run them on your computer!  But, you can't do that because they are not the code.  The code is the only way to tell a story... and that is already protected by copyright.

    The problem with this Covenent Idea is that it fails to include the logic of why something that is digital (not really real), why this can be, or should be patentable in the first place.    It would be interesting to hear from these same folks asking these questions as to why they think that suddenly that software patents are really good for society (when they first can't do justice to tell the story of what the code is actually saying).

    Lawyers might like this, but it just is not logical for tech to understand this... We are left asking how can a lawyer can make 1 plus 1 equal 3, as this is not real, but to lawyers,  it can be real? 

    Software patents are draped on software programs much like the way that in one story where an emporer is being told that the invisible cloths he is wearing are wonderful,  when the reality is that he just is not wearing any cloths!  My bet, is that the child that spoke up and said that there was nothing in the beauty of the invisible cloths, on the naked ruler, was a budding FOSS anti-softwarepatent, geek!

    The covenent should nulify the patent, where patents are still supported, and rely only on the code being protected, as copyrighted, period.

    Here is what a lawyer said recently about the software writer being an artist and how software writers can be protected using FOSS to keep their future income stream protected, and where they can support their art, and make money and be FREE.

    View this online video from Harvard Law School and Eben Molgen's Q&A at the end of the talk! 

    Speech (h ttp://jolt.law.harvard.edu/images/jolt-moglen.spx) for Harvard Journal of Law & Technology (http://jolt.law.harvard.edu/). February 23, 2004, 1h 25m, 8Mib Speex format. Text version  
    The VIDEO of the Harvard speech is interesting and can be found listed in past speakers area here:   http://jolt.law.harvard.edu/speake rs/
    video:  http://media.law.harvard.edu:8888/ramgen/jolt/spring_04/2004-02-23_ae_ 0630-0830.rm
    audio:  http://jolt.law.harvar d.edu/images/jolt-moglen.spx

    There is a transcript... (note: Eben Molgen was a software programmer BEFORE he became a LAWYER) - it is sad that in hearings recently on IP issues and patent reform in the US Senate, that the senators did not even invite such kinds of wise persons from the citizen base, in order to wisely testify before any IP related commitee on Patents or Copyright concerns...?   Instead, we always see JUST corporations brought to testify about IP, why is that?  Why have no non-corporate Open Source Interests been brought into the loop on this Patent Reform Bill at all (or on copyright matters before the Congress as well)?

    Quote from Transcript of interest:

    "Q: But what about the software writer?

    Moglen: Ah, the software. . .

    Q: That's the kind of stuff I think I was more getting at with my question. So you have somebody who creates something useful but it has a zero distribution cost, and it's useful in a way that's not, not useful like celebrity, though I'm not sure, I don't think that's useful in some ways, but it's useful in the different sense that it takes a long time to create well.

    Moglen: See, the programmers I worked with all my life thought of themselves as artisans, and it was very hard to unionize them. They thought that they were individual creators. Software writers at the moment have begun to lose that feeling, as the world proletarianizes them much more severely than it used to. They're beginning to notice that they're workers, and not only that, but if you pay attention to the Presidential campaign currently going on around us, they are becoming aware of the fact that they are workers whose jobs are movable in international trade.

    We are actually doing more to sustain the livelihood of programmers than the proprietary people are. Mr. Gates has only so many jobs, and he will move them to where the programming is cheapest. Just you watch. We, on the other hand, are enabling people to gain technical knowledge which they can customize and market in the world where they live. We are making people programmers, right? And we are giving them a base upon which to perform their service activity at every level in the economy, from small to large.

    There is programming work for fourteen-year-olds in the world now because they have the whole of GNU upon which to erect whatever it is that somebody in their neighbourhood wants to buy, and we are making enough value for the IBM corporation that it's worth putting billions of dollars behind.

    If I were an employee of the IBM corporation right this moment, I would consider my job more secure where it is because of free software than if free software disappeared from the face of the earth, and I don't think most of the people who work at IBM would disagree with me.

    Of all the people who participate in the economy of zero marginal cost, I think the programmers can see most clearly where their benefits lie, and if you just wait for a few more tens of thousands of programming jobs to go from here to Bangalore, they'll see it even more clearly."

    -------------------------------------
    So - even if Molgen didn't discuss this in this speech.  Let us extend the meaning of the above quote to say this:   That the software patent becomes something that changes this artistic right of expression "protection" that true FOSS licenses offer, or should offer, so that the future of the story tellers (software coders) is insured and protected for all time!

    The patent, however, is owned by who?   Is it exportable, to where?  Is to where the labor cost is less, and can it then be exported again, and is this a value to society (which society).   In the discussion of software then is the right for a software programmer to write software, no matter where this person lives, even a question that we should be asking.   Should all art, be protected and be local.  

    Truely, a software patent, in the world economic environment IS NOT local, as the holder of the software patent does have the monopoly right to exclude any future art, or innovation from happening (unless you pay the Feudal Lord, or Lady, and their Lawyers, FIRST!  = NOT FREE... these ideas that are not free and are ruled by such a software monopoly are NOT FREE and instead are likes of rule by the DARK SIDE in STAR WARS.    There is no individual freedom or power.  It only means limited permission based power at the point of the idea, at the will, or lack of will, depending on the nature of a decision by what other human being or company, that you are now, to dutifully bow down before?  IN A SOFTWARE PATENT WORLD, WHO IS YOUR LORD?    WITH SOFTWARE PATENTS, the coders, well they are just another SERF.

    Instead, we can look at a situation where  the human being, or entity, uses a Copyright on it's labor to protect it's work product!  We can now examine, where this copyright protection certainly does protect value, and reflects the value back on the work itself, not just a simple and obvious idea that seems to have caught the eye of some patent examiner as being novel.  Software copyrighted works allow future art to florish and exist as long as that nwe work does not copy the previous art (creative commons license dependant, of course), but by a new creative commons copyright license, or GPLvX, any new work, properly licensed, can be seen as innovative enough to not be infringing.  AND this is good.  This encourages society to move forward.

    Copyright is an identity... let it live alone, and let it rule the software world, as it was intended, the story is what it is.  

    The patent can never tell a story, only the story can tell a story.

    So - The solution is to ban all Software Patents and Business Method Patents as they are Feudalistic by design, and are contrary instruments for the advancement of mankind in a world of rapid pace technology changing landscapes.

    The error of the patent for software, is that they can protect some very bad code, for a very long time, where this error is exclusive as an idea, alone, and where it does not allow society the freedom to research and produce better code, code that is allowed to be written to compete with this "original" code, where the idea is not the central in the protected concept frame of mind as an idea, but where the effort of the author's work stands alone for what it is, and if you build it they will come!

    If you code a good program, and you can support it, then you will make money.   If someone does a better job then you can, then they should be allowed to try.    Software coding really should be an olympic sport.   As with sport, what is real... is truely real.   No gold medal unless you can cross the finish line first (and not be getting a unfair drug induced advantage in doing so).  Fair is Fair.... FOSS is fair.   Software patents can never be fair to the trueness of the software writer as an artist "fair".   Copyright can only do that.  Patents can not.

    Your turn.

    PS - First to file patents, are a bad thing as well for the little person or company that has not the resouces to compete vs those that have the teams of lawyers and the funds to play this game.  Let first to invent rule (and maybe add a first to invent and sell to allow for protection of those that wish to commercialize a patent (say a drug patent), but then leaves room for those that invent first to exist and keep inventing freely without having to deal with the patent office!  But, no software patents, and no business method patents, please.   Thank-you.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    misguided......
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:32 PM EDT

    Any attempt to legitemise them is misguided at best.

    It's software folks, it's an algorithm, it's maths, number crunching it does
    *not* deserve patent protection.

    You cannot wilfully infringe a patent if you know nothing about it.

    Stear clear.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • misguided...... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 04:13 PM EDT
    My brain pickings
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:39 PM EDT
    Patents are a restriction on development and usage of whatever is patented to
    the patenter. Open source is about sharing development and usage among all.
    Open source is about less restriction, not more. Patent based open source is an
    oxymoron.

    I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Have they asked OSRM...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:40 PM EDT
    ...for free advice also, or does the FOSS "establishment" take Groklaw
    readers for mugs?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why several patents?
    Authored by: nathan.sidwell on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:43 PM EDT
    I wonder why they've filed several patents to protect what they've described as
    one invention. The comment about the invention 'saving energy' sounds like
    utter spin.

    It strikes me as an attempt to build a portfolio or something, rather than
    actually protect a single invention.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The problem is.....
    Authored by: tiger99 on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:45 PM EDT
    ... that this may well be an honourable attempt to work with both the FOSS community and the patent system, but it distracts from what would be best for everyone, the total abolition of software patents, and in that sense is an admission of defeat.

    It would be best if people ignored this, and intensified their efforts towards having software patents abolished instead, because that is what really matters here. Patents as killing the US software industry (not that I really mind as I am in the UK!). It is far more urgent to tackle the real issues than to tinker around with licenses etc.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ODf Plugin question.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 12:56 PM EDT
    Will these patents have any impact on ODf Plugin for MS Word?
    Could it be a show stopper for the ODF?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Methinks they don't know what OSS is
    Authored by: sgtrock on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 03:11 PM EDT
    As for capturing internal commercial modifications, consider the effect of the "actually distributed to the public" phrase in our definition of open source software. A company, just like an individual sitting in his bedroom somewhere, can be an end-user of open source software, and is authorized by our Covenant (item 1) to use it. But if that company makes any modifications, the resulting software must be "actually distributed to the public" in order to still be "open source software."


    How does this jive with the ability to use OSS without having to redistribute changes if an individual or company has no obligation to redistribute under the terms of the OSS license itself?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Another Request to Pick Your Brains: International Characters' Business Model
    Authored by: zcat on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 04:07 PM EDT
    "misguided, at best"

    This covenant violates the spirit, if not the actual letter, of the GPL. It's
    quite legitimate for a company to use GPL code in an embeddded product, and it's
    quite legitimate for an end user to modify and _not_ further distribute if they
    so wish. These are not accidents or defects of the GPL, they're completely
    legitimate freedoms protected by it.

    The GPL asks that code be distributable freely or not at all. And IMHO this
    covenant is nowhere near free enough.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Get a clue, people!
    Authored by: Maciarc on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 07:51 PM EDT
    I've read the article. I've skimmed through the comments and read quite a few of them. To those of you who have commented on the moral and legal aspects of software patents, I agree. Software patents are bad for everyone, from the programmer to the user and every one in between. The rest of this comment doesn't apply to you.

    There are some of you that remain that have offered constructive criticism in an effort to make this covenant better. The rest of this comment doesn't apply to you.

    There are some of you that still remain who have delicate sensibilities or will take what I'm about to say as a personal assault. The rest of this comment does apply to you, but I urge you not to read it. It is not intended as flamebait or trolling. I am writing this to inspire everyone to make the situation better.

    To those of you who have commented on what a horrible idea this covenant is, haven't helped to make it better and haven't based your comments solely on the patentability of software, I only have this to say: What is wrong with you? This company has gone beyond writing a treaty of peace, they've asked for your help in writing it! They've already tried to anticipate your desires and made an attempt to protect against the things we've written about here in the past, for instance, the TiVo-ization of open source software.

    I can see that this still needs work. As I see it, IC has come to us for help in making this the first patent covenant that meets all of our needs and wants. If you disagree with them, that's fine, but don't tear down the bridge. Help make it what we all want it to be.

    ---
    IANAL and I don't play one on TV, this is just an "anti-SCO Philippic."

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Tivo by patent?
    Authored by: Crocodile_Dundee on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 08:05 PM EDT
    Not exactly, but the limitation requiring you to distribute if you modify could
    require the use of a certified compiler, or risk running out of people to
    distribute to.

    Is compiling the code a modification? What if you have a compiler that does
    something unusual (think unix login)? Can I prove I don't?

    OK, so to be safe I need to distribute a copy whenever I compile. Presumably
    the compiled code violates the patent until I redistribute. Can I just email a
    copy to my collegue at the next desk? If I'm making changes and I need to test
    each little change without being in technical violation of the patent I'll need
    to distribute an awfully large number of copies (mostly broken).

    Can I distribute to /dev/null?

    This is actually anti-tivo, but the effect could be similar. Could I prove that
    I never ran a version of the code before distributing it? It would be safer for
    a company who is doing modifications (even if they plan on releasing them) to
    get a patent license. Pay to innovate! And that seems silly.

    And I can't distribute it on a hard drive surrounded by a computer. I hope
    nobody determines that a CDROM or a Flash drive is hardware because that may
    fall afoul of one of those clauses.

    On the other hand, I could just get the changes made in a country that doesn't
    respect patents and claim that I'm the only recipient of the distribution. That
    is OK by FOSS licenses (AFAICT) and neatly avoids their restrictions. It also
    exports jobs from countries that allow software patents.

    The requirement for distribution seems to be an attempt to mandate the feeding
    back of changes to the community, however it doesn't say that you can't have an
    extremely limited distribution (say, to your cat) so it seems it would be
    innefective if a person doesn't really want to distribute their modifications.


    ---
    ---
    That's not a law suit. *THIS* is a law suit!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What about voluntary expiry of patents?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 13 2006 @ 01:23 AM EDT
    I'm of two minds about software patents. On the one hand, if an algorithm is
    sufficiently novel to merit its creators name getting attached to it, ie,
    Huffman encoding, RSA encryption, etc, how does it not merit a patent?

    OTOH, while 17 years is fine for inventions that leave siginficant quantities of
    steel shavings on a shoproom floor, it's absurdly long for software, where 17
    months is probably about right. In fact, I'd be happy to extend that limit to
    three years.

    So, can the covenant set a voluntary sunset on patents to a more reasonable time
    limit, such as three years? Is there a mechanism in patent law that can enforce
    such a sunset?

    bkd

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What are patents for anyway?
    Authored by: mtew on Wednesday, September 13 2006 @ 01:48 AM EDT

    First they are intended to advance the arts, specifically the technical arts, and make inovation available to the people.  Does the current system do this well?

    Frankly it does not do this well, at least when it comes to softwhatever.  Instead it fosters litigation and inhibits research.  Partly the problem is the current structures and rules of the USTPO.  There is some changes in the works there.  I do not think they will change things enough to solve the problem, but that is not the issue here.

    I have not read the article or followups closely.  As a result I can only give a general impression of what is being proposed.  My impression is that this is an attempt to do for patents what the GPL and similar licences did with software copyrights.  There is at least one fundimental flaw in this scheme.  It does not model the reality of software inovation properly.  The whole idea of software patents does not model the software inovation process properly.

    Patents assume that developing an inovation is difficult and costly.  In many fields this is true.  Testing physical and chemical processes is not at all easy.  In that kind of environment a forceful method for generating venture capital is needed.

    In the software field the cost structure is quite different.  It costs very little to develop and test a software inovation.  Manufacturing software in this day and age is also cheap.

    Copyright is a better match for software than patents.  Copyright is also less than perfect; software is about methods and concepts, not just the source code.  There is no current social institution that allows equitable compensation for the use of a pure idea.  Worse, methods and concepts are not tangables; they are abstractions.  You can not see someone use a method or concept because that use takes place inside a persons mind.  You can only infer use from the persons actions and writings.

    The GPL works because it can be made part of the work being 'conveyed'; a reference to it can be directly attached to the text it covers.  A patent licence can not be directly attached to the methods and concepts the patent covers.  The method or concept will enter the mind of the user and the patent license will become detached because it is not necessary to use the method or concept.  Since a license can not be directly attached to methods and concepts in software, at best any such license is only a policy of the patent holder.  Policies can be changed unless there is a contract that specifies otherwise.  There is no way that I know of to force a contract between all the users of a patented method or cancept and the patent holder and still comply with the GPL.  In fact (and IANAL) I suspect such a contract would not be binding.

    There is NOT a technical solution to this problem.  There may not even be a legal solution because you will have to solve the philosofical problem first.

    Good luck.

    ---
    MTEW

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Exactly what is on offer here.....
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 13 2006 @ 04:48 AM EDT

    "High Performance XML/Unicode/Character Processing Using Simultaneous
    Instruction Multiple Data Techniques"

    processing input from a pipe in a multi-[processor/core] environment.

    Threaded processing, of multiple files
    XML ('cos that's new), Unicode('cos that sounds technical)
    character (shh)

    Whoop!

    The world is saved.

    Oh wait, it must be more than that surely....

    Good news, it is, here are many examples of character processing using SIMD
    architectures

    <a
    href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIMD#Commercial_applications">Wi
    ki P</a>
    (first attempt at GL clicky link, so apologies if it went wrong)





    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The covenant will only work for the current patent owner
    Authored by: iraskygazer on Wednesday, September 13 2006 @ 09:18 PM EDT
    Everybody should take a look at the history of the JPEG patent to understand
    that a covenant not to sue is not a viable solution for protecting the open
    source community, at all.

    Note that the company that created and patented the JPEG standard released a
    covenant not to sue. The company, a legal entitiy, went out of business with an
    open patent. The successor in interest to the bankrupt company then took the
    patent and proceeded to sue for infringement of their newly acquired patent.
    They won their suits against a few companies. Patents are simply bad news for
    anything considered to be an open standard or related to FOSS.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    License addendum
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 15 2006 @ 01:18 AM EDT
    I suspect it'd help if this patent covenant stated that it only applied to
    software that explicitly stated with a license addendum that it depends on the
    covenant. The goal of that requirement would be to make it possible to tell at a
    glance if a particular software package being considered for use depends on this
    patent, and reject it if it's inappropriate for the planned use.

    Without this, any potential users of software that *might* possibly touch on
    this patent would need to do audit work to determine if the patent does apply,
    and if so whether this covenant does.

    Of course, even with that requirement, software released before the grant of
    this patent or its covenant, or software not in compliance with the patent
    grant's requirements, would still need checking - so if there WASN'T a reference
    to the patent work would still be requied. It'd at least make it easier to rule
    out software that DID say it depended on the patent from unsuitable uses,
    though.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • License addendum - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 15 2006 @ 08:16 AM EDT
    Patents are very dangerous
    Authored by: philc on Friday, September 15 2006 @ 05:08 PM EDT
    I write software for a living. Patents are pretty much the sole real danger for
    people like me that write programs. I and people I work for can invest to have a
    program written, sell it and make enough to stay in business and maybe grow.

    Along comes the a patent holder with an infringement claim. How many patents do
    you think are infringed in writing a significant piece of software? Don't know?
    Neither does anyone else. Want to find out? It will cost a lot to find out,
    maybe more than it cost to develop the product. What if you look and miss one?

    So what do you do every time someone comes along waving a patent infringement at
    you? Pay up? Fight back? Fold? Either spend a lot of money defending the claim,
    or lose a lot of money by settling or worse losing in court. Even if you win,
    you still end up paying for the "victory".

    The only way to fight back is to have a patent portfolio to use in counter suits
    and to sue others. Go do it to someone else! Hope you can win enough to make
    back what you lost. In any event, get ready to pay huge sums for lawyers
    settlements or worse. You may not have enough money to survive. A patent suit or
    settlement can bankrupt a small company.

    What is good and just in this scenario? And yet this is what really happens.

    What is the value proposition to society at large that warrants having patent
    "protection" for software? I don't see why society as a whole would
    want to support software patents. I can see why individuals and corporations
    like patents, but that should not be enough to support their existence.

    The EU got it right. NO SOFTWARE PATENTS.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The legacy IPR system is dead waiting in the morgue for the funeral arrangements.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 25 2006 @ 03:45 PM EDT
    What I read, you missed the point that current IPR (Copyright, Patent,
    International, ...) laws are quickly becoming corporate/government protectionist
    exploitation. The legacy IPR system is dead waiting in the morgue for the
    funeral arrangements. The legacy IPR "CanNot" be fixed, but can and
    should be replaced ASAP.

    "Open" Concepts/Communities Always Supports Capitalism

    Possibly a sort of OSS GPL or OpenContent license of all IPRs should be
    considered. Present IPRs are smoke and BS, because most have no real value
    beyond the paper and ink. I think, we could develop a GMT-DTG-eSignature IPR
    system that allows all people, governments, organizations, and corporations to
    register their IPR and put their registered IPR in a globally internet
    accessible IPR database. Then a simple rule would be required that all IPR ideas
    and contents are GPL a/o OpenContent for personal and non-profit use; However,
    when an IPR is intended for use to generate profit by anyone, then a
    consensus-contract must be agreed upon that courts would find legally equitable
    for all involved participants. Use of a GPL-IPR could not be restricted by the
    owner (as in automatic use consensus), and the owner would always be legally
    entitled to equitable compensation for the contribution IPR value.

    Personal use, public University use, Research use, public Learning institutions
    use, collaborative use, ... would always be free and legal. However, use to make
    profit, win friends, influence people, generate income, support payrolls,
    foundations, organizations, institutions ... without compensating or
    free-use-permission of the IPR holder would be criminal theft. Okay, maybe a
    special rule for the entertainment industry for a one to seven year (with 10
    years maximum renewal option) with limited "Open Content"
    use-restriction.

    I believe, we must support IPR change and innovation for a stable economy and
    government (without making DMCA, RIAA, ... kiddy-criminals) to have what we are
    looking for in our future. Open-content and Free-IPR is about freedom,
    creativity, and innovation. Open-content and Free-IPR cannot exploit the artist,
    inventor, author .... Public domain GPL IPR should apply permanently for the
    good of the public. Publicly funded R&D should remain Public Property just
    like roads, parks, and rivers.

    Innovation drives capitalism as an economic system that supports democracy.
    Greed over the past few decades has driven economics and government for the past
    few decades. One example is the persistence of old industrial age Intellectual
    Property Rights (IPR) concepts for real-physical manufacture of patented and
    copyrighted products. Governments, corporations, and global law/policy
    organizations continue the industrial age innovation protection and reward for a
    corporatist economy.

    Patent and copyright products are now more in a virtual-realm of reality; At
    least, until an expenditure of raw materials and capital investment occur. We
    can continue as in the past, but that locks-up the synergy required for present
    innovation in modern capitalist economics. The old IPR industrial-age way can
    continue, but the cost will eventually be the destruction of both capitalism and
    democracy with corporatist-political-economics equivalent to communism with more
    centralization of authority and capabilities occurring by dejure.

    The general IPR rule basis lies in The U.S. Constitution: Article I; Section 8,
    A U.S. patent holder enjoys not just ownership of an idea, but also the
    "exclusive right" to determine how that idea will be presented or
    marketed to the public.

    Should this legacy IPR law/rule of the past centuries change? Yes! There should
    be a Constitutional Amendment, because: (1) The U.S. Constitution: Article I;
    Section 8 leaves no doubt as to how IPR should be interpreted/applied. (2) The
    present IPR content of the U.S. Constitution (due to technology and global
    commerce dynamics) in the 21st Century and beyond; creates economic
    disincentives, for most governments, corporations, individuals, social
    institutions, and the public good.

    Present interpretation of The U.S. Constitution: Article I; Section 8 as applied
    promotes unnecessary litigation, cripples innovations' application, discourages
    developing new market sectors, and supports profitable anti-competitive tactics
    that harm global commerce and strong capitalist competition. The present
    condition is anti-Capitalism, Corporate Welfare, and ... puts patent-holder
    rights ahead of the public interest.

    Reputable centuries old legal provisions of U.S. patent law; requires judges
    weigh the public interest against the requested legal action. Original U.S.
    Constitutional IPR/patents assertions that patents are granted to promote the
    progress of Humanity, Science, Arts, ... The Public and Government, Business,
    and Industry."

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