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Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters

From: Martin Dickopp
Subject: Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters
Date: Fri, 07 May 2004 19:38:38 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux)

"Bernd Jendrissek" <> writes:

> In article <> Martin Dickopp
> <> wrote:
>>Michael Elizabeth Chastain <> writes:
>>> The GPL has worked fine for copyrights.  I've often wondered if it
>>> would be useful to start a GPL-like patent pool instead of just
>>> knocking down other people's patents.
>>I don't see what good that would do.  If you want to ensure that your
>>idea stays free, just publish it instead of patenting it and then
>>contributing it to some kind of pool.  The former ensures that the idea
>>stays free (and is much cheaper and easier), just like the GPL ensures
>>that an implementation of the idea stays free.
> It's all well and nice being ideologically "pure" and shunning all
> patents, even for yourself, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do.  If
> you have your own (pooled) patent portfolio, you don't have to worry as
> much anymore about other people shutting you down when they don't like
> what you do, by threatening to sue *you* for patent infringement.

The problem with free software and patents isn't that I as the author of
a free software package couldn't obtain a patent license.  The problem
is that the software is only free if *everybody* can use, modify, and
redistribute it.  Therefore, the patents in the pool would have to be
licensed so that everybody can use the patented "technology" for no
charge, in which case the pool would no longer be a leverage against
other patent holders.  The same effect can be achieved easier by just
publishing the idea, at which point the publication is proof of "prior
art", so the idea can no loger be patented by others.

> Sorta the way IBM counter-sued SCO for patent infringement.

I don't know what contractual situation between IBM and SCO is, so I
cannot say whether I think that either IBM, or SCO, or both have a

> Just because you have the patent doesn't mean you *have* to prosecute
> all unlicensed uses.  IIRC patents aren't subject to the "defend it or
> lose it" model as trademarks are.

Correct.  A common tactic is to hope that nobody notices the patent when
it is published, wait a decade until the "technology" is widely used,
and then begin to sue.


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