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Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]
Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 16:59:44 +0200

On 13 May 2004 11:35:14 GMT
Alun <> wrote:

> Stefaan A Eeckels <> wrote in 
> I would say that this may be going a little too far. Whilst you never
> know if some apparently inocuous clause may be a problem, not all
> contracts have to be complex. It pays to learn some contract law at
> least. I think it would help you understand contracts.

IIRC, that was the type of argument I made, but he
seemed to think that the moment it was worthwhile,
one should consult an attorney, and that attempting
to avoid paying a lawyer was penny wise pound foolish
 - but he is a lawyer himself, so he might be promoting 
his profession.

> But I'm a patent agent, and not considered to be a lawyer,
> which is synonymous with attorney in the US.

Would that be the same status as a law clerk?

> > His summary was that whenever one did something that might
> > result in the other party suing, one should avail oneself
> > of the services of a competent lawyer (ie one with experience
> > in the field), one can never avoid being sued, and one can
> > never be sure one is going to prevail.
> Whilst technically true, I don't think it's worth most people losing any
> sleep over. It should be possible to at least avoid doing anything that
> a reasonable person would sue you for. The unreasonable ones are another
> matter.

Most reasonable people never sue. What I'm worried 
about is the companies with legal departments that
have to earn their keep, and go after the smallest
possible competitor (like Microsoft bothering with, and even Lindows - I do know they
have to protect their trademarks etc., but it surely
resembles swatting flies with a bazooka).

> > If this is correct, a software author should have every
> > program examined by a patent attorney, have a stash of
> > cash in order to be able to defend a lawsuit, and prepare
> > to spend time in court if ever one of her programs is seen
> > as a threat by one of the big boys, in which case it is
> > better to sell them the program before she's bankrupted.
> > 
> I wouldn't say every programme. If you are doing something that you
> think may be patented then it may be a good idea to get advice, but the
> vast majority of software doesn't rise to that level.  

But that's the crux of the matter - there are so many trivial
software patents that there is a significant chance anything
beyond "Hello World" infringes on a couple of them. 

Take care,

"What is stated clearly conceives easily."  -- Inspired sales droid

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