[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Patents again

From: Abdullah Ramazanoglu
Subject: Re: Patents again
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 20:29:08 +0300
User-agent: Pan/ (As She Crawled Across the Table)

begin  Paul Jarc dedi ki:
> Abdullah Ramazanoglu <> wrote:
>> begin  threeseas <> dedi ki:

I was following the thread from c.o.l.a, hence late reply. While this
thread has nothing to do with advocacy anymore, I would still like it to
be posted in both NGs just to keep the whole thread in one piece somewhere
(c.o.l.a), but now that it's fractured, so be it.

>> Just as an example, what if some fake developer with a phoney usenet
>> id shares his "ideas" and discusses about some concept, and casually
>> drops in snippets of code in a developer usenet group, which is
>> "unfortunately" already patented?
> Why do you bother supposing subterfuge would be involved?  Someone
> could just as well reinvent the patented technique independently, but
> after it was patented, and then the patent holder could enforce the
> patent some time later, preventing people from using the technique
> without paying for it.  Patented ideas should be avoided in free
> software regardless of how they are introduced.  Of course it is hard
> to know when an idea is patented, as you say.

A patented idea can be implemented in a project haphazardly, yes, but it
would be spotty and probably easy to deal with. But a deliberate, covert
plan would provide for a systematic, mass corruption substantially more
difficult to deal with. And there are other ways, too, for covert players
to exploit software patents. What I'm trying to point out is not FUD, it's
more like acknowledging a bug in a program. One can pretend not to see the
bugs, because mentioning them may trigger hackers to write an exploit, or
it may lead to a general distrust against the program at hand. But
exposing the bugs and charging at them bluntly is the OSS way. The
opposite, obscurity, is the CSS way. This difference is what brought to
OSS its stability and security advantge over CSS.

BTW, I wholly agree that software patents are absurd and should be
abolished at once, anyway. But this is just one leg of the issue. Until
software patents are abolished, we must cover ourselves with whatever
applicable means available. Just attacking the patent laws, with other
shields off, does not provide adequate protection for the current
situation of software patents.

>> As a side note, I must say that I'm shocked with the indifference of the
>> folks in gnu.misc.discuss group.
> I don't know what kind of response you expect, since you are only
> describing a potential problem.  There are already ongoing efforts to
> fight software patents in general - see <URL:>,
> for example.  If real cases of this potential problem do appear, I bet
> it would be handled similarly to the LZW/GIF case: free software will
> simply stop using the patented technique/format and switch to another
> one.  The transition is not instantaneous, of course.  It's up to each
> individual user to decide whether to avoid the patented technique, pay
> a license fee, or risk prosecution.  But free software will make a
> non-infringing alternative available fairly quickly, I believe.

There were several ideas at the c.o.l.a part of the thread targeting self
protection until software patents are abolished. I was expecting to see
that better measures already are being (or have been) taken regarding
current patent threats. Failing that, I was at least expecting to see a
motivation and activity so that the ideas mentioned would at least be
focused at, analysed, criticised, even ridiculed, or perhaps developed
into more sounding ideas. Failing that, I would expect it to trigger a
brainstorming, or at least some, even any, agitation over the issue.

There are considerable efforts in OSS circles to invalidate the whole
software patents, and I very much appreciate it. But there is *no*
guarantee that those efforts will pay off. Then why not adopt a
multi-dimensional strategy, one dimension targeting the root of the
matter, while another dimension trying to provide adequate protection
against the status quo pragmatically? This was my whole point.

Abdullah        | aramazan@ |
Ramazanoglu     | myrealbox |
________________| D.0.T cöm |__

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]