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Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?
Date: Sun, 08 Jul 2007 13:12:18 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1.50 (gnu/linux)

Kurt Häusler <> writes:

> On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 22:36:20 +1200, Jonathan Walker wrote:
>> If *you* own the copyrights, then *you* can choose what license you want
>> to release the software under.
>> If your company owns the copyrights, then your company can choose what
>> license it wants to release the software under.
>> Copyright ownership is the important thing - not patents.
> Well that's an issue in itself, I am now unsure who owns it.

The author, unless he has a contractual default transferring ownership
of his works in company time to the employer.

> I had up till now assumed that the copyright was assigned to the FSF
> but apparently that's not the case. I misunderstood what I was
> doing, as it isn't that straightforward, for a non lawyer. The
> basics are but all the nooks and crannies are where issues tend to
> pop up.

There are no nooks and crannies involved.  Transferring copyright
ownership is an explicit act.  The copyright ownership gives the right
to license copies to other persons, another act that is usually quite
explicit (can be somewhat implicit by, say, putting up a permission to

Any person who has received a copy from you under the mutual
understanding of getting it licensed under the GPL is free to further
create and distribute copies under the GPL, and only the GPL.

But the copyright holder retains the right to distribute copies of the
same software under other licenses, such as BSD.

>> Besides, mathematics is not patentable - and software is applied
>> mathematics.
> It is in some jurisdictions though isn't it? Otherwise what sorts of
> patents is the GPLv3 attempting to protect against?

The application of mathematics is part of many patented inventions.  I
don't think that the statements of Jonathan are helpful for you here.

> I am not really worried about the driver I wrote a while back as its
> for obsolete technology and unlikely to provoke much in the way of
> legal troubles but it would be nice to be armed with knowledge for
> future occasions.

You are not likely to get into trouble by being confused about how and
what you licensed to others.  The main trouble starts when you are
confused about what others licensed to you under what conditions.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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